Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When a Game becomes Hidebound

This is a big deal to me, specifically because it is one of the contentions I had that made me leave a group. I know games are supposed to be comfort zones, and I understand that. Although one has to challenge and continuously define what are the assumptions and parameters of the "comfort zone".

My brother was telling of his last game which ended up with him walking out. It echoed my own reasons of walking out as well, so it hit a nerve. In essence, they played with the SOP instead of looking at the problem and adapting to the situation. Instead of solving the puzzle, they buffed and took needless risks. Instead of using strategy, they tackled the problem head on (undead berzerkers instead of simply destroying the bridge that tied them).

What was annoying is them telling my brother he could not act because he was the lowest status. that was stupid; status means you have worse consequences if you don't follow the norm: it doesn't magically make you ignorant and unable to act on information. In that call, they breached the 4th wall and Meta-gamed preventing an action that had all merits of being Role-played, Strategic and Creative. It was annoying to me because, this was the same problem I loathed about certain gaming styles - they have become Hidebound and to me, thats associated intellectual masturbation.

Intellectual masturbation is a personal demon. I still do this sometimes, but I've, at least, grown up enough to catch myself more often and stop. Given how I struggle with it, when I see someone flaunting it I get more "judgy". I can't exactly name the cognitive bias of "Misery loves company" but it falls under that mindset, why I can be harsher about a fault I control about myself which I see in others who do not appear to exert the same effort and the fault being more visible.

I guess I'm ok now, having verbalized it and understood it. Its funny that I'm listening to Cryptonomicon and a character there is a Gamer who learned practical, complex, and high skills in gaming that eventually lead him to stop gaming and focus on more practical pursuits. It makes me reflect alot about my situation. I guess i will continue to make excuses about why I still cling strongly to games, and will never know the extent of the merit of those excuses. I can argue that I do so, so that I can replicate my skills in others; having a connection from how it began to the present allows me to better emphasize... the way remembering how I was when I was a kid allows me to understand how kids think (still clinging strongly to this, because I have a little boy now).

Still, I am too biased and have to accept that maybe its pure sentimentality and there are better uses of my time which i am avoiding to my future regret and detriment.
 
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