I’ve read this yesterday. It’s quite a long piece on analyzing games, their meaning and what they do. And I feel like this closely echoes what I feel when I play a game.
Usually, there’s a point while playing a game when you understand it, when you just grok the underlying mechanics, what it’s doing, how it’s doing it. This is the point where I extrapolate towards the future and see the possibilities of where this game might take me. And if I don’t like any of those options, I quit it and do something else.
I usually quit a game when I can see it completely, or mostly, a sport. By that, I mean that it’s a contest or a race and there’s nothing in it beyond putting in a lot of effort to rank higher or just be better. That kind of thing doesn’t attract me. I go towards the interesting story, the interesting characters, a good feeling or exploration.
This is why I play Torchlight and Terraria several times over but didn’t return to DOTA2 after the first couple of games or why I’m considering ditching Ingress. And Terraria and Torchlight are not free and clear either. It’s only really fun when playing with friends. Which is also why I prefer to play board games with friends in the physical world and there are games which are boring or tedious if you play by yourself or simply not engaging enough on the computer but if you take them to the tabletop with some friends then they are awesome.
I’ll use Risk for this demonstration. I’ve played many Risk variations on a screen and many risk variations on a board. They are essentially the same game, some dressing aside. But I got addicted to the Risk boardgames, coming every week hoping there’s going to be an open spot or bugging my friends to clear their schedule so we could play while the electronic versions got a few sessions, maybe one playthrough and became boring.
I mean, I like games, I now work on one for a living (which is awesome!) but I’m much more of a storyteller than anything else and usually, when I “get” the game aspect of it, it needs more than that to keep me engaged. For examples, I grokked Terraria and I keep playing for company of friends and exploration of the worlds; I grokked Torchlight II and I keep playing for the company of friends and exploration of the item system; I grokked Burnout Paradise but I keep playing for the feeling of speed and to see what happens when I finish the career path; I grokked Mirror’s Edge but I keep playing for the parkour feeling and the story.