I know, I know.
I haven’t posted in a month and I start with a bad pun.
I’m still getting back in the swing of things.
In order to do that, I have a question for you.
One of my favourite games right now is a great deckbuilder adventure game called Clank! In! Space! (no more exclamation marks this post. I promise).
The basic premise of the game, for those few of you who don’t know, is that players are thieves invading Lord Eradikus’ luxury spaceship and trying to steal one of his treasures. You then must get off the ship before you are killed.
I will save the mechanisms for how you die for the review (which I promise is coming soon), but you just need to know the premise for this post.
If you make it back to the Cargo Hold with an artifact before dying, then you will earn all of the points you have during the game (for the artifact, money you’ve collected, some of the cards you’ve bought for your deck, etc).
If you manage to actually escape, you get 20 more points.
But if you die before reaching the Cargo Hold, you receive no points. You are a loser and everybody will know it (Editor: That’s kind of harsh).
One of the complaints I’ve seen about this game is the fact that it can take a little while to play (90-120 minutes) and there is a feeling of having wasted all of that time if you end up dying and don’t get any points.
I don’t really understand this feeling.
There are plenty of games where, at the end, you either win or you lose. Wargames especially, you could play them for four hours or more and then at the end, you’ve either won or you go home. There are no points. If you lost, did you just waste all four hours that you played the game?
Or did you have fun in the process of playing?
Most cooperative games don’t have any points, and there obviously is not one winner. You could spend an hour or 90 minutes playing Flash Point: Fire Rescue just to have the building collapse on you and lose.
Did you waste all of that time?
Of course not. It was fun playing, you were able to enjoy your fellow players and the interaction you had with them.
So what if at the end of the day you lost?
Is losing because you had fewer points than anybody else any better than losing and not having any points at all?
What is it about “points” that makes a game seem more “worth it” in this kind of scenario?
To me, the fun in the game is in the play of it, the camaraderie of your fellow players. It’s not in the win or lose aspect of the game (though of course I want to win and will do a victory dance with lots of pointing when I do win) (Editor: Thankfully, that very rarely happens).
What makes me wonder, and why I wrote this post, is that feeling about Clank in Space has sometimes come from people who feel the same way. They aren’t “win at all costs” people. They enjoy the play of the game and don’t mind losing.
So why is it different in this case?
Why does it matter that they have zero points while other people are counting up their points to see if they won or not?
It just boggles my mind.
What do you think? Is there something about points in a game that causes this? Or can you play a game for 2 hours knowing that you may not only lose, but may not have any points?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
First of all, nice to see you back at blogging!
I fully agree with you – a fun game is worth the time even if it ends in 0 points. On that matter, I find non-descript victory points not the most inspired or immersive choice anyway – would much rather have victory conditions like “Steal this artifact and make it back” or “Throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom”. If there are victory points, they’re ideally loaded with theme – e.g. solving three mysteries for the victory in Eldritch Horror is essentially getting three victory points, but it is much more fleshed out than “do any kind of action and based on the resources you can spare, you’ll receive a certain number of nondescript points”.
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Thank you! It’s nice to be back. Hopefully I won’t do a month-long (2 months, really, since I only did one post in July) hiatus anymore.
And thank you for agreeing with me too. 🙂 I just played Istanbul today and, oh wow, the winner is the player who gets 5 rubies. If you don’t get 5, it doesn’t matter that you got 4, or 1, or even fewer!
What a waste of 90 minutes. 🙂
I fully agree with you here. I play plenty of games that last for hours, and I don’t feel that I’ve wasted my time any more if I win, lose, or come last with no points at all. Once the winner has been established the game is done, that particular result can be forgotten and we can start on the next one.
If the fun isn’t in the playing then why spend time on the games?
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Thanks for the support! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way.
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As a mainly wargamer, I fully agree with you. Some rules are harsh, some battles you just win or lose. Sometimes there is nothing in between. Is it bad? No! The fact of trying, playing, creating the interesting narrative and sequence of events might be very much enjoyable even if losing. I am glad you raised this point. PS. You should see soon why I am getting back to your old Clank! posts 🙂
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LOL I was wondering about that until I saw your tweet this morning (and now your post). Glad you liked! And yes, wargamers know this inherently because there are (usually) no points involved in wargames (pure ones anyway, not games like Time of Crisis).
Glad you liked the post!
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