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March 31, 2007

Casual Board Games?

SWEAT collaborator Francisco Ortega has brought this article from the International Herald Tribune to our attention. Busy lives, short attention spans prompt speedier board games for Americans

From the article:
. . . analysts say game makers are more aggressively concentrating on fast games and even retooling classic games so they do not take so long.

The Game of Life: Twists & Turns Edition lets players determine ahead of time how long, or short, they want the game to last. Monopoly is getting an optional "speed die," rolled in addition to the regular two dice. Certain rolls will move the player to the next available property, moving the game along.

Hasbro's Express games incorporate concepts and pieces from the classic versions of the games, although game play is entirely different. In Monopoly Express, for example, players roll dice labeled with properties and the "Go to Jail" policeman of the classic game. Players get points for building blocks of properties — but lose their turn and their points if they roll three policemen.

We ran into different version of this dynamic through teaching. In a class on game design we were time-bound. Each paper-based game had to have the potential to be completed within fifteen minutes. Without this parameter it would be impossible to test and assess all of the games created. We were forced to fit within specific and explicit time-frames by external pressures.

The article points to other kinds of pressures, both internal and external, that equate efficiency with efficacy. Fun, enjoyment, engagement will have to be achieved within seconds. So long as we don't collectively forget how to shape complexity and derive pleasure from it, we should be okay. If, however, we lose that capacity in favor of this new - high speed - fun, then we may be in for trouble.

Posted by SWEAT at March 31, 2007 10:15 AM