Friday, March 10, 2006

Games: A stage for a Social Play

3 in the morning... again.....fighting to keep my eyes awake.. to update my space.. cos if i don;t do it now.. really wonder when I will find the time and discipline.. rough week... technically.. "the 10 days of hell" are supposed to end today.... but somehow they got extended three more days.. to make it the 13 days of hell.. how fitting.. ARGHHH.. I am digressing again.. on with the questions please... today.. its all about acting... if a player is like an actor who is able to show a myriad of emotions in context of the script, the player must also be able to play roles driven by different motives in context of the game....
Question #1:
Describe the social interactions which you observed during play. In what way did these interactions emerge from within the formal elements of the game?
Oh.. before any answering.. first let me state that i am doing the analysis on "Little Max"... cos it was my first time playing and I guess it would be more interesting to do an analysis based on a newer game as compared to "Mafia," which i have like played SO many iterations of it...
Well... I guess the name of the game in "Little Max" is all about bluffing and guessing. The interactions between players take the form of one trying to bluff (or not) his dice roll, trying to get away with it if he fails to ACTUALLY beat the score, and the other player trying to read the previous player's call... and discern if he/she is telling the truth or not.. hence determining the move to make.. whether to roll or to challenge.
The game rules are actually set for players to bluff... as with rules like he must call higher than the previous player.. are already implying lies to be told if the player happens to not be able to get a higher score.. just as the rule of only letting the player himself see the number he/she rolled..
On the other player's side, the interaction manifests itself in the form of observation, trying to observe the bluffing player's body language and establishing eye contact to try to attempt to figure out if the call is a ruse or not. Again.. this form of interaction presents itself because of the window of opportunity for bluffing that the formal rules sets for players. So, in order to minimize the risk of elimination from the game by making a wrong guess(also a rule), the next player actually attempts to employ his/her knowledge and experience of body language and eye contact from the real world (outside the magic circle) in the context of the game.
Also, some emergent behavior I noticed.. and did participate in.... was taunting. To some extent I saw some ppl (maybe only me?) who were not actually in play at that moment, jeering other players and encouraging them from making a move... be it challenge or accept. This adds an element or a role rather.. of harassment between the players (who are actually involved in the bluff).. and the other players that are supposed to be looking.
Question #2:
Using Sutton-Smith's categorization of social play roles, discuss how the players' roles changed during the course of the game.
Since the game takes place in consecutive turns, a player's specific turn always begins with the previous player calling out a number (in most cases, unless there was an elimination previously). So the first role the player takes is having to guess.. which I think is the counteracting role of harassment, where it is up to the player to see through the other player's bluff. But one interesting thing about little max is how the role moves on from there... cos if the player chooses to accept.. then he in turn becomes the actor and tries to bluff the next player with a higher call, or to bluff them into challenging his call if it is true. However, if the player chooses to challenge the call, then he is actually further extending his counteractor role of not only trying to see through the previous player's bluff, but also to take an action of exposing it. So IMO, the role varies based on the player action taken.
For the rest of the players not involved, they may choose to play a supporting role or not. If they choose to taunt the current player, or attempt to convince him into one of the choices, they are also harassing the current player in a way. And so once the player has cleared his turn, he then has a choice to switch to a supporting actor in harassment, or just be a neutral onlooker.
However, the roles played above are instantaneous, which only applies for one player's turn, be it the involved players or the supporting onlookers. I would guess the long term role of each and every player is the actor and counteractor in a race, a race to see who can actually stay the longest in the game without being eliminated. Each player is trying to outlast the other and stay in the game at the same time through the individual play instances.
Question #3:
Suggest a modification to the game which will alter the social dynamics that emerge during play.
oh.. the "what if" section.... well.. since we are here.. then how about this... "what if" players could actually see the number the last player rolled even if he/she decides to accept it and call a higher number? even though the change might seem minor... i think the implications of such a change in the rules would make the game either more interesting or easier. Like even though by letting the next player see the previous roll regardless, it is seemingly easier to guess the last player's character, but it might not always be the case. I feel that it might add a new mental element to play as if the game goes around more than once, players can use this "history" of being honest or not to their advantage as they can try to create a ruse first then later tell the truth when the next player is not expecting it and chooses to challenge it instead.
Another idea is to use three dice instead of two and call out two of the desired numbers. I would think that such a mod would expand the field of play, as it gives players more choices to choose from, however, it might or might not alter the interactions significantly.
Well... guess that;s it for tonite.. don;t you just LOVE minimalist entries.. anyway.. an ending note on assignment 2.. seems that the mafia mod of vampire is really not working out.. and honestly.. I don;t think I can find a way around the lack of feedback thing w/o making it too much like mafia... so.. i am gonna bring up a new idea.. a sorta find the pairs come pass the parcel hybrid.. probably more original.. but really don;t know if it will work out well.. well.. guess we'll see.... till then......


Blogger alex said...

The modification to show the previous dice roll is an interesting idea. I think it would definitely alter the play experience, as you could build up an impression of who is trustworthy and who isn't...

2:00 PM  

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