This article is contributed by @Nick Kellet: Creative Ideas/Startup guy. Indie game publisher. Social media/Collaboration explorer. Futurist. Interactive/Conversational Video fan. Also @gifttrap @hustream
We played a whole bunch of board games over the holidays and something struck me – we just can’t read rules. Is this a sign of the end of humanity?
I’ve always been sensitive to “rules” as a board game publisher – I hate the idea of having to defend my own rules and fortunately have rarely had to do so. Nobody ever says your rules are good, but if they are bad they get mentioned loads. The Science of rule writing is the subject of it’s own blog post.
Here is one that we found: Game Rules as Art
We all know people play Monopoly wrong (house rules!). I always thought that was because we learn Monpoly by osmosis, it’s almost part of our DNA. Can you ever remember reading the rules (don’t try they are long and horrid). Fortunately most games aren’t too sensitive to the odd irregularity so in most cases everyone still has fun.
We played three games that I can highly recommend; PowerGrid, Alhambra and Pandemic. There were severals groups playing and each had played these games independently. What we discovered was that we’d all been playing them incorrectly in one way or another. In the end with PowerGrid we typed up our own summary so we don’t fall back into bad habits, and I think I’ve now played as intended.
The details of what we played wrong doesn’t matter here, but Pandemic was the funniest. We didn’t win once and that seemed wrong as I’d won it when I’d played it before at game club. On rereading the rules we’d completely misread how to cause an outbreak, so our diseases were spreading faster than intended – hence our losses.
I think the biggest tip is don’t let anyone read rules in front of other people – the social pressure is to much and our brain and reading skills breakdown. With rules, once we get it wrong, we keep going and we establish our own version of the game. It’s well worth re-reading rules and even writing summaries or annotating your rules sets with mental triggers.
Beyond gaming I wonder if we actually read anything correctly anymore. We’re so tuned to skimming emails, articles, even blog posts just like this one. If we can’t read and consume well written text society faces some serious problems. If reading is failing, what is next?
Is video the answer? You may be unaware, but there is a huge trend on the Internet. Every statistic you read points to the dramatic uptake in the consumption of video as the preferred communication. With the dramatic rise of video, I wonder if this is either the solution or the cause. It’s a good question for which I’m not quite sure of the answer. I’m sure thinking about that question may lead to a few more posts.
How about you? Do you think we’ve lost the ability to consume information? Is the board game dead? Is a simple card game the limit of our comprehension and attention span? Is this post too long? Would you rather watch a video? Does the answer vary by generation? Lots of questions!