Not a lot of gaming this week, or much else for that matter. Sometimes stuff just get’s busy, you know?
- The esteemed Michael Barnes wrote a great article about “fun-first design” over at No High Scores. It touches on something that I’ve been wondering for a long time. Namely, what makes a game “fun” in the first place? I think Michael has some terrific points (as he often does), but I think the best insight is that he concedes that a lot of fun is derived from the group. Our tastes are shaped by the people around us to a certain extent. I probably would never much like Brass or Indonesia without the people I regularly game with. I better not say too much more, because there might be a good article there.
- As a sort of counter-point, Matt Drake has wrote an also-good article about the relative unimportance of game criticism. I would be lying if I said I’ve never actually considered myself much of a force for criticism, but the fact is he’s sort of right. Game writing does not make a lot of impact, and small-time rigs like mine are a side-show of a side-show. Having said that, I don’t think that’s really a problem. The internet has made it possible to carve out a niche that is incredibly specific, and I think that is to be celebrated. I do this because I like to, just as Matt does. I don’t get the same level of views that a bigger blog gets, but that’s fine. I just like having an outlet, and I think that any writing that raises the discourse of game discussion is a good thing, no matter how small-time it is.
- Last night I tried most of a game of Junta: Viva El Presidente. Having never played the original Junta, I didn’t want to leave with the feeling that I was somehow playing Junta Jr. Well, I suspect I am. However, I also think that’s a net gain. The only guy at my table who had played the original assured me that it was most of the awesome stuff in Junta with about a tenth of the play-time. For my own part, I enjoyed myself. However I wonder if it might not be just a little too running-in-circles, if that makes sense. It’s difficult to build an arc to a game when it feels like it’s always getting reset. But that’s a high-level concern for a game that is still pretty darn fun. Expect the full treatment of this one sometime.
- In the music realm, most people who talk to me about music know this, but I’ve been listening to a ton of R.E.M. lately, largely brought on by my access to their stuff on Spotify. I’ve always suspected that if I gave myself a chance I’d really love them, and that has ended up being true. Strange that I would get into them just as they broke up, but that does give a certain finite quality to their work that I like. I’m not even sure that makes sense, but there it is. I’m especially fond of their days before they were on a major label. Life’s Rich Pageant and Document are probably my favorite albums.
- Up, up, and away.