Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grief-enabled gaming

I was going to title this twat-enabled gaming, but that seemed like the wrong thing to put in the title.

In my past games with @princessofworld@banky, @AndrewDPickard, and others we always played games that while competitive never really put one player out of the rest of the game. Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, as does Dune and a few others. One can lose the game and still feel it was a good time. I have yet to lose BSG or Dune and feel left out of the action.

However, there are those games that commit the ultimate player sin - wasting someone's time. The mechanics of these games enable that sin. Putting someone in a glass house and forcing them to watch the game play is sadistic.

I've played five bouts of the 4X game Eclipse. This last game I played, I made a tactical mistake on turn two and had my next door player crush my homeworld on turn three. I was assured by the rest of the table that I wasn't out of it, so I continued. I waited and tried to take back my homeworld on a subsequent turn. This caused the neighbor to crush me again with what I considered an ostentatious over-kill. I am not proud of myself, but I was more than a bit upset about him re-routing the weakest player on the board. Hash and loud words were exchanged.

I sat there fuming and doing essentially nothing for the next few hours. When the opponent finally started scorching my remaining worlds, I packed up and left, in a huff. There was another four of nine turns left in the game. The game enabled the asshole in me.

I'm not mad at my opponent for taking advantage of a weaker neighbor and my play mistakes. What I am still upset about is that I was left crippled without a chance to play. This is a dick move. A better player would have finished me off quickly. If it were me, I would have explained to my opponent what mistake I capitalized on that allowed me to so quickly take his position. There's no sense in letting someone hang around who can't affect the outcome.

Another instance was one of my last rounds with SmashUp. SmashUp has a lot of mess-with-your opponent mojo going for it. In general it's a pretty fun little game, but there is a faction whose power is basically to make everyone else at the table not play. On top of that they can give out negative victory points thereby making everyone else's game harder. This can be done while they themselves don't have to make winning moves. This entirely neuters the point of playing. Myself and other players sat for three or four turns not playing. I'm not sure what schedules other people have, but as a 40-something with a family, I can not play games in a much more productive manner at home.

Then there's the Lannister faction from Game of Thrones. I'm about ready to give my copy away due to the fact that I've played them all five times I've played the game and they wind up being crippled by turn three or four. Again, playing a weaker starting position isn't the worst thing, but this game's mechanics encourage glass-housing.

Games that enable this type of behavior even unintentionally are broken. I'm sure my Eclipse opponent is a decent enough fellow, but this type of game-enabled griefing left a bad taste in my mouth. I doubt I'll be invited back to play this game again and that's probably for the best. I'm going to give GoT one more try as not-Lannister to see how it goes.

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