Solitary Soundings

Musings of a solitary gamer. "The advantage of conversation is such that, for want of company, a man had better talk to a post than let his thoughts lie smoking and smothering." (Jeremy Collier) Comments welcome.

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Main Game: A Question for Strategy Gamers

p55carroll
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"This is no time to be making new enemies." --Voltaire
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What's your main game?

It's a question that I've decided ought to be on my mind. For the most part, I'm a strategy gamer. Strategy gaming usually means picking a game and playing it repeatedly, aiming to improve at it. Yet, though I've been playing games all my life, I can't say I've ever done that very well.
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Thu Mar 7, 2019 8:11 pm
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Reminiscing and Looking Ahead

p55carroll
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The other day, I leafed through my high-school yearbooks because of a 1973 event I'd read about. I wanted to see the face of one of the people involved. Then my sister sent me an email and said that person has a Facebook page with a photo from last year. So I took a peek, and my jaw dropped. OMG, have we really aged that much? I wondered.

Focusing on the past is nothing new to me; I've been doing that all my life. I was a history major for a year at UCLA. Even when I was a little kid, I liked looking at antiques and such. When I was only eight or nine, I wrote a short autobiography--mainly because I didn't want to lose track of anything I had experienced up to that point.
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Fri Mar 1, 2019 8:42 pm
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What Stands in the Way?

p55carroll
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During some slack time, I kicked around the internet a bit and glimpsed some how-to-stop-wasting-time-and-be-more-productive articles. Not that I feel I need that kind of advice; I'm productive enough overall. I was thinking of it in terms of my gaming hobby.

Is that a weird question to ask about a hobby? Maybe; I don't know. I'd like to do better at everything in life, and I don't see why my hobbies should be any exception.
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Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:51 pm
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Message in a Bottle: The Tensions of Solo Gaming

p55carroll
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I remember an old Twilight Zone episode--starring Burgess Meredith, IIRC--about a bookworm who resented intrusions by all the people around him. If he could just be alone with his books, he thought, life would be perfect. Then he got his wish: there was a nuclear war or something, and he appeared to be the sole survivor. So he dusted himself off and headed for the library, expecting to be happy for the rest of his life. Then tragedy struck. He stumbled and broke his glasses. Now he was alone in the world but couldn't read.
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Fri Feb 1, 2019 8:27 pm
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Keeping Up with the Lingo

p55carroll
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I'm an editor, and I work on a variety of books and publications. One of them is a youth newsletter which includes articles from people of all ages under eighteen. Today the last issue I worked on crossed my desk, and I noticed the reviewers had undone many of my edits. A note said they'd done it to preserve the voice of the writer and help young people relate to what's being said.

That's fine, of course. It was a concern of mine too. But I was also responsible for correcting grammar and spelling and making sure the message would be clear to the reader. (And that nothing inappropriate got into print.)

I mention all this just as a lead-in to saying I must be getting old and out of touch. Because some of the jargon in BGG/VGG is a little foreign to me too.
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:17 pm
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Games and Puzzles Revisited

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A blog-post comment caught my eye today and got me thinking. It's partly about the many games coming out nowadays which are actually puzzles. And it mentions a trend away from true games and toward complex puzzles.

Well, that touches upon something that has crossed my mind periodically for years. I've gone through most of my life saying I love games but hate puzzles. And of course I've always thought I knew what that meant. But anytime I compared games and puzzles closely, they'd start to overlap. If I continued to stare, they'd blend together until I couldn't tell them apart anymore.
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Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:56 pm
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My Five Hundredth Blog Post

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Looks like this is number 250 in this blog, and there are 250 posts in my other blog (Random Ruminations). Nice round numbers. Cause for celebration.

And yet, I'm reminded of the old story about the fellow who was passed up for promotion. He stormed into his boss's office and said, "I have twenty years' experience in this company!" His boss replied, "No, you've had one year's experience twenty times." These blogs have been all about me and how I feel about the games I play; and although I imagine I've got something new to share each time, it must seem dull and repetitious to anyone on the outside looking in.
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Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:01 pm
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Caught between Boredom and Frustration

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The title, I think, describes my lifelong gaming hobby. Of course there's a third element too--the joyful expectation that lures me in each time I play a game. That lasts awhile too. Sometimes it lasts halfway into the game or even survives to the very end.
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Mon Dec 24, 2018 4:10 pm
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The Joy of Learning How

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Patrick Carroll wrote:
I'm starting to realize I'm kind of a living paradox: I've loved games all my life, but I don't like playing games that much.

It's the same with another hobby, languages. I love delving in and starting to learn the grammar and vocabulary, but I have almost no interest in gaining fluency and joining another language community. I like using other languages just enough to prove to myself that I can. No more than that.

For years I just bought wargames, learned how to play them, and then set them aside. Just playing one, after having learned how, didn't appeal to me. It seemed almost like a waste of time. In any case, I'd be much happier learning another new game instead.

In the case of Magic Realm, I do have a lot more I could learn (not to mention all I'd have to relearn). So it's appealing in that sense. But my interest is dampened when I stop and think about what the game is: a multiplayer adventure that can, incidentally, be played solo. I don't especially want the adventure, and only RealmSpeak makes it a convenient solo game. If I play again, it'll probably be just to work my way through the rest of Jay Richardson's tutorial. Once I feel I know all about how to play, I'll never want to do it again.

I did finally download VASSAL several months ago, but I've delayed doing anything with it. Now I think I know why. I don't like playing games that much; I just like learning how to play them. (Teaching someone to play might interest me. I just seldom have the opportunity for that.)

My real passion, it seems, is for acquiring know-how in (relatively) closed systems. Show me a game, a code, a language, a personality-typing system, or anything that looks self-contained, and I'll plunge in with delight, wanting to know how to do the thing. But once I've got the know-how, don't ask me to put it to use or apply it to anything. I'll feel I'm done and ready to move on to something else.

I wrote the above in response to a thread reply in VGG. But it seems to belong in this long-running blog too.
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Fri Dec 7, 2018 4:00 pm
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Brain Strainer or Walk in the Park?

p55carroll
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I can never make up my mind which I want--a challenging game or one that's just pleasantly amusing. And I'm not content with, "Don't worry about it; keep both kinds around and play whatever you're in the mood for." Because if I could decide what I'm really in the mood for, there'd be no problem in the first place.
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Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:13 pm
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