Friday, December 13, 2013

Classics Lecture Series: Moves That Mess With Your Opponents - Sorry

Do not be tricked by the name Sorry. You are not Sorry that you sent your opponent's piece back to the start of the race. You are proud. You are so proud that sometimes you even choice to mess with your opponent when it was not in your best interests because you are having fun messing with your opponent.

Board Games with more than one person is about interaction. If none of your moves in the game affected other players then you are just participating in a race of complex solitaire. The human element, that back and forth of trying to anticipate and outguess the person sitting across from you is removed.

Sorry creates player interaction by empowering your opponents to take an action that directly hurts you in the game. Sure, some players prefer to play a game like Pandemic where players interact by working together towards some common goal.  But sometimes, after a hard day, what you really need is a head to head competition where you pull every trick in the book to take down your opponent before they reach their moment of glory.

More importantly games that explicitly empower you to mess with your opponent are a stark reminder of the differences between a board game, and other professional activities like trading stocks on Wall Street. On Wall Street people are trying to make as much money as possible irregardless of how wealthy or poor it makes other traders. Board game players usually are not trying to get the highest score possible, just one point more than the other guy. 

Sorry teaches players it does not matter whether or not you moved your piece more than any other player. Sorry teaches us what matters is taking the right set of actions to achieve the victory condition.  That asking for forgiveness later is more fun than asking for permission first, particularly when it means you are going to win the game.

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