The Language of Games

Recently, I was looking over a few games that I’ve owned for a while and haven’t played. It occurred to me just how much easier it is for me to pick up a game, read the rules, and get it to the table than it was three years ago, when I first started getting into the hobby. I’m not sure how many different games I’ve played since then, but it’s obviously been enough to give me a better insight into how games are played and the vocabulary of games.

As a side note, I just sent an email off to a fellow gamer that runs an extended stat site for Boardgamegeek stats at BGG Extended Stats so I get a better look at my play stats.

As an educator, I know how important it is for a learner to have some type of previous experience or prior knowledge that they can associate with a new process or a new piece of information. For example, I was reading the rules to an auction game that features a modified once around bidding mechanic. Since I am familiar with how that type of bidding works, it was easy for me to visualize how that part of the game would work, even though it wasn’t exactly like anything I have ever played. It was similar enough that I could picture in my mind how that would work through the game.

This experience makes it much easier to anticipate whether or not I will like a game simply be reading through the rules. Now this isn’t always possible, but you can usually find the rules to even the newest games over at Boardgamegeek. I don’t usually buy new games right when they first come out, so this really isn’t a problem. There have been quite a few games I’ve looked at recently where I realized from reading the rules that the game was not for me. It’s not a fail-proof method for knowing if you are going to like a game, but I at least want to look over the rules to a game before I purchase it.

Of course, at the rate my German vocabulary is improving from looking through all of these German boardgames, boardgame language may not be the only language I’m learning because of this hobby.

3 Comments

  1. You’ve hit upon a very important aspect of this hobby– the learning curve. It’s amazing how the act of learning the rules to games actually makes you more adept at learning the rules to games.

    I think this is the root cause of several different phenomena: the constant search for “gateway” games (games that teach new gaming concepts quickly and painlessly), the burn-out on familiar games (Settlers is too basic now that we understand it), and of course, the cult of the new (being addicted to learning/exploring new rules).

    Neat post, and something to think about!

    • Thanks Greg! Speaking of something to think about, I think I’m going to take your comment and make it into a new post. I haven’t been interested in buying many new games lately, and I think the reasons behind that lack of interest relate to what you are talking about. Hmm…

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