Thursday, November 7, 2013

Different Goals

It's an uncommon occurrence but every so often, my girlfriend will play Magic with me. It's nice when she does but she often finds the game to be more frustrating than fun. Here's an example of what can happen:

When the new Commander decks came out, I busted two open to play: Prossh and Nekusar and she took on Prossh. I thought it would be a reasonable fit, because Prossh leads a deck that wants to attack people to win and she understands that concept pretty well. But it had been a few months since she'd played Magic, maybe a few more since she had played Commander and I was handing her a brand new deck with a whole bunch of cards that were going to be unfamiliar to her.

As a result she spent a great deal of the game reading instead of playing, a position that could frustrate anyone, and didn't really have much fun.

It's always a bad thing when a game fails to be fun. This was my fault for giving her a new deck, instead of suggesting she play her own: even though some time had passed, at least there was the likelihood of memory kicking in and a familiarity coming to her so she could enjoy the game, instead of having the worst text-based adventure ever.

The biggest bummer about it all is that she doesn't enjoy too many games and the ones she does like, for example, Scrabble, I hate. (I hate Scrabble for a variety of reasons, including "I suck at this," so I understand her reluctance to play other games.)

What this story illustrates, though, is the different things that people are trying to get out of a game and how challenging it can be to get those things to align. I am looking to solve a problem and move to the next thing and Magic presents a near infinite amount of problems to solve, along with chances to collaborate on new ideas and be social. She wants to master a set of rules so that the chaos of a game becomes a directed, orderly experience. I'm not sure if she enjoys larger social interactions (say via party games) so there are probably a few priorities for her that I'm overlooking, too.  

This sounds a bit like our relationship writ large, actually...and it also addresses a little slice of that greater problem: Playing games with other people. That is a subject to expand on at a later time, though.

In the meanwhile, I'm hopeful that a middle ground can be found, so she can have fun and I get to include her in something I like to do. I'm wondering if a cooperative game might be more engaging, or perhaps one with less moving parts than Magic has, or perhaps just keeping it to smaller formats like Mini-Masters, might be more entertaining for her.

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