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Why Do We Like the Games We Like?

During a recent recording night the discussion came up surrounding the game of Coup. Coup is, dare I say, a classic hidden role or social deduction game. In fact, way back on May 31, 2014, Coup was the first game that the Meeple Nation podcast covered. The podcast has come a long way since then and so have hidden role games, but the core of this thought is what we get out of a game, and why do we like the games we like.

As discussed in our episode that night, Doug was introduced to Coup early on in his discovery of gaming as a hobby. He played with a group of gamers who all quickly eliminated him as a player, either through coups or assassins. Regardless, the end result was that both of his role cards were the first to be revealed and removed, leaving him there to watch and to reflect on what a sour experience it is to be so quickly eliminated from a game.

Many years ago I was introducing a group of co-workers to a game which I thought was a fun quick game of Bang! which could also now be considered a classic game. After explaining the game, the five of us embarked on our western adventure. The sheriff had the Volcanic in his opening hand along with three Bang cards. He shot and killed the outlaw to his left. He drew three new Bang cards, shot and killed the player on his right, the second outlaw. Amazingly drew three new Bang cards, and continued to shoot and kill the Renegade back on his left. Boom, boom, boom. Three kills. One turn. Game over. Both of these tales put a lasting and very distinct memory into the minds of those who experienced those games for the first time. Now Doug links invitations to play hidden role games to those memories formed from a bad experience while playing Coup. And I was never able to convince my co-workers to play Bang! again due to that less than fun experience they received from the wrong end of a Volcanic attack. David has similar experiences with player elimination games. There is nothing worse than being eliminated early in a game and then spending the rest of the game night playing on the XBox in the next room.

Now let’s turn the table to my favorite grumpy co-host Andy. Andy very much is against playing any sort of social game. I am sure this is also rooted in some prior bad experience. However, at our recent SaltCon, Andy was sort of strong-armed into playing a demo of Tortuga 1667 with myself and three members of HUGG, Sara, Linda, and Debbie. Tortuga 1667 is a social deduction, team based game where players are secretly assigned to 2-3 teams based on player count. During the game players are shifting control of gold on two pirate ships and on the island of Tortuga. This is not my favorite game, in the social deduction opportunities that are out there, but who you play with, and how positive that experience is, is what forms those memories. Those experiences build those prized experiences, and get us to like a game more and more. In fact, after the game was concluded, Andy and I were talking about the game, and he admitted he had fun at a social deduction game, and determined that joy he found was based on who he played the game with and banter that happened at the table.

Another positive experience is attending SaltCon Bryce, I got a chance to play a simple game called Medium, where players are given a word clue and try to simultaneously deduce a shared answer that is linked to the clue. We played this game early in the morning. People were tired and people had a bit of the bed time crazies, making comments and choices both far more humorous than then would normally be, but when that was combined with a simple game, positive lasting memories are formed.

Games have been highlights for a lot of us. Games have been an emotional support for me when dealing with the struggles life gifts to each of us. David, found a new gaming group when he moved to Washington leaving a gaming group he loved and family that he was close to behind. Nathan Tenney and games helped his transition to a new state. Logan found great joy in joining our game group at an early age. He would pass up opportunities to hangout with his high school friends to come play games with his uncle. Doug cemented his move by reaching out to come game with Andy after buying a game from him off of Facebook. James has found a fever for playing games that he can take back home to play with his wife. All of us have our reasons that bring us back to game night each week. So why do we like the games we do? I feel that is all rooted in the memories that we reinforce with each game we play. For good or ill, we get out of the games what we put into them.

What do you think? Why do you feel you like the games you do?

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