August 2009
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Day 08/23/2009

Player Elimination

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.