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Subject: Why I love abstract games rss

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Rodney Frederickson
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Appreciate this post and the perspectives folks are sharing here. As a designer of "abstracts" for 20+ years, I too have found that they can be conducive to cultivating contemplative & meditative spaces. Thus a major source of my inspirations haven't been from games per se, but from architecture. Particularly those of a minimalist design flavor.

What I've learned about my passion for abstracts over the years is that it is woven of different threads - designing, playing and solving:

1) Designing: the exhilaration of ideating around an idea and creating/wrestling through the self-imposed restraints of the material, rule-sets, etc. is like a drug - can't get enough of it My love for abstracts first and foremost arises from the journey of creating.

2) Playing: my competitive itch is scratched when engaged in a good game. Nothing like riding the waves of complexity and feeling the quiet rush of excitement when overcoming an unexpected challenge.

3) Solving: my awareness of this third thread, "Solving" (for lack of a better word), arose unexpectedly. I'll use the following analogy to help explain this: Duke Ellington was a great Pianist but that wasn't his goal. He excelled at the piano because it helped him compose his music. Similarly, I will engage and play my games & some others as more exploratory exercise to discover the strategic/tactical depth of the game play. Thus when playing friends with a game I designed, I'm "listening" to the flow per se. Winning becomes a means to another end - understanding!

Good stuff folks


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David Buckley
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milomilo122 wrote:


Nicely written article

Quote:

Does any of what I say accord with your own feelings? Do you have entirely different reasons for caring about these games?


Yes I have different reasons for caring. Basically I don't like abstract games specifically. I like tactico-strategic tabletop games of which abstracts are a subset. It's not so easy to put a finger on exactly why I like games so much. I'm just wired that way.
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Bob
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Excellent work! Could not have said it any better. My group enjoys background music during gaming, but I’ve found it more enjoyable without for abstract gaming. What are your preferences?
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Nick Bentley
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Ashitaka wrote:
Excellent work! Could not have said it any better. My group enjoys background music during gaming, but I’ve found it more enjoyable without for abstract gaming. What are your preferences?

I'm a silent man myself!
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Nick Bentley
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RAFrederickson wrote:

3) Solving: my awareness of this third thread, "Solving" (for lack of a better word), arose unexpectedly. I'll use the following analogy to help explain this: Duke Ellington was a great Pianist but that wasn't his goal. He excelled at the piano because it helped him compose his music. Similarly, I will engage and play my games & some others as more exploratory exercise to discover the strategic/tactical depth of the game play. Thus when playing friends with a game I designed, I'm "listening" to the flow per se. Winning becomes a means to another end - understanding!

Well said. I absolutely relate to this.
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Martin Grider
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milomilo122 wrote:
RAFrederickson wrote:

3) Solving: my awareness of this third thread, "Solving" (for lack of a better word), arose unexpectedly. I'll use the following analogy to help explain this: Duke Ellington was a great Pianist but that wasn't his goal. He excelled at the piano because it helped him compose his music. Similarly, I will engage and play my games & some others as more exploratory exercise to discover the strategic/tactical depth of the game play. Thus when playing friends with a game I designed, I'm "listening" to the flow per se. Winning becomes a means to another end - understanding!

Well said. I absolutely relate to this.


This really resonates with me too. In fact, I’d go further, and say that it’s basically impossible for me to enjoy a game for its own sake now. I basicallly have to be analyzing it and evaluating its design... and it’s that analysis that I find myself especially enjoyable or drawn to. This is part of why my regular game group dissolved many years ago... it was a constant struggle between playing new games every week (which I preferred), and playing the same games over and over again (which everyone else preferred). The more I appreciate a game’s design, the more I want to play it. Sometimes this means I’m appreciating the discovery of unexpected depths (emergent complexity), or other times it’s appreciating the “designed experience” (games with card abilities often captivate me until I feel like I’ve explored all the synergies or potential combinations).

I would also add that a lot of the qualities nick’s article extols are factors that contribute to a concept I sometimes refer to as “elegance of design” (usually just elegance, but the “of design” is implied). I think both abstract strategy and non-abstract strategy games can have elegant design, but it’s far more common in abstracts than in the others. (Of course there are many abstracts that I consider completely inelegant, either due to rules complexity, or other factors.)
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Laurentiu Cristofor
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The simple reason why I like abstract games is because they live and die by the quality of their ideas and not because of theme or components. Most other games can hide mediocre ideas under appealing themes, beautiful art, and tactile components. Some mediocre abstract games can search for success the same way. But a great abstract game will be appealing even if all you have are its rules.
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