: A Question for J
Hey J, what about Eat Poo You Cat? Clearly a game. If it's stylized conflict, then between what and whom, over what?
1. On 2006-02-09, Vincent wrote:
Also, The Game is a fascinating case. I contend: non-stylized, honest-to-god conflict.
BL go "Damnit Vincent!"*
ethan go "I lose too."*
Curly go "By the time you read this..."*
dhs_rr go "...loses"
SLB go "I lost"
SLB go "I lost again"*
AJF go "Wipeout."
BL go "I really need to write about this game at some point"*
Eat Poo, You Cat: there's a struggle to understand. You're competing with the person before you. Notice how it's more fun when people are earnestly trying to interpret what the previous person has written/drawn? When that challenge goes away because the person thinks of something funny to say, it saps a lot of funny out of it.
The Game: it deliberately confronts the very definition of game I'm talking about, because by playing, you lose. The only way to play is to not know the rules. It's stylized conflict because there's nothing real at stake; it's completely self-referential. The punishment for playing is having to play more. The reward for playing well is to forget that you're playing.
Real conflict means, to me, that it's over something important: resources of some sort, where the goal is to force the opposition into submission in order to get those resources. Stylization means not just beating the shit out of each other. Abstraction.
That's why a civil war isn't a game but an election is.
Gregor's right. Thanks for the link, Chris - I saw it in time to save myself the rewriting of the rules :)
Although I get what you're saying, J, about competing with the person before you, it's odd in that each person isn't trying to go against the next or last, but trying to understand and go with them. Another 'is it a game' would be Blind-Mind Pictures, in which person A draws a picture while telling other people as much detail as possible about where/what A is drawing:
"In the middle of the paper side-to-side, but in the top half, draw a square that's about an inch on each side, with the edges parallel to the edges of the paper. Put an equilateral triangle touching the top of the square so that the bottom of the triangle is slightly longer than the top of the square. In the center of the square, draw a smallish circle. At the bottom of the square, make two parallel lines coming down. At the bottom of the lines, cross them with a zigzagy line."
Does your picture look like mine? If so, we both win!
"Eat Poop You Cat" (that's how I heard it titled) is a game that's an evolution of "telephone".
The first player takes a sheet of paper, and writes something (anything, really) across the top. He hands it to the second player.
The second player DRAWS A PICTURE that illustrates the line of text, and then folds the text back, so that the third player won't see it.
The third player writes a line of text that describes the illustration, and then folds the illustration down so that the fourth player can't see it.
And so on, until the paper is full.
The last player is always a text player. The reward of play is to unfold the paper so that everyone can marvel at the disfunctional communication.
It's at its best when everyone involved is actually TRYING to accurately portray their image/text as text/image, because if someone just mucks about, it will be evident when the sheet is revealed, and will spoil the fun for everyone. That being said, "What were you *thinking*?" is a common question to ask during the endgame.
Fortunately, you don't have to actually PLAY to get a lot of enjoyment out of the game:
There is challenge, but not really competition in this game. So, conflict and struggle, yes, but there's not a sense of winner/loser.
Most party games are more like this: you can't really lose "in the manner of the adverb",(a game where you take turns trying to guess an adverb that other people act out in actions you have them take: eg "drink a cup of milk this way", if the adverb was "slowly" they do so etc.). Though you can freeze up, or just not enjoy it.
But the point of the exercise is in having fun doing the things, not competing over resources or making someone else look bad etc. That last is quite dysfunctional and contrary to the goal of sociality for this type of game, I'd say!
So, it's more like playing frisbee with friends, than playing ultimate.
JCL go "funny, I was going to post about this once..."*
ecb go "balloon could be a good model for collaborative games.."*
JCL go "yep"*
Yeah. There's something about cooperative play, like Hackeysack, say, that my model doesn't completely encompass.
Do games have to be challenging? I don't think so. There are games of chance.
... I'm stickin' with my definition until someone comes up with one that covers more types of games than mine does, without encompassing other, non-game things.
Maybe "An abstract endeavor with an uncertain course of events?"
"Abstract", because looking for tubers is clearly not a game (though tuber-looking could be a method of game play).
"Endeavor", because it's something you do; games that play themselves aren't games. When you have computers square off in RoShamBo or chess, it's because you're trying to make them act like people.
"Uncertainty", because I can play chess with someone much better than me, and I'm certain that I'll lose, but I still don't really know what's going to happen in the course of the game.
"Course of events" because the outcome is not what's important; it's "how you play the game". If the end-result of winning a poker game is that I get to feed my family, it doesn't make Poker not a game.
By specifying any of those, you get different types of game.
For instance, the form of uncertainty can be conflict between people or it can be rolling 2d6. The course of events can be "a ball is hit over a net, and if you don't hit it back, your opponent gets 15 points." Or it can be, "If I roll a 7, I win."
GH go "About Hacky sack..."*
NinJ go "I haven't played in a while..."*
MSW go "conflict in HS"*
NinJ go "Hackeysack as a resolution mechanic"*
It's a struggle against imperfect information. You have various resources at your disposal - you know (or maybe you don't) the personality of the person ahead of you, and you have either the text or the drawing. Combining these, the conflict is with the imperfectness (imperfectability?) of the possible solution to the puzzle.
Which is why cracking wise ruins it - instead of struggling to find the solution, the player is simply substituting information. The obvious lack of conflict blows the doors off the experience.
NinJ go "Yeah, I think that's accurate."