How Games Bring Out the Worst in Us, Part 2

Last post, we talked about how being picked on in a game has the potential to sour relationships and how kingmakers can turn people off certain games. Today, we will continue on to Part 2 of how games bring out the worst in us.

The next way a game can bring out the worst in us is…

2.  Allow players to be effectively or actually taken out of the game.

I got into “modern” board games through a tame group of friends in university. One of the first things we played was Bang! For those who don’t know, Bang! is a role guessing game. It is because people have no idea who each other are, you might end up with situations where innocents are being scapegoated and killed off just for the sake of information. In Bang! when you are killed off, you stay out of the game until it is over. Having said all that, one time I was playing with this group of friends and I saw a girl RAGE! I mean RAAAGGGEEE for a good while because she was prematurely killed off. After another forty minutes, she sat back down for the next round, out for vengeance and won.

I remember in one of the earlier iterations of my designs, I had rules that allowed players to be taken out. You can just see the expressions sour when testers are on the brink of being knocked out or have it happen out right. Back then, I didn’t have enough sense to cut the session short and testers ended up suffering through the playtest experience more than they should. When that particular session ended and testers were asked how they felt about the game, I was met with silence.

We play games because it is a social activity that many people can participate in. When people get knocked out and have to sit and watch, it defeats the purpose of the game. In addition, people are likely teamed up on and then knocked out. This results in a more extreme reaction than merely being picked on. At least if the game rules didn’t allow for knock outs, the player being picked on still has the satisfaction of being kingmaker. If they are knocked out, they are even denied that last bit of fun from retribution.

There is one thing worse than being knocked out. This is being kept alive because other players thought it would be “merciful” to keep you in game. Noooo! Just knock them out. They already have no chance of winning and not enough power to be kingmaker. Keeping them “in the game” is equivalent to dragging them across cement floor face first. If you have any respect for the opponent, just knock them out and let them grieve over the knock out, and don’t keep them in because you think you are being nice. I absolutely hate playing with such graceless players, and I’m sure many people do as well. Furthermore, you probably know some yourself.

What is the worst experience you have seen when a player gets knocked out of a game?

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