Magic, Game-Games, Story-Games, Jacob, and Me

I've posted a massive rant over on SG. It's actually kind of interesting. I did this instead of reading "Only Revolutions", so I hope someone gets some use out of it!

(I may expand this, either here or there. Any ideas, folks? Tell me stuff!)

Two personal thoughts.

Some time ago, I created an RPG ("Struggle") with very competitive elements. It was designed for two players, very quickly, and it wasn't perfect. But it had some good bits. My friend and I tried it, and had an interesting story. We both enjoyed ourselves; but it was clear that I enjoyed it more than he did. He seemed kind of... let down, after. But he decided to play it again.

So we did, much to the same result. He said to me after, "I think you've got some good ideas here, and this could be a good game. But it's not a game for me.". He stated the competitive elements (and the fact that they overwhelmed the story at times), as one reason. I think Rob had a similar moment here ("I'm sure this is great, but it's just not for me"), and it's actually got me thinking about a few things.

The other thought involves Magic. I've played that for longer than I've played RPGs, but probably less often - at least 7 or 8 years, though. And every time I play in a "serious" environment, like a tournament or at a card store (with strangers), I feel kind of "meh". Not bad, but not great.

But when I'm with friends, playing, I enjoy myself much more. And it's not just who I'm playing with. We still play to win, always, to the best of our ability. But A) We try to do it in fun ways, and B) We don't really care all that much.

But, primarily, the "fun" I get when playing Magic is the same "fun" I get when playing many RPGs (Beast Hunters comes to mind, as does Baron Munchausen) - throwing each other into tricky situations and watching them escape. It's racing to find the right solution. It's doing something clever or tricky. It is, on occasion, drawing the right card at the right time.

I'm rambling here, but the main point is this: Both RPGs and board/card games have spectrum of playing styles, both within types of games and within a particular game. This isn't really news, but it affects people all the time - and I daresay there's interesting, not-fully-explored design lessons in that fact.