Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gaining an Appreciation by Doing

The next months will be filled with opportunities to watch big soccer  games on television (that's football, of course, to everyone outside the U.S.).  Tonight was the Tournament of Germany Championship, in a couple of weeks Bayern Munich will play for the European Club Championship, and next month, the national team will compete in the European Championships.

I've actually played quite a bit of Fußball the past two years, thanks to an informal neighborhood group of men who invited me to join them for a couple of hours every Sunday night.  I was even able to get a gym for us to play in during the winter months.  It has given me the chance to get better at a sport that probably would have been my favorite growing up, had I been given the opportunity.

And now that I've had the opportunity to play the game regularly, I can appreciate even more the skill and athleticism exhibited by the professionals I watch on television (although I still think they are sissies for flopping on the ground as much as they do). It's the same with just about any other sport or activity:  once you've attempted to do it yourself, it is much more interesting to watch it as a spectator.

I've found the same to be true with game design. Take my latest release, for example. Pala is a trick-taking game.  I generally don't play trick-taking games, although I admire the skill needed to play them well, not to mention the skill required to design something that seems fresh in an overcrowded genre.  In fact, I'd much rather player other types of card games, when given the choice. Yet, I once had an idea for a trick-taking game in which you could change the suit (color) of the trick, just as you can change a primary color into a secondary color by mixing paint (and this was before the idea was used in Fresco). So I set out to design a trick-taking game.

As I was designing it, I gained much more of an appreciation for trick-taking games, and I now enjoy seeking them out and playing them. I've had the opportunity to play Germany's favorite, Skat, as well as newer games like Filipino Fruit Market by Peer Sylvester and David & Goliath by Reinhard Staupe.

Now, as a design project, I've taken on another genre I don't usually prefer to play: negotiation games.  But, by designing a negotiation game, if I'm able to gain an appreciation I did not previously have, then I'm all the richer for it. And hopefully, someday, the broader gaming community will be, too.  

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