i had an interesting experience over a monopoly board game with some family that touches on Game design talking points, you guys might enjoy. I will lay out everything as it happened and then give my interpretation of it...
so there was me, my wife, my younger sister, and my baby sister (8) sitting around the board at the table, while my mom was being a back seat driver from to sofa.
Everything started off well, i ended up in jail, and the little one offered me her get out of jail free card, which i thought was a good opportunity to reward her generosity, and gave her a whopping 500 bill in return. I thought it was clear at this point that i didn't really care to win, but was just playing for the dumb fun of it..
reason being, the game is heavily based on random chance, so to take it seriously was not really in my interest at the time. The little one didn't really understand the game, was either too complicated for her to learn, or she simply didn't care to learn, instead wanting to give her money away on her turns and never buy any properties, that was how she was enjoying it.
So neither me or the little one where taking the game seriously, but just enjoyed being silly about it.
Now, my wife and sister on the other hand, they did want to play the game seriously, and didn't like that the little one was giving her money away to me because that broke the game in their eyes, ruining the fairness of it. They accused me of encouraging her behavior because i was benefiting from it. One more point they made was that learning the game rules was important for her, and she is opting out of the learning experience.
My mom also jumped in and scolded the little one for not following the rules, and i was shut down by majority vote before any mature conflict resolution could come of it, until after the game when i opened it back up for discussion.
I started by acknowledging some of their points as being valid, for example the fact that kids should learn the rules of games and that there are valuable learning opportunities to be had for kids by playing the game as its intended, and also understanding that if they wanted to take the game seriously, they dont deserve to have other derail the game for them.
People who play a game and dont take it seriously can have fun any which way it goes, while people who DO want to take it serious and compete can only enjoy it if they have a fair playing field. In the case of monopoly with the central game feature being chance that leads to inevitable unfairness, at least if everyone is playing by the rules, everyone equally has a chance to get lucky or un lucky, vs a kid giving some of their money away to who they want
after this i tried to explain my intentions where not to de rail the game and that we all could have had better communication, but my sister couldn't possibly understand why i wouldn't want to take the game seriously, arguing the game is a game of skill and i was making excuses by saying its random. She not design minded like i am but still that frustrated me she can't see how luck based the game is
My wife on the other hand, AND THIS IS THE GOOD PART PAY ATTENTION;
when we talked it all out, she could see my point, understanding that the game is more luck the skill. Now, i asked her,
"do you still enjoy the game even though in theory its possible for you to make all the right decisions and still lose?"
She said yes because she simply enjoyed the engagement of excersing whatever percentage of decision making there is in the game. (paraphrasing) But she also added that, despite the luck based mechanic, she still aims to win.. to which i asked,
"even if you can lose after you demonstrated the most skill?"
and she said yes i would be okay with that, because i knew what i was getting myself into, it's how the game is structured from the start so you go into it prepared to be outplayed by forces out of your control (again paraphrasing she does not talk like that XD)
and now my aftermath thoughts:
Its just like when i play call of duty, i don't go into the experience expecting a balanced and fair competitive game, i know by now after several game cycles thats not what the game is, its a skinner box feel good army super soldier simulator, with some skills that can be exersised and enjoy the engagement of for however long and however often they are available to me. And i don't get mad when the rug is pulled out from underneath me and i get blown up by a claymore because i don't expect a balanced experience going into it
I still think it is fair to criticise games that make themselves a judge of competence by including a leaderboards at the end when the game is not balanced for competition. They should be consistent and just have each game be for xp grinding, or make efforts to have a balanced experience.
But at the end of the day, if you feel entitled to win based on your merit in every experience that exists despite it's track record for NOT being good at providing that, you are simply banging your head against a steel beam that could have just as easily been walked around