A personal chronicle of dice, cardboard, and wooden bits

Sunk Cost Fallacy and Boardgames

Last Friday, I listened to a short piece on NPR called “How Sunk Cost Fallacy Applies To Love.” In Economics, a sunk cost is one that has already been paid and cannot be recovered.  I think this is where we get the saying “Throwing good money after bad” or “Don’t chase your losses.” In the NPR piece, a woman stayed in a bad relationship because she had already invested a good deal of her time.

It struck me immediately that this can have a similar effect on gamers. You get excited about a new game and you pay your money, but after you play it, you don’t really like it. However, you feel obligated to keep it or play it again because you feel like you haven’t gotten your value. You may find that you prefer a new edition of a game, but you won’t purchase the new edition because you spent money on the old one.
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10×10 Challenge 2015

I’ve decided to take the 10×10 challenge on Boardgamegeek this year. The challenge is a committed effort to not just¬†play more¬†games, but to focus on playing a few games more often, ten games played at least ten times each.

As a counterpoint to the Cult of the New, this challenge encourages people to play each game several times to explore and experience them in depth. There is no rush to find the optimum strategy on your first play, or read all of the cards beforehand. Instead, each play reveals something more and something different, you get to try various strategies, and everyone’s strategies evolve with their understanding and learning of the game. If you are tired of constantly learning new rules when running after the latest hotness, never really learning various strategies to any game, and needing to relearn the rules of old games because it’s been too long since they were played, this is the challenge for you.

– Sarah Reed
Boardgamegeek 2015 Challenge: Play 10 Games 10 Times Each

For the record, I am no longer part of the Cult of the New, or even the Cult of the GNU, which is actually fairly harmless as far as cults go, unless you make a living creating proprietary software, I suppose.

There are two versions of the 10×10 challenge, the normal and the hardcore. In the normal version, you choose ten games, but you can change your mind throughout the year, as long as by the end of the year, you’ve played ten games ten times each. In the hardcore version, you have to commit to ten games and stick with them. I don’t think I’m ready for that. I think it’s going to be hard enough as it is for me to get through the normal challenge. I think the hardcore challenge also requires that you game without pants; although, I am not 100% positive of that. Read More

Game Design Month 2014

November is National Game Design Month, according to the internet. I wonder if anyone keeps track of these things. Is there a National Fork Day or an International Week of Picking Up Stuff With Only Your Left Hand? Anyway, I’ve participated in NaGaDeMon (worst acronym ever) before, and it’s a great way to get motivated. The idea is to create a playable game in one month, going from concept to a final product that can be shared with others.

Earlier this year, when I was a guest on Boardgames To Go, I had an idea about creating a game that would fit inside a mint tin. I decided to make that part of NaGaDeMon this year, and rather than being a limitation, I think it helped focus my ideas.

My initial concept was to make a tile game where players moved bulldozers along pathways, trying to create parks and gardens from abandoned buildings and parking lots. I played around with this for a while, but found that it seemed to play itself. All of the decisions seemed too evident, and it was just a race to a single end.

Moving cubes on tiles? Brilliant!

Moving cubes on tiles? Brilliant!

I kept the tiles and the renovation concept, but moved the tiles apart to create streets and intersections. The tiles became buildings in an aging downtown and the bulldozers became project managers at a design firm. Players would allocate resources to tiles and eventually score points for participating in the renovation. Players would have to manage their resources (cubes) as they moved them from their hand to the tiles, so I decided to keep it simple and only allow a single action per turn. Players either move their project manager to a location or bring cubes to a location from a reserve tile. Cubes can be moved from a player’s hand to a reserve tile when they move their project manager. This kept the players moving around the city.

Mechanically, this worked pretty well. It was only missing one thing. It wasn’t fun. Read More