Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why do we play?

This thread on The Miniatures Page (which subsequently devolved into the usual "Someone is WRONG on the internet!") has an interesting theory on how our reasons for playing games can be classified by four categories, as show in the diagram above, which came from that thread.  From the original post:
  • Immersion: The player enjoys being immersed in the game narrative, the pretending. They want to experience another time, cultural or challenge apart from real life.
  • Cooperation: The player enjoys the social aspects of playing games, the camaraderie. It may not matter what game is played as long as there is good company.
  • Achievement: This is about accomplishment, but not necessarily winning a competition. It can be mastering the game system, finishing that 2,000 figure army or setting up a beautiful table or painting an outstanding stand of miniatures.
  • Competition: This is about winning. Tournament play looms large in this quadrant, but simply playing the game to win is a large part of the enjoyment. This doesn't mean 'win at any cost' or 'rules lawyering', but simply playing the game as a competitive challenge.
I play different games for different reasons.  For example, with Hordes of the Things, its for both achievement (building a cool-looking army) and competition.  But there is also the cooperative aspect of getting together with friends for a  tournament or campaign, and campaigns also result in a bit of immersion.

My spaceship games, on the other hand, are more for immersion and cooperation, although the achievement of running games and campaigns (as well as assembling and painting fleets) is also a big draw--but I don't care about winning that much, as long as everyone has fun.

So what draws you into gaming?  Is it just one thing, or a combination?  And does it change with the game?


Collin Schrader said...

How interesting! It's occurred to me before there must be some sliding scale for this very thing, but I'd never tried to think it out fully or picture it.

I definitely base myself in immersion, leaning toward achievement and some cooperation. While I'm certainly good at tactics and strategy, competition has never been a pull in anything for me. My Magic decks are full of cards I think are cool or fun (synergies be damned), and while in my martial arts practice sparring is fun, tournaments make everything dull.

Andy Bartlett said...

'Competition' is the least important here, to me, even when playing wargames. But when I'm playing RPGs, 'achievement' covers the other two. I enjoy the achievement of putting together (and keeping together) a good, immersive campaign that my players engage with and contribute to ('co-operation'). I suppose that is looking at immersion and co-operation from a GM's point of view.

Colgar6 said...

Hmm, I think I'd have to place myself in "Immersion" and "Achievement". I'm not really the social, multi-player type, I suppose - though I do enjoy seeing the command confusion that can occur when there are multiple personalities involved in a game...

 Ashley said...

I thought for a TMP post that went rather well, all things considered.

Coach K said...

I like rolling lots of dice and learning about painting, terrain, and gaming ideas from others

Nobody667 said...

That's a great topic, and a pretty good breakdown, I should think.

Myself, I enjoy the immersion and cooperation side of the equation. It does depend on the game (somewhat) but what I am really looking for is a good time spent with friends (or strangers) and something that lets me use my imagination.