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Board and Video Games: Lessons to be Learned Part 1

March 23, 2012


Be they on cardboard or cartridges, Games are some of the most immersive forms of entertainment; good game design, however, isn’t a function of the medium but of the designers. There are some particular things that board games do very well that video games do not, and visa versa, and, again, this is not , empiricly, a function of the mediums. There are quite a few lessons that board games and video games could teach each other.

Popular, well polished board games have brought some interesting concepts to the table, mechanics like varied endgame, strategies, and asymetry, for a start. Furthermore, board games have popularized innumerable topics and themes well beyond the realm of video games, and match gameplay to theme seemlessly.

Video games often have a series of goals, an open world  with loose definitions of win condition, or multiple endings, but you seldomly see a video game that presents a truly varied endgame. A few racing games will play with the duality of 1st place verses last man standing, and fighting games will have ring out and time based win conditions. Mass Effect 3, the modern model of player choice, allows players to drastically affect the story, but the process towards achieving goals remains set within relativley narrow parameters. Video games tend to miss the game design potential of using a different endgame conditions to build a variety of strtegies for the player.

As an example, Puerto Rico has a simple endgame, collect the most points, but has a massive variety of strategies to possibly accomplish that. Transforming mass amounts of cheap product into points, selling early mid range product for doubloons for buildings that give more flexibility, or focusing on expensive goods for point granting buildings are but a few basic strategies. Most boardgames build this into the nature of the game, because they don’t have the illusion that movement and graphics create. Many video games boil down to a single strategy and rewards the best who accomplish it, whoever drives fastest, fights hardest, shoots straightest, etc. Though those mechanics have merit in their own right, there is much more potential that could be had. Splinter Cell is a game that implements some degree of variant strategy, though some incarnations do it better than others, where two very different strategies and gameplay mechanics allow the player to achieve win conditions (unfortunately sometimes the challenge disproportionatly pushes the player to a single strategy in a given situation)

Even many RTS games, fall a little short in terms of the variety of strategies that are viable. The goal is often simply to destroy the opponent completely, and the strategies available are often a rock paper scissors hierarchy of risk. There are a few games that really break the mold, however. Civilization, for example, offers many many ways to win, and the strategies to achieve those goals involve different gameplay descisions. Civiization takes many cues from board gaming relatives, and amplifies their potential with a processing engine, but that is no reason to think that the lesson board games have to offer are relegated to turn based iterations on digital patforms.

Read more with Part 2! Coming Soon.


Read more in Part 2 Coming Up!


From → Misc

One Comment
  1. ThydayTat permalink

    good day
    Your site is very helpful…
    Thank you…

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