Thursday, 15 May 2008

Cranium WOW You're Good

Finals are wrapping up and my brain is starting to recover from the lack of sleep and general stress (so it's time for another post).

There are lots of hobbies and ways to spend free time: from mainstream things like local sports leagues and knitting to more specialized pursuits like water skiing or carpentry. Even within gaming there are CCGs, video games, massive on-line games, RPGs, and board games (let's not get started on the differences between board game styles for the moment).

At a basic level gaming is something we do to have fun. It is a more interactive experience than a film buff's hobby, but less reality based than motorcycling (in that nothing really happens in a game other than sitting down and manipulating some bits).

All this is just a long winded way of saying that I participated in a game of Cranium recently. Party games might as well be CCGs to me: neither really draws me in. I definitely had fun. But that was fun from socializing with the other players, not fun from the game.

If you've been reading this blog regularly then you know that I enjoy the social aspect of games a lot. So why did such a social game "fall flat" for me?

I think it goes back to immersion. Games that draw me into another world more thoroughly than a film tend to be games that I enjoy. During the whole game of Cranium, I was sitting by a board goofing around with friends.

Some abstracts still draw me in. I could play Go almost any time. Go is a war in miniature for me. I can almost feel the cry of soldiers as provinces are snatched up. I feel the enemy exerting pressure on my forces. I am shocked when clever tactics by the enemy turns my planned victory into a crushing defeat.

Cranium doesn't draw me in. I'm still just sitting around next to a board. Maybe party games just aren't my thing?

Ca$h 'n Gun$ is a party game, though. I do enjoy the game with the cop variant. I also enjoy the basic game more than Cranium, but I suspect that that's because Ca$h 'n Gun$ is shorter (and the pain ends quicker). Ca$h 'n Gun$ is immersing no matter how you play it (unlike Cranium), but I don't feel like I have any meaningful decisions (something which is similar to Cranium).

Or the whole bashing of Cranium could be due to my extreme fatigue when playing. I can only say how I felt when playing the game after stress of finals and very little sleep. It could be that the game has "hidden depths" which my sleep deprived mind couldn't grasp.

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