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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Variant: What kind of Gamer are you?


While perusing the interwebs, I came across an interesting article by Dave Lartique over at Analog Gaming.  It describes the most common gamer archetypes.  It made me smile because, over the course of many years of gameplay, I've pretty much run into every type of person described.  I contacted the site and they were kind enough to give me permission to reproduce the gamer types here for discussion.

I've made some edits for length, spelling, and grammar, but I'd encourage you to read the original article here.

1.  Deep Thought
Is it this player’s turn? Hope you brought a magazine! Deep Thought has to completely analyze every possible move he can make and extend it out to its logical conclusion to determine which is the optimal one. If there’s math in the game, he’ll do it. He wants to know how much money everyone has, how many points, who has actions left this round, the relative humidity, if anyone is diabetic, current position of Saturn; anything that can possibly factor into his calculations must be taken into account before he can risk any all-important decision. (And all decisions are important.) Trying to hurry him up will just make him lose count and have to start over.

2.  The Coach
The Coach enjoys his turn so much, he makes it last through your turn as well. After all, he’s a much better player than you and you can probably benefit from his helpful advice. Why would you want to make your own decisions when The Coach can easily show you better ones? He’s not trying to sabotage your game, either, just make you a more worthy opponent. Wouldn’t you rather just be there to move pieces for him so that he can essentially play himself — the only true challenge he has at this table?

3.  Blood Ninja
Blood Ninja wants to win. Period. Oh sure, we all want to win, but Blood Ninja lives only to win. No less will do. If he does not win, something went horribly wrong. Either someone wasn’t playing right, or there’s too much randomness in the game, or sinister forces conspired to deny him a victory he so obviously earned. He may find a way afterward to explain that, although it doesn’t seem like he won, when you think about it, he really did. That’s only if he doesn’t win. And during the game, if his winning makes things utterly miserable for everyone else, so be it. The important thing is that he wins. Because really, what else matters?

4.  Social Joe
Hey everyone, Social Joe is here! Boardgaming is a social activity and no one knows that more than Social Joe. Say, that card you just played reminds me of a story! Hey, I’m gonna go have a smoke! Oh hey, where’s your computer? You gotta see this YouTube video! Oh yeah, I have to make a move, don’t I? Screw it, I’ll just do this. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore! Hey, anyone want another beer?

5.  Serious Joe
What are you talking about? Serious Joe also likes having a good time. A good time is quiet, focused play with opponents who are all working at their best. Sure, sometimes things get a little raucous and someone chuckles, but we tend to keep that kind of horseplay away from the game table (along with all food and drinks, because maybe you want your games to look like garbage, but I don’t). The good news is, Serious Joes pretty much can’t stand to play with anyone who isn’t a Serious Joe, so they tend to self-segregate.

6.  The Negotiator
Everything has a price. Everything’s negotiable. So says The Negotiator. No matter what the game, what the situation, he’s ready to make a deal. Don’t take the action I want and I’ll not take the action you want. If you leave me alone, I won’t play this card against you. Sure, that’s a featured part of many games, but the Negotiator makes it the main part of every game. Even if he’s completely stomping you and you don’t stand a chance, he has an offer for you to consider. (He can also, in a pinch, explain how everyone at the table except him is a threat to you right now, and they only way you stand a chance is to team up with him against them.) Very often his offers consist of something you can do for him for which, in return, he won’t attack you, but “threat” is such an ugly word.

7.  Whiney Whinerson
Double-dubs never does good at this game. And the cards aren’t shuffled well. Also, dice hate him. People are teaming up against him for no reason. That guy isn’t playing right. He didn’t get much sleep last night. He can’t see which cards are in front of you. There’s glare on the board. It’s hot in here. He’s not used to playing by these rules. That one strategy is unstoppable. People are playing too fast. People are playing too slow. Someone’s playing a denial deck. He can’t seem to draw a magic item. The start player has too much of an advantage. This board layout is strange. That card is broken and un-fun. Can we get better light in here? He’s just used to playing green. And then he wins.

8.  Johnny Takeback
When Johnny Takeback plays a videogame, he saves his game constantly. Unfortunately there’s no such thing in boardgames, but he makes do. While Deep Thought agonizes for years over his move, he eventually makes one and sticks with it. Johnny Takeback does the same agonizing but can’t settle. He’ll make and unmake a move several times, paying and restoring his cash or resources or whatever each time until only he has any idea what his “save game state” is. He’s not cheating, he just can’t settle on a course of action. In addition, once his turn is over, he still hasn’t decided. He may need to re-think it again. Or he might have forgotten to get his money. Or maybe he was going to do a point of damage to you with his war wizard, but he forgot. Is it okay if he just goes ahead and does that?

9.  Someone’s Friend
Usually Someone’s Girlfriend, but not always. Someone’s Friend showed up for game day! Now, if that friend is really interested in trying out boardgames, this is great. More often than not, though, Someone’s Friend has just been dragged into this. They have no interest in playing, can’t (or won’t) follow the rules, are pretty much just doing whatever Someone tells them to do, and pretty much having a miserable time. This is not the fault of Someone’s Friend (though often they will continue to insist on participating even after it’s more than clear that they’re not really interested), it’s the Someone who will keep pushing them into this. Nevertheless, you can count on a pretty lousy time for everybody.

10.  Captain Chaos
Have your boardgames become too stale and predictable? Captain Chaos is here to liven things up! He doesn’t care if he wins or loses, so long as he has a good time, and what he considers a good time is making the entire game unbearable for everyone else. Do you have any kind of strategy whatsoever? Too bad, because Captain Chaos is going to behave in a completely unpredictable manner and do things that don’t help him in the slightest just to screw with you. If you get frustrated by all this, lighten up, it’s just a game! And God help you if he somehow ends up winning.

11.  Mr. Fix-It
You’ll know you’re playing with Mr. Fix-It before you even open the box. He’ll take a look at the cover and tell you how the fonts and color choices are all wrong, and what they should have done. Then he’ll examine the components and be totally amazed that any serious company would make these kinds of mistakes with them. He can tell you what kind of cardstock they should have used and why the finish is all wrong for the board. And speaking of the board, who the hell came up with that awful design and color scheme? Through Mr. Fix-It you’ll find out how the rules SHOULD have been written and what player aids they should have included. Once you start playing, he’ll determine, on first play, what strategies are “broken” and how poorly the game was playtested. After that first play, he’ll have the whole game figured out and a list of ways to improve it. He’s got the answers.

In my group of about seven regular players, we have a Negotiator, two Social Joes, one Blood Ninja, two Serious Joes and one guy that just sort of plays.  We're converting him from a casual.  One of our Social Joes sometimes will turn into a Captain Chaos depending on the game situation.

Of course, I see little bits of myself in a lot of these descriptions.  I know I've had periods of being a Deep Thought on occasion, and I'm guilty of some Johnny Takeback behaviors from time to time.  But, I think I'm closest to a Serious Joe.  I'm not nearly so serious as the description, but I do like highly competitive games with all players playing to win it.  And I refuse to play with any Whiney Whinersons.

What about you?  What category do you fit in?  Who plays at your table?

1 comment:

  1. I'm probably the Coach! But in my defense, I often play with people who are new to games I've played 50 times, so I'm just trying to help!

    Also I tend to help myself into losing Last Night on Earth as zombies almost every time. "I wouldn't go there, I'll completely destroy you there"