Handicaps are a regular feature of some games and sports, go and golf being two prime examples. Often among game players it is resisted, however, because if they play at an advantage and win – well – it isn’t really a victory. I used to be in that camp, but became a complete convert a long time ago playing squash.
My experience playing squash was that of being crushed repeatedly by my more advanced opponent, and while I enjoyed the game it was a bit depressing. We talked about handicaps, but I was resistant because I felt like that would take away the value of the win if I did win. Eventually we tried it though, and I immediately started having a much better time. I realized my resistance was founded on a false premise, that if I win without a handicap it was a glorious victory. In fact, if someone is much better at squash they will expend less energy beating you, and how glorious is it if your victory was based on your opponent slightly underestimating how much energy he had to expend? It was wonderful seeing that my opponent was working now as hard as I was every game, and that if they slacked I could take advantage of it.
This interview might interest folks that are reading this blog:
Games with Garfield LIVE at PAX
Richard will be on the “Game Design 101″ panel at PAX Friday Morning.
Tyler will be on the “Original Gangstas” panel at PAX this Friday night.
Come by for the panels and say hello afterwards (we would love to hear what you think of our podcasts).
Tyler’s panel is in the Unicorn Theater at 6:00pm on Friday, September 4th at PAX, Richard’s will be the same room but at 10:30am.
All the information can be found here;
See you Friday!
This article refers to competitive games of more than two sides where one player or side can be eliminated. I am not referring to cooperative or semicooperative games, or two sided games, or single player games. This is specifically about where one player or side is eliminated from the game and the game continues on without them.
Games that eliminate players are often regarded negatively with a knee jerk reaction. I believe it often sends people back to games of Risk or Monopoly where a player was eliminated and had to watch for hours as the game plodded on. Some of my favorite games eliminate players, and I have thought a lot about whether I like them despite their elimination of players or perhaps a bit more because of it. I have come to the conclusion, that for me, elimination of players is not inherently better or worse than leaving players in for the whole game, but each have their own risks.
If a player is eliminated there is a risk that player will grow bored and frustrated with their non-participant status. If a player is not eliminated there is a risk the player will find themselves in a position where they don’t believe they can win, and they may still grow bored or frustrated – and worse – they may use what influence they have in the game to disrupt the remaining players. This is what I like to call effective elimination, which is in many ways worse than simple elimination.