Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

Documentary film-maker Jay Cheel has put together an enjoyable little video that looks at the group dynamics of multiplayer board-gaming, through the lens of his own informal gaming group and a game of Settlers of Catan. As he notes on his blog:

Here’s a new short that I filmed with some friends over the past month. It’s a 10 minute documentary called “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends”; a title that pretty much sums up the content. Over the last year, me and my group of friends have become quasi-casual board gamers. It all started with the occasional game of Dutch Blitz and Speed Scrabble, but when The Settlers of Catan was brought into the mix, we were all hooked. The others have had some fun with other similar games (Pandemic, Power Grid, Carcassonne), but I don’t think any of them come close to the fun of playing Catan.

A little while ago, our friend Gerry had a bit of an outburst during one of our matches. He blew up at us all and then went home, claiming he’d never play with us again. It was an awkward moment that I immediately thought was worthy of some discussion. Our “in game” personalities are quite different from the “real” us, so I thought it might be interesting to talk to those involved and see what sort of insight they have on each others gaming personalities. Also, the idea of handling such a trivial subject in such a serious manner was irresistible. This is a comedy, first and foremost.

It’s worth noting that I was actually present at this game and was sort of involved in the outburst. Or at least I felt some of the fallout from it. I decided to leave myself out of the story simply due to logistics and practicality. I shoot all of my own stuff, so I didn’t feel it was necessary to put myself on camera (which I’m frankly not interested in anyways). It’s also worth noting that Gerry has consistently blown up at every single game since this one.

Regular gamers will recognize many of the personalities, quirks, and group dynamics in evidence: the intensely competitive players and the more laid back ones, trash-talking, friendship, and players with thin skins. Differences in background, age, and formal education also make an appearance, as does the importance of snacks.

Oh, and yes—that annoying player who takes forever to make his or her move, even though they’ve had ages to plan it. We’ve all been there…

h/t Purple Pawn

One response to “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

  1. Ronald Skip Cole 02/06/2012 at 3:08 pm

    You know, I finally found 10 minutes of time in my life to watch this video, and I’m glad I did.

    Great video! Thanks for sharing.

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