Games are unique when you compare them to other recreational hobbies like reading books and watching movies. They are much more interactive and create a shared group experience. Sure, you can join a book club or watch a movie together, but with games, you have a hand in crafting the story that plays out. Even better, the story of a game is different every time you play. Some games really lend themselves to being played over and over. There’s a hook that bring us back to the table to re-experience them.
For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, we talked to Daniel Legault, a Game Guru and Library Curator at Snakes and Lattes Board Games Café, about what factors make a game replayable.
Gateway games (games that are good representations of the hobby, but in an easily digestible format), by their nature, are meant to be played over and over again. If you’re reading this article, you probably have been tasked with introducing people to the hobby at some point, and gateway games are a great resource. We all have our favorite gateways. We play gateways repeatedly because they’re our tool for bringing in new gamers.
“Gateway games tend to get replayed quite often by all weight classes of gamers, due to familiarity and the low entry level,” says Legault. “There are a range of games that get people into the hobby and get them to stick around. People return to these games time and time again. Even with the draw of the cult of the new, personal classics exist on everyone’s shelf, even if they have more complex or richer games.”
Whether you’re playing a Legacy game, or the latest Zombicide adventure, when the overall game doesn’t conclude at the end of a gaming session, that’s a sure-fire way to make you return to that title. You’ve invested yourself into the adventure and you want to see how it plays out.
“In these games, you grow as things progress,” says Legault. “For example, in Arcadia Quest or Massive Darkness, you advance your heroes so you tend to grow attached to them and the progress of the story. There's an end goal and everyone's battling towards it, be it in a single session or as the story continues. You and your group of friends have a reason to return to the game.”
Short Play Time
Longer games are better under certain circumstances, but if you just want to get in a quick session at lunch, or play a bunch of fillers before diving into an epic title, short games are great! They are less of a commitment and because of this, we tend to play them more times.
“Games with a short play time are often played regularly due to a lack of investment. These titles tend to have quicker teaches and because of that, it's easier to get them to the table,” says Legault. “Bulkier games tend to be more of a destination. That is to say, you tend to plan the night specifically around that title.”
Some games show you what they’re all about right from the very first play. You can see what the strategy is and quickly become an expert. Other titles have layers of strategy that are only uncovered after multiple plays. They beg you to look below the surface and find interesting ways to use the mechanics to your advantage.
“In the case of a game like Blood Rage, its replayablity comes from its forging of new strategies inherent in the cards that are drafted” explains Legault. “Each play experience can feel a little different, and that's a key component to the enjoyment. The nature of most games is that they rely on going through the motions inherent to the gameplay, but most games also thrive on that spark of chaos that human interaction brings to the table. Even a game like Chess, with rigid systems in place, needs the human component of an unexpected choice to make it replayable.”
What games do you replay again and again? What makes a game replayable in your opinion? Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #CMONFeatureFriday and let us know.