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Ryan S
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Video games have been my main thing since I was 3 or 4, and it defines me to a degree.

In 2011 I really got into board gaming, which is when I joined BGG. I started buying up games at an alarming rate, way more than I could ever find the time to play. Eventually, and with my wife's help, I decided to stop buying board games until I started playing the ones I already had. In the last 4 years or so, I've only bought maybe 2 board games, both which I found for 80% off at a bargain store. I've still had a lot of trouble finding the time to play board games, unless they're digital. I've been playing Isle of Skye on my phone maybe 3 or 4 times a day for the last several weeks.

At this point in my life, video games are just convenient, more than any other entertainment. A movie requires a larger time investment, and board games require a lot of coordination, setup, play time, and tear down. Video games can be played at any given moment, even if I only have 15 minutes or so. I can always suspend the game if I need to go do something else and pick it up another day.
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Simon Lundström
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
I might value gaming in solitude more (or more often) than anybody, but for me it's never to waste time. I can't say that even in jest. I'm exercising my mind, learning strategy and tactics, developing discipline, or doing something useful and important every time I sit by myself and play a game for a couple hours or more.


I said it in jest; I'm fully aware that no time is wasted time. Relaxing and enjoying yourself is never a waste of time. But many people regard every single activity where you don't do something "useful" as wasting your time; hence the usage.
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p55carroll
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Zimeon wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I might value gaming in solitude more (or more often) than anybody, but for me it's never to waste time. I can't say that even in jest. I'm exercising my mind, learning strategy and tactics, developing discipline, or doing something useful and important every time I sit by myself and play a game for a couple hours or more.

I said it in jest; I'm fully aware that no time is wasted time. Relaxing and enjoying yourself is never a waste of time. But many people regard every single activity where you don't do something "useful" as wasting your time; hence the usage.

Yeah, that's a strange phenomenon. Sometimes it's hard to pin down what someone means by "useful" (or "wasted," for that matter).

Then too, there are people who seem to only count physical activity as activity. People observing me might say, "You just sit around and do nothing all day long." And I'm momentarily confused, because I think I've been very busy doing stuff all day long. But then I realize I haven't moved my physical body much; I've just been sitting in a chair. Still, I feel I did a lot.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
and let's face it, the most sophisticated human drama in games is often a complete joke compared to what you kind find in other media.


In my opinion videogames are a poor vehicle for narrative storytelling. This is because the storyteller has no control over the pacing of the story. Even in a game like Firewatch which is short and has little to no dexterity challenges there will be players who figure out what to do next quickly and accurately move to the next objective and there will be players for whom it takes longer for them to figure out where to go and or spend time exploring and or getting lost.

Much moreso for a game that requires mastering dexterity challenges and or intellectual challenges for the player to continue.

I do think videogames can be an excellent storytelling medium. I don't know what kind of storytelling is happening in Limbo or Ico, but those are stories I would argue could not properly be told outside the video game medium.
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frumpish wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
and let's face it, the most sophisticated human drama in games is often a complete joke compared to what you kind find in other media.


In my opinion videogames are a poor vehicle for narrative storytelling.


Interesting, because in my opinion, videogames might just be the most amazing vehicle for narrative storytelling. Maybe we have slight differences in definition of "narrative storytelling", so let me specify: What I find videogames do that nothing else can, is putting the reader/player in control – FORCING the reader/player to control. This breaks the fourth wall a bit, and makes the protagonist "you" in a bigger sense.

So to make a point out of that certain situations might be horrible, is done way better in video games. Horror? NOTHING can be so horrific as a video game. Movies don't even come close.

And, two points, from Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons. If you haven't played it, don't read. Not only because it's a spoiler, also because you won't get the point:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Two things: You actually have to goddamn bury your own brother. Any other game would have just made it a cut scene. But I had to walk to that frigging pile of dirt, push the f*cking button, walk back, and push the button again to pile dirt. That hurt so much more, SO MUCH MORE than any movie can ever hope to ever do to me.

And then you push That Button. And that was the most beautiful press of a button in the history of gaming.


Nothing in any book, comic, movie, could ever convey that much information. Only a videogame can do that.

I agree with you that it's rare, because it is. But certain games in modern time do have a Point, an idea, an underlying thought that "I would like to make a game about this specific situation, so the player can TASTE it." And those are the games I admire and look for.

But it's best done by a judo grip – i.e. normally the game must surprise the player by suddenly reaching out and slapping the player without any sort of warning. So even mentioning which games have suceeded with making an amazing point is kind of a spoiler
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I'm not sure there's any good objective measure as to what actually counts as storytelling. It's changed so much over the millennia. Writing changed things dramatically. So did the printing press. Likewise, film and recorded sound changed things dramatically as well. And that's setting aside the development of narrative within fine arts, stage performances, and a multitude of other things.

I think to say that video games are terrible at drama or storytelling assumes a narrow view of what storytelling is. That's a perfectly valid position to take. But at the same time it is only one possible position.

To say that player action makes communicating the authorial intent of a story harder is true in many cases. The same though can be true for a stage play, where the mood of an audience and/or performers can cause a storytelling misfires as well. But still many people find stage plays to be their favourite form of narrative experience, and have done for thousands of years, despite rigid alternatives such as the written word being an option for many of those same people.

As someone who falls quite strongly in the "death of the author" school of thinking about art, I think of many video game experiences as my story, aided by the creative contributions of the dev team that made it. That the media itself is somewhat altered by my actions doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference to me. By the time a sentence from a novel passes into by brain, it is being transformed into something unique there too. There a lot of well-regarded and skillfully written books that bored me to tears, because I am me, and I transform the story as I experience. I make some things better than the average experience of other people, and some things worse. With games, that can happen through external interactions outside of my head, but everything goes through a subjective experience filter as I see it.
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p55carroll
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I wonder of "storytelling" is a good word for what we're talking about (maybe story sharing, except that in solo games we don't share except the designer and characters in a sense). That aspect of gaming is more like drama--a stage play. But then, yeah, there's the "breaking the fourth wall" phenomenon.

As as a game player, each of us can choose, to some extent, how much to get involved and in what ways. Spend an hour lovingly creating a character, or just grab a predesigned character and go? Move rapidly from one puzzle or battle to the next, or meander about and take in all the dialogue and ambience? Stop and think about what the game designer intended, or just have your own individual experience?

And isn't it the same in real life? Pursue fame, fortune, or happiness; your choice--or combine them as you will. Be a passive observer, or actively plunge into the experiences that attract you. Stop and wonder what the author of Creation intended for us, or just do your own individual thing and see what happens.

Modern games, like all modern art-forms, reflect the worldviews of people today. They mimic how we live our lives, and they afford opportunities to vicariously live in other ways, experimenting with options other than those we take in day-to-day life. Sometimes they compensate for what seems missing from our everyday life. Other times they just enhance our life, entertaining us and adding more to what we do at work and at home or wherever we go.

I suppose art, being a mirror of life, can be as complex as life. Or as simple, depending on one's perspective.

Just some thoughts.
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ghostpants wrote:
Of all the kinds of gaming there are, is video gaming your favorite? If not, what would you rank above it? And in any case, what do you get from video gaming that you don't get from other kinds of games?

That's a lot of questions for a QotD.

First off, the various avenues of gaming all do remarkably different things. Even just the traditional tabletop RPG vs its storygame offshoot do totally different things for me. Board and card games similarly feed fairly different needs, even being primarily strategic enterprises. Video games mainly aren't for any of the above things. I'd say I mainly go to video games for action-based engagement and complicated strategic systems beyond tabletop games' comfort area.

One particularly notable aspect is that co-op and solo play in boar/card gaming space is very inadequate, and solo RPGing isn't even worth considering, whereas in video gaming, co-op and solo are major values.

I wouldn't say video gaming is my favorite, although it's the one that probably gets the most time. Video gaming has some severe drawbacks that endlessly hamper it, because we are so constrained by the game creators and the companies behind them. No video game is as good as it should be, and most are painfully wrong-headed in some way or other. In tabletop games, you can play your way, but video games are always someone else's game entirely, much to their detriment.

My favorite area of gaming is probably RPGing, but I don't really support ranking totally different things.
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Zimeon wrote:
What I find videogames do that nothing else can, is putting the reader/player in control – FORCING the reader/player to control. This breaks the fourth wall a bit, and makes the protagonist "you" in a bigger sense.

This depends a lot on the person. Video games don't make the protagonist me for exactly that reason. Forcing me to manipulate something the way I'm directed to pushes me out of the game. It is just that much more the authorial hand because I am being forced to take actions that are not my actions.

Similarly, video game horror is much less engaging or scary than other media. I am not that character. Every step I walk them through, every pre-defined "choice" I'm forced to pretend to make, constantly reminds me that the experience is false and contrived.

In fact, the only video game horror that was even moderately successful for me was so exactly because it succeeded at conveying and involving me in the character's feelings rather than some kind of making me feel like I was the character. My role as player was to protect and calm the protagonist so that the game could proceed, not to be the protagonist or make their journey myself.

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Nothing in any book, comic, movie, could ever convey that much information. Only a videogame can do that.

Sorry, but from my perspective, that sounds unbelievably tedious and contrived, not remotely moving. Books and movies would develop far more feeling for me, and no part of being forced to walk through someone else's action list "conveys information".

As I said, a lot depends on the person.
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p55carroll
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xethair wrote:
ghostpants wrote:
Of all the kinds of gaming there are, is video gaming your favorite? If not, what would you rank above it? And in any case, what do you get from video gaming that you don't get from other kinds of games?

That's a lot of questions for a QotD.

Hmm. To me, it's all just one question, broken into three parts.

Quote:
I wouldn't say video gaming is my favorite, although it's the one that probably gets the most time. Video gaming has some severe drawbacks that endlessly hamper it. ...

Guess I hadn't thought it through. Since I spend vastly more time on video gaming, I figured it must be my favorite; simple as that. But you're right; there are things I don't especially like about it.

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My favorite area of gaming is probably RPGing, but I don't really support ranking totally different things.

No argument, but I don't really support the hyperbole of calling two kinds of gaming "totally different." To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

You've got me thinking, though. Is there some kind of game I'd prefer over the video games I play if, say, my circumstances were different? I'm tempted to say board games because they're low-tech, and because classic games like chess and backgammon are free of the designer's stamp (i.e., the sense that this is somebody else's game). But it bothers me a lot that those games all need two (or sometimes more) players. I really want a solitary hobby, not one where I have to connect with somebody.

That prompts me to consider designed-for-solitaire board games. But I've rarely found one of those that I like much. There's Magic Realm. Yet, setup is so time-consuming in MR that I took to using a computer app. And besides, it has that designer-stamp problem; it's Richard Hamblen's game, not mine.

So, I end up shrugging and resigning myself to having to take the bad with the good. No game is perfect for me. The ones I spend the most time playing are probably the best, all things considered. So I'll continue calling those my favorites.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

One can can highly reductionist with that argument. e.g. "Well those two things are both made of baryonic matter, so how can they be totally different?"
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p55carroll
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paralipsis wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

One can can highly reductionist with that argument. e.g. "Well those two things are both made of baryonic matter, so how can they be totally different?"

Uh, yeah--let's avoid being reductionistic or hyperbolic. If we stick to in-between things, I won't have to look up words like "baryonic."
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
paralipsis wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

One can can highly reductionist with that argument. e.g. "Well those two things are both made of baryonic matter, so how can they be totally different?"

Uh, yeah--let's avoid being reductionistic or hyperbolic. If we stick to in-between things, I won't have to look up words like "baryonic."

My point is that that is not an in-between argument. I'd charitably characterise it as pedantic.
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Zimeon wrote:
two points, from Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons.


Not trying to take away from your larger response, but I chuckled at this part, because you're talking to two people (myself and Frump) who have quite a low opinion of that game.

laugh
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paralipsis wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
paralipsis wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

One can can highly reductionist with that argument. e.g. "Well those two things are both made of baryonic matter, so how can they be totally different?"

Uh, yeah--let's avoid being reductionistic or hyperbolic. If we stick to in-between things, I won't have to look up words like "baryonic."

My point is that that is not an in-between argument. I'd charitably characterise it as pedantic.

Well, I didn't mean to sound pedantic, and I apologize if I offended anybody with my off-the-cuff remark.

It's just that I worded the question very carefully, specifying "kinds of gaming" and asking only for "your favorite." And it astounds me that anyone could have trouble with that.

Suppose the question had been, Are apples your favorite fruit? And if not, what kind of fruit do you like better? That would make me reflect on the fruits I've eaten and consider which I've had the most of and liked, or which I keep coming back to. Since I have an apple with my lunch most every day, I might end up saying apples are my favorite. Or if I'm remembering a delicious strawberry shortcake, I might say strawberries are better. Whatever.

But someone out there would be sure to say, "You can't compare apples and oranges; they're two totally* different things." No they're not; they're both fruit! Of course you can compare them. You can certainly say which you like better (or say you like them both about equally).

Apple connoisseurs might wish the question had been about varieties of apples, because then they could say how they like Gala apples so much better than Braeburns or Fujis. But how many apple connoisseurs are likely to be around to answer the question? The more general question about fruit stands to elicit responses from many more people.

Same with a general question about "kinds of gaming."


*(Btw, the word "totally" has changed in the past decade or three. For the first half of my life, at least, most of the time it simply meant completely or absolutely. But then along came millions of people coining terms like "totally awesome" and "totally rad," and now it barely sounds hyperbolic even when it's used that way.)
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
I have to say, I'm already surprised by how many negative responses there are to the first question. Maybe I should have known better, but I assumed video gaming was the main hobby for most everybody in VGG. Clearly it's not (even if, for some, it becomes their main hobby at various times).

I'm beginning to believe ubiquity and convenience are the main appeals to video gaming, and that most people would be doing some other kind of gaming if they could freely choose all the circumstances of their life.

It looks like you already realised this but I want to say that I think that the bolded part was a very big assumption. Personally, I've always assumed that most of people here on VGG are people who came over from BGG because they liked talking about videogames too(*). That how I got here, anyway. If this was a site for videogames only, which had no links to the biggest, most popular boardgame forum on the internet then maybe you would have got different answers.

My younger brother's main hobby is videogames. He's not on VGG - in fact I'm not sure he even knows VGG exists. Next time I see him, I'll ask him where people whose main hobby is videogaming usually hang out on the internet. (In game, perhaps?)

For me, I've been videogaming pretty much my whole life but it's always been more of a back-up hobby. I do more videogaming during periods of my life when - for whatever reason - I can't do the hobby I want to do more. The biggest thing videogaming has going for it for me is accessibility. I use that word deliberately - previous primary hobbies I've had are either completely inaccessible to me now (eg. ballroom dancing), or still accessible but not easily accessible (eg. boardgames). So I'm playing more videogames these days. When I was doing the other hobbies more videogames took a back seat; I still played a lot of mobile games in any "in-between" bits of time I had but my PC gaming dropped off almost completely.

If I could freely chose the circumstances of my life I would definitely be doing more multiplayer boardgaming. Also dancing, traveling and probably indoor rockclimbing. That probably wouldn't leave much time for videogames although no doubt I'd still be using mobile games to fill "in-between" bits of time.


*(This may have already been a QOTD topic, but I'm curious if my assumption is right)
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xethair wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
What I find videogames do that nothing else can, is putting the reader/player in control – FORCING the reader/player to control. This breaks the fourth wall a bit, and makes the protagonist "you" in a bigger sense.

This depends a lot on the person. Video games don't make the protagonist me for exactly that reason. Forcing me to manipulate something the way I'm directed to pushes me out of the game. It is just that much more the authorial hand because I am being forced to take actions that are not my actions.


Interesting. I'm much more involved when I'm walking through a house in a video game, than when I watch another person do the same in a movie.

But maybe we're talking about slightly different video game experiences, because in what I speak of, I'm not forced to take actions that aren't mine. Instead, I walk in this house of horror, and I can choose where to go. And I feel the fear of That Room That I Don't Want To Enter.

xethair wrote:
Sorry, but from my perspective, that sounds unbelievably tedious and contrived, not remotely moving.


The previous scene might have been to some, but for me it was highly more effective than if I'd watched a movie or a cutscene, or read a book.

But what I was really referring to with "conveying information" was the amount of meaning in the pressing of one button. I cannot imagine the movie counterpart.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
two points, from Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons.


Not trying to take away from your larger response, but I chuckled at this part, because you're talking to two people (myself and Frump) who have quite a low opinion of that game.


I know – but that's what makes it an excellent example of what video games can convey. I cannot fathom – at all – how someone can have a low opinion of that game, as little as I can fathom how someone can have a low opinion about The Summer Book by Tove Jansson or My Neighbor Totoro. Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons is in many ways the very essence of what I like in games, and what I like beyond game, and even much of the essence of why I play games to begin with.

Toying with what you can convey in a game, how you convey these things, how you tell a story without speaking, is excellently done in Brothers, and few other media can do that with this specific and strange method they've employed.

So Brothers is very fine example – it's more interesting than something that everyone agrees on. You find the game uninteresting and flat, and I find it being a narrative masterpiece. This discrepancy in opinion most probably means that whatever the game has, it is something specific that can be found and analyzed.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
No argument, but I don't really support the hyperbole of calling two kinds of gaming "totally different." To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

Microscope and Doom are totally different. Just because both fall under the label of "game" doesn't mean they have more in common than being some form of structured activity.

I don't consider vastly different kinds of gaming sufficiently alike to call "totally different" hyperbolic. In fact, I'd say doing that was itself more hyperbolic than calling things with no distinguishing features in common "totally different", and nit-picking like that just stakes a claim on rendering the phrase "totally different" unusable.

That's just an odd hair to split, and makes it sound like your priority was defending your question from my saying I don't like ranking unrelated things.

Quote:
But someone out there would be sure to say, "You can't compare apples and oranges; they're two totally* different things." No they're not; they're both fruit! Of course you can compare them. You can certainly say which you like better (or say you like them both about equally).

Fruits have vastly more in common with each other and with the experience one gets from them than the various things that fall under the umbrella of gaming. Yet, to take your analogy, fruits are still quite different, and ranking ones one likes would be odd and probably fairly arbitrary (the ways I use tomatoes really aren't comparable to how I use oranges), but that just emphasizes how little is gained ranking things with even less in common.

I also don't particularly see the value in ranking favorite things amongst each other, because such rankings ultimately fall to pretty arbitrary and unimportant distinctions which do more to ignore the unique values I like things for than they offer in the fairly valueless act of placing one over another.

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Is there some kind of game I'd prefer over the video games I play if, say, my circumstances were different?

This is easy for me, because as great as great RPGing is, it's just unreasonably difficult to get. If I were ranking such wildly disparate activities that feed totally different desires (oops, can they be totally different if they are both desires? :O), I'd put it on top, but it's impossible to give it the majority of my time. Even if such a situation were realistic, I wouldn't have the social energy for that much RPGing. I don't think liking something slightly less than some other thing you can't do as much is terribly notable. We can't perfectly optimize our time.
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jesslc wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I have to say, I'm already surprised by how many negative responses there are to the first question. Maybe I should have known better, but I assumed video gaming was the main hobby for most everybody in VGG. Clearly it's not (even if, for some, it becomes their main hobby at various times).

It looks like you already realised this but I want to say that I think that the bolded part was a very big assumption. Personally, I've always assumed that most of people here on VGG are people who came over from BGG because they liked talking about videogames too(*). That how I got here, anyway. If this was a site for videogames only, which had no links to the biggest, most popular boardgame forum on the internet then maybe you would have got different answers.

Yeah, I should have thought it through that way; I could have. But I have a bad habit of reflecting on my own experiences and feelings about things and guessing most everybody I'm talking to is more or less the same.

And although I came here from BGG, I did so because I reached a point in my life where I realized I wasn't playing board games anymore. Almost all the gaming I did was on the computer. So what was I doing hanging out in BGG, reading and talking about games that aren't relevant to me anymore? Why not move to VGG, where more people are probably in about the same boat I am? For me, it was more a relocation than just an extension of BGG.

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My younger brother's main hobby is videogames. He's not on VGG - in fact I'm not sure he even knows VGG exists. Next time I see him, I'll ask him where people whose main hobby is videogaming usually hang out on the internet. (In game, perhaps?)

I once started looking for such a place, but I stopped when I realized I'd be the ugly duckling there. About 90 percent of video gaming doesn't appeal to me much at all. Basically, I only like video games that are a lot like board games.

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For me, I've been videogaming pretty much my whole life but it's always been more of a back-up hobby. I do more videogaming during periods of my life when - for whatever reason - I can't do the hobby I want to do more. The biggest thing videogaming has going for it for me is accessibility. I use that word deliberately - previous primary hobbies I've had are either completely inaccessible to me now (eg. ballroom dancing), or still accessible but not easily accessible (eg. boardgames). So I'm playing more videogames these days. When I was doing the other hobbies more videogames took a back seat; I still played a lot of mobile games in any "in-between" bits of time I had but my PC gaming dropped off almost completely.

If I could freely chose the circumstances of my life I would definitely be doing more multiplayer boardgaming. Also dancing, traveling and probably indoor rockclimbing. That probably wouldn't leave much time for videogames although no doubt I'd still be using mobile games to fill "in-between" bits of time.

That's interesting. Thanks for sharing it.

It reminds me that, for some reason, I've always been reluctant to call video gaming my hobby. Come to think of it, I wouldn't put it that way anywhere else but here. It's not because I'm embarrassed by the term, but because it's not accurate. It conveys the wrong impression. But "single-player strategy gaming" is too long and complicated.

But my QotD question isn't about what you call your hobby; it's just about whether video gaming is your favorite kind of gaming. Sounds like your favorite kind is board gaming (and like some sportslike activities, if they were considered games, would be even more appealing). For me, video gaming has become my favorite kind; no question about it. But I'm in the position of a chess player (someone who pretty much only plays chess) in BGG: is board gaming that person's main hobby? It's clearer and more accurate to just say chess is the hobby. Similarly, I probably ought to say single-player PC strategy games are my hobby.

And then, in some circles, I'd have to qualify that further. I might also have to name some other hobbies, since there are a few other things I do in my spare time.
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Zimeon wrote:
Interesting. I'm much more involved when I'm walking through a house in a video game, than when I watch another person do the same in a movie.

And when I watch a movie, I absorb their entire life into my experience, as opposed to aping out the act of walking down a hallway that someone made so that I would have to walk down it to make their game move forward.

As I said, what involves you obstructs me. For me, games are decidedly worse on the things you like them for, because they so emphasize their obstructions.

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But maybe we're talking about slightly different video game experiences, because in what I speak of, I'm not forced to take actions that aren't mine. Instead, I walk in this house of horror, and I can choose where to go. And I feel the fear of That Room That I Don't Want To Enter.

I think we're just favoring different perspectives. The actions you take are only the actions you are offered, and the consequences are predefined by the game. You feel you choose where to go, where I feel the system around me constraining my options. What particular hallway I go down is immaterial, and what I need to do is fixed and forced. The pretense of me being the protagonist is constantly and actively violated because the protagonist is not allowed to do what I want.

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xethair wrote:
Sorry, but from my perspective, that sounds unbelievably tedious and contrived, not remotely moving.
The previous scene might have been to some, but for me it was highly more effective than if I'd watched a movie or a cutscene, or read a book.

Sure, but I wasn't talking about you, which was a big part of the point. Naturally, everything you are saying about you is true for you, even though it is deeply wrong for me.

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But what I was really referring to with "conveying information" was the amount of meaning in the pressing of one button. I cannot imagine the movie counterpart.

For you. For me, that has no meaning beyond being forced to participate in tedious authorial wanking.

Again, I'm not saying your feelings are wrong or that you don't enjoy Brothers, and rightfully so. What I am saying is that it is an error to generalize your perspective to other people or games in general. To me, Brothers is an unbelievably poor game. I mean, just bad. It's like a car that's designed to toast bread rather than to travel, but worse, because Brothers fails specifically at its only point. Of course I have a low opinion of it. Brothers is practically what's wrong with gaming.

I have tried to embed several things to make this not sound overly antagonistic. I apologize if I haven't done that enough, and hope that adding this will help make up the difference. I'm not great at that, as it's not my style of discourse, plus doing too much of it gets both tedious and intrusive. I'm offering my perspective specifically because it is so precisely counter to your perspective. I don't intend us to agree on our perspectives, just on their validity.
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xethair wrote:
I think we're just favoring different perspectives. The actions you take are only the actions you are offered, and the consequences are predefined by the game. You feel you choose where to go, where I feel the system around me constraining my options. What particular hallway I go down is immaterial, and what I need to do is fixed and forced. The pretense of me being the protagonist is constantly and actively violated because the protagonist is not allowed to do what I want.


This is intriguing, because this is exactly how I feel with movies (not so much with books). I don't connect, because in the end, I'm not the one doing the actions. It's someone else who decides to walk down that corridor, and I'm like "why didn't you go THERE instead?". In the end, I'm watching someone else. I'm not there.


xethair wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
xethair wrote:
Sorry, but from my perspective, that sounds unbelievably tedious and contrived, not remotely moving.
The previous scene might have been to some, but for me it was highly more effective than if I'd watched a movie or a cutscene, or read a book.

Sure, but I wasn't talking about you, which was a big part of the point.


No, but _I_ was walking about me, just as you were talking about you and your experiences, right

xethair wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
But what I was really referring to with "conveying information" was the amount of meaning in the pressing of one button. I cannot imagine the movie counterpart.

For you. For me, that has no meaning beyond being forced to participate in tedious authorial wanking.


I've a hard time understanding this sensation – because I'm sure you feel that certain motions in movies, and certain words in books convey more than what they do on the surface. One single silent look, one single silent scene, can be used to convey much more information than a long explanation of the narrator. (I assume that you're of the same opinion here, though I might be wrong). This is what I'm referring to with that specific press of a button in Brothers (And mark, it's one very very special press of a button.)

Do you feel then, that it's annoying that you're "forced" to read that particular line of text, or would call that specific scene in the movie as "participating in tedious authorial wanking"?

Because I frankly don't see the difference. In one medium, I'm being given a piece of information (say, an actor gives a wink), and I understand exactly how much that wink means in this particular context. In the other medium, I press a button and it suddenly dawns on me exactly what the outcome means. It's quite similar.

xethair wrote:
Again, I'm not saying your feelings are wrong or that you don't enjoy Brothers, and rightfully so. What I am saying is that it is an error to generalize your perspective to other people or games in general.


The same, I'd wager. I'm not the only one who thinks the game is absolutely marvelous.

xethair wrote:
To me, Brothers is an unbelievably poor game. I mean, just bad. It's like a car that's designed to toast bread rather than to travel, but worse, because Brothers fails specifically at its only point.


Interesting, because your opinion is very similar to my initial opinion of Dragon Age: Downright bad, and doesn't even do what it's supposed to do very well. And horribly fails at important points.

I think it's a question of simply misunderstanding _what_ point the game wants to make, or simply not caring about that specific point. Or expecting things the game never intended to deliver, and being annoyed that the game doesn't deliver them. Brothers is an unbelievably excellent game. Just generally good. It's like a car that's designed to park perfectly, by turning all its wheels in 90°, and does it with such elegance that it's absolutely unrivalled. Of course I have a high opinion of it. Brothers is practically everything that gaming is about.

But perhaps the car doesn't race very well. Maybe you wanted a car that could race, and I didn't care for a fast car, I just wanted a car that was convenient to park.

xethair wrote:
I have tried to embed several things to make this not sound overly antagonistic. I apologize if I haven't done that enough, and hope that adding this will help make up the difference. I'm not great at that, as it's not my style of discourse, plus doing too much of it gets both tedious and intrusive. I'm offering my perspective specifically because it is so precisely counter to your perspective. I don't intend us to agree on our perspectives, just on their validity.


Thanks, but no worries – I have pretty thick skin, and I fully see your points. And I agree, I don't intend us to agree on our perspective, but I'm genuinely interesting in hearing yours. Agreeing opinions is never very interesting to discuss, but your opinion on Brothers is very much so, simply because it's so diametrically different from mine. Maybe it's not really possible to come to any closure in text – some sensations and experiences are hard to fully explain in forum texts – but differing opinions are usually worth analyzing. I've at many occasions learned many good things from being forced to fully explain why I like or dislike something.
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xethair wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
No argument, but I don't really support the hyperbole of calling two kinds of gaming "totally different." To me, it's impossible to name any two games that are totally different; if they're both games, they have something in common.

Microscope and Doom are totally different. Just because both fall under the label of "game" doesn't mean they have more in common than being some form of structured activity.

If they're both games, they have enough in common to fall under the same heading, to be put in the same class of things. If BGG/VGG/RPGG is a place for people to talk about games, then that class of things is the main topic at hand for all of us.

We could quibble endlessly over how different or similar two (or more) things ought to be before they're worth comparing. But I think we'd have to agree that the things must be at least somewhat similar and somewhat different. If they're not somewhat similar, the question would be silly--e.g., Which do you like better--bipartisan politics or lime Jello? And if the things are not somewhat different, the question would likewise be ridiculous--e.g., Is baseball your favorite sport, or do you prefer baseball?

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I don't consider vastly different kinds of gaming sufficiently alike to call "totally different" hyperbolic. In fact, I'd say doing that was itself more hyperbolic than calling things with no distinguishing features in common "totally different", and nit-picking like that just stakes a claim on rendering the phrase "totally different" unusable.

That's just an odd hair to split, and makes it sound like your priority was defending your question from my saying I don't like ranking unrelated things.

Actually, it was just a pedantic quibble over the word totally. It's used in ways that seem strange to me. Literally is another such word: if someone says, "He literally turned the house upside-down trying to find his lost keys," literally doesn't mean actually; it means the opposite--figuratively. Which is weird. To me it's also weird to say "totally" when you don't mean completely but only mean largely.

Anyhow, sorry. My whole career is tied up in the written word, and I get picky about things normal people don't care about.

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But someone out there would be sure to say, "You can't compare apples and oranges; they're two totally* different things." No they're not; they're both fruit! Of course you can compare them. You can certainly say which you like better (or say you like them both about equally).

Fruits have vastly more in common with each other and with the experience one gets from them than the various things that fall under the umbrella of gaming.

Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

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Yet, to take your analogy, fruits are still quite different, and ranking ones one likes would be odd and probably fairly arbitrary (the ways I use tomatoes really aren't comparable to how I use oranges), but that just emphasizes how little is gained ranking things with even less in common.

Now we're starting to get somewhere.

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I also don't particularly see the value in ranking favorite things amongst each other, because such rankings ultimately fall to pretty arbitrary and unimportant distinctions which do more to ignore the unique values I like things for than they offer in the fairly valueless act of placing one over another.

There we go--the crux of the matter, the real point at which we disagree. I personally see tremendous value in reflecting on, considering, and reconsidering how much various things mean to me. My spectrum of likes and dislikes, in all kinds of categories, makes me who I am, so to speak. Each and every preference is a personal statement, a comment on my personality, my approach to life, whatever makes me that unique snowflake. And it's endlessly fascinating to me to compare the pattern of my "snowflake self" to the patterns of all the snowflakes around me. Yeah, it's a flaky thing to do, but I can't help it; it's who I am and what I do.

So, when I ask about your favorite game or favorite fruit or whatever, I couldn't care less about the games or fruits themselves. I'm asking about you--about what kind of person you are. If you say you like Microscope better than Doom, I might think, "Hmm, that's interesting. I've always liked Doom better myself. I wonder what would make a person like Microscope better." I probably won't ever get a good answer, but that's OK; for me, it's enough that one of us would have some kind of leaning toward Microscope and another toward Doom. It might be a temporary leaning; it might be an off-the-cuff response. Doesn't matter. It means something. Everything means something.

As it stands right now, it's fascinating to me that you've said Microscope and Doom are so different that you'd never even consider ranking one above the other. To you it'd be like ranking bipartisan politics above or below lime Jello. That makes me smile and also scratch my head. It's hard for me to see how anyone could regard two games as so completely different. I wonder if you'd also have trouble saying whether you prefer baseball or football. I get the impression you'd say each is good in its own way and there's no point in ranking them. So I guess I've got you pegged as a non-ranker.

My whole purpose--and the whole purpose of the VGG QotD, as far as I can see--is for the people who participate to get to know each other a little bit. It's like shouting out choices in a crowd of people, just as an ice-breaking technique: Everest or K2? Stones or Beatles? Rock climbing or kayaking? Cheers or Seinfeld? You're just checking out people's tastes for the fun of it.

If a person responds with more than a terse answer, that's great; it adds more to the conversation. "I like Microscope better than Doom because the colors in Doom displease me and the action is too fast-paced for my liking" says something more about the person. Here's a person who, for whatever reason, leans toward a different color range and slower action. Cool. That's neat to know.

From my point of view, it's all about people--their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. The fact that all the people around here are into video games gives us enough common ground to get conversations going.

Furthermore, if each of us stuck to discussing only the specific games we play, or a narrow range of games, we'd be excluding each other from the conversation all the time. I've never heard of Microscope until now, and I only played a Doom demo many years ago, and only briefly. I'd have nothing to say about those games. And there are thousands more games I'd have nothing to say about. But ask me a question about video gaming in general, and I can babble on and on. (And when I do, I'll be babbling about myself much more than about video gaming, because I can only speak from my very limited experience.)

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Is there some kind of game I'd prefer over the video games I play if, say, my circumstances were different?

This is easy for me, because as great as great RPGing is, it's just unreasonably difficult to get. If I were ranking such wildly disparate activities that feed totally different desires (oops, can they be totally different if they are both desires? :O), I'd put it on top, but it's impossible to give it the majority of my time. Even if such a situation were realistic, I wouldn't have the social energy for that much RPGing. I don't think liking something slightly less than some other thing you can't do as much is terribly notable. We can't perfectly optimize our time.

Well, FWIW, I think you just added something of value simply by saying what you said. It's a good point: that there are various ways we can go about deciding what our favorite kind of gaming (or whatever) is. In the case of fruit, I might say apples because I eat more apples than anything else; but then again, maybe I like the taste of cherries or strawberries better and should therefore call one of those my favorite.

In gaming, is my favorite whatever I spend the most time on? Or is it what I desire most? And if I want to go deeper, why are those not the same? What's keeping me from playing the games I like best?

It all adds to the conversation. It all does a little bit to help us get to know ourselves and each other.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
If they're both games, they have enough in common to fall under the same heading, to be put in the same class of things. If BGG/VGG/RPGG is a place for people to talk about games, then that class of things is the main topic at hand for all of us.


On a related note, I've thought about this lately, and I find that the scope within each type of game (video game, RPG, board game), is larger than the median difference between the types.

………ehm, that was a weird way to phrase it, maybe. What I mean is that the difference between a video game and a video game, is larger than the difference between certain video games and certain board games. (I play all three types of games, but I find that I play them all for the same base reason.)

Now, this revelation isn't exactly revolutionary, but it struck me that I'm not so much a video gamer or a board gamer, than someone who searches for a specific type of entertainment, and I search for the same thing in all of the three types. The basic [something] I'm looking for is always the same. Or at least, very similar.
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Zimeon wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
If they're both games, they have enough in common to fall under the same heading, to be put in the same class of things. If BGG/VGG/RPGG is a place for people to talk about games, then that class of things is the main topic at hand for all of us.

On a related note, I've thought about this lately, and I find that the scope within each type of game (video game, RPG, board game), is larger than the median difference between the types.

………ehm, that was a weird way to phrase it, maybe. What I mean is that the difference between a video game and a video game, is larger than the difference between certain video games and certain board games. (I play all three types of games, but I find that I play them all for the same base reason.)

Now, this revelation isn't exactly revolutionary, but it struck me that I'm not so much a video gamer or a board gamer, than someone who searches for a specific type of entertainment, and I search for the same thing in all of the three types. The basic [something] I'm looking for is always the same. Or at least, very similar.

Hear, hear! Though you and I no doubt look for different things, I can very much relate to what you're saying. When I moved from board gaming to video gaming, it was because I found I could enjoy the same kinds of games I'd always enjoyed. I wasn't looking for anything new or different.

Basically, I always liked the strategic and tactical decision-making in board games ranging from chess and go to wargames to games like Advanced Civilization and Merchant of Venus. And I didn't care about what other players were bringing to the games; in fact, it was a drawback that other players were even needed. I'd rather have been able to get that gaming experience while playing by myself.

Strategy PC games allow me to do just that, so it was a natural transition for me.

When I tried RPGs a few times, I found less of what I was after, but still some. I played Baldur's Gate and Planescape and Icewind Dale because for me it was just a series of battles, and in those battles I could enjoy the kind of gaming I'd always enjoyed. But if I got together with people at a table to play an RPG, I'd get restless and annoyed. The battles wouldn't be entirely mine to command; I'd have to cooperate with other players; there'd be a lot of story between battles; and so on. I have no interest in improv acting, and I don't care much about the narrative. I just want to command my forces and conquer the map.

Even sports are like that in a way. I avoid team sports like the plague. The sporting activities I like are individual things like hiking, biking, and kayaking. There, I can pick a destination and go for it; and my enjoyment comes from journeying, overcoming any obstacles along the way, and making it to my chosen goal. I command all the resources at my disposal, and I "conquer the map," so to speak, just by getting from point A to point B. I also build strength and skill in the activity, just as I build mental strength and skill when playing a strategy game, so that I become capable of handling greater challenges in the future.

But I suspect relatively few other gamers go after what I do. And maybe few others go after what you do (maybe your discussion about that Brothers game is evidence of that). That's why I think it pays to raise and answer very general questions about video gaming here. The discussion topic has to be broad enough to include many people with disparate tastes and interests. The alternative would be to break into subgroups based on gaming genres or individual games, and it's silly to consider breaking up an already small group of people.

We have to focus on what common ground we have. And then we're free to explore all the interesting differences. But if we abandon the common ground, we lose each other.
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