Thursday, June 12, 2008

Board Games vs. Computer Versions of Board Games

The question posed is thus: Do Computer Versions Of Boardgames Ruin The Real Thing?
Two games in particular that I enjoy are Carcasonne and Settlers of Catan. Since I don't have many people to play with, I naturally try to find an on-line version of the games I like to play. However, now I'm wondering if this is a good idea. With Carcasonne, for example, I have played hundreds of games on ASO Brain recently, and I think my desire to play the game is a little bit less now. It would probably take me years of play on a physical board to get to this point. Does the quick-fix, play 8 games in two hours approach to gaming diminish our enthusiasm for the real game? Often times, when playing against an ultra-fast PC or computer player, you can play enough games to start to see patterns that you may not have seen in the real thing for years (50 plays, for example), or because the people are less predictable. Plus, IMO, most games are more interesting with live people, and therefore you might get sick of a game after playing it online, but really, you are not playing with interesting opponents. I think I might avoid games against the CPU for now on to prevent this from happening. And believe me, this will be nearly IMPOSSIBLE for me to do, but it might be necessary...

Anyone else share my feelings on this?
It's a renewed, older thread from January of this year (2008), but the topic piqued my interest. To date, I have avoided playing computer versions of board games and I mean avoided as in not having downloaded or looked into computer versions of board games despite learning of them. The question, as posed above, is why?

It's not like I'm computer-illiterate or haven't played computer games. I built my current desktop and I've been playing computer games since the days of 16-color VGA. If I know computers and regularly play computer games, wouldn't it make sense to merge two of my interests in a single medium, computer versions of board games?

Well, you can find the response I posted below:
Seeing as this popped up (again, so to speak), I'll chime in.

I don't play computer versions of board games because I want to separate board games from my computer gaming. I want board games to remain a social experience with physical pieces. I want them to be paced, with real-world timing and resolution. I am purposefully maintaining board games as an insulated entertainment entity, retaining a particular specialty as social experiences (even if it's only a 2-player game).

I've played a lot of computer games. I know how they have the tendency to increase personal isolation and decrease social activities or become faux social activities. Even playing with other people via the computer is isolating as it inherently detracts from necessary real world interactions. I'm an ex-WoW raiding junky. I know that road and I try very hard to avoid falling under its siren lure once again.

So for me, it's not about spoiling the game itself or surpassing other gamers in skill. It's about maintaining board games as a special, real world social activity.

I will note one game that I purposefully switched from real life to online: Magic the Gathering. Up until I discovered the online version (MtGO), I forsook the real-world game since I wouldn't get to play it often (no friends playing it), meaning card purchases would largely go unused and be wasted. In contrast, MtGO enabled me to find a game at any time of day or night. It made purchasing packs easier. Card management is easier (e.g., sorting cards, making decks, testing decks). MtGO makes the game accessible for me.

But I never viewed MtG as a social activity and MtG players were not a lot with whom I wished to socialize. On the other hand, the board gamers I've had the pleasure of getting to know are generally friendly, intelligent, well-spoken people who share a common interest and are not overly competitive. In other words, they're people I enjoy being friends with and board games are a unique avenue for me to make such friends and hang out with them.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.