Sunday, December 09, 2007

What makes a good game?

A few days ago, I played Junta (BGG, BUY ME!) for the first time. I've had this game on my radar for years, one of the older classics from the 80s (really 1978) that I had heard about but had never personally played.

I didn't love the game. I'm not sure it got a fair shake at the table. Pushing around chits and looking at old badly worded perforated cards didn't help my enjoyment factor- let's just say I'm spoiled by games with real components. I know that I want to give it another go at some point, because I'm pretty convinced there's a good game in there somewhere. But all that is beside the point.

A bit more research on BGG turned up a great quote from Filip Wiltgren:

Up until, say, 2 years ago [2004] I thought that Junta was an OK game.

But playing Junta at a gaming club was a real eye opener for me. I went from a tight gaming group where every game was good to an environment where I didn't know the players very well. And I discovered that a good game is a game that can be played with people you don't particularily know/care about and still be fun - it's when the game itself is fun, not the company playing it.

There is a ton a truth in that quote.

When you can pick up a game — hell, any activity — and enjoy it with your friends, that's super awesome and congrats. But a shared activity does not a good game make- I learned this lesson to my embarrasment about a year and a half ago, when I tried to play a game that came out of several episodes of 1000 Blank White Cards (BGG, WP) with a group of relative strangers who didn't get any of the references.

I like this reminder; It's a good wake-up call.

1 comment:

Pete the Brit said...

that's a very perceptive quote. I've had the same experience as you where I've been running a game with a group of people I don't know well and the game just flops :(