The value of the game and the player

This is an older post of mine that I previously made on BoardGameGeek. Reposting it here on the off-chance my account gets deleted. It could happen.

Is it equitable to state that a game would be nothing without the players, just as a player would be nothing without the games? Maybe, in a sense. And I’m not talking about a monetary sense. The $, ¥, or £ value of a game is irrelevant for the purposes of this post.

Consider the game itself. What is its value if it isn’t being played by anyone? By this I mean any and every copy of the game anywhere in the world, not just some game some collector keeps new and sealed for decorative purposes. On the one hand, it could be a game that never got officially published; or a game that never got much advertising and thus not many even knew of its existence, let alone how good or bad it is. On the other hand, perhaps it is no longer being played precisely because players know how bad the game is. Not designed well, not fun, and does nothing for those who would even consider playing it. As opposed to a game that is played often, frequently, daily, by both a dedicated fanbase and those new to it. Does the amount of playtime a game gets worldwide not determine its value? After all, a game is made to be played.

The player, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily made to play any particular game per-se. Going by the fact that the player is human, and humans can find other hobbies outside of gaming, that would tend to make their worth judged outside of the gaming community (to say the least). But this isn’t to attempt to judge humans by their worth, but players. Humans who choose to be players, to be gamers, to play games. Certainly some gaming communities have come up with ways to value them in a precise manner. How Chess and Go players can be ranked in the official Chess and Go communities. And those are hardly the only games with their own national, or even international, ranking system. But other games tend not to have such systems implemented, either because they are too new to the scene, or because they weren’t designed to be played that competitively, or they were unsuccessful at being popular enough to be considered worthy of even having a ranking system put into place. Even with all that, there’s the issue of a player who plays multiple games, some which may not have a ranking system, or even if they did, that the player’s rank isn’t consistent across several games (ie he’s not as good at one game compared to the other).

You might notice that it’s not exactly the games ever judging the value of the players themselves. Well, there are some games that can be played solo which may also have a scoring system where one can have a high score that they try to best, much like some arcade games. But even then, bragging to an inanimate object would make others question your sanity (but in all fairness, one may play solo to find the value in himself, whether it’s for his own sake, or to stack himself with the value of others who play similar solo games). It’s the players who value other players, and the players who value the games. Because games are designed by players (one would hope) for players. Take the player out of the equation, there’s no value to be had. Therefore a game would be nothing without the players. On the other hand, there must be a game in order for there to be a player. Therefore a player cannot exist without a game to play. But a player’s existence isn’t dependent on just any one game, while a game’s existence is dependent on having at least one player to play it. Players are more adaptable and resilient than any game.

The game itself, in my opinion, exists not to be valued by other players so much as to show the value of the player to other players. Because the games a person plays, and how they play them, show others what kind of a player this is, and how he should be valued. The types of games the player plays can determine how much other players will value that player depending on whether they have the same tastes in games or not. If a player dedicates himself more to one game, then his value could be determined either by a ranking system if he plays in a community with an established and frequently updated ranking system; or by the small community he plays with if no such ranking system exists. Either way, it’s not always about the fact that the player plays the game itself, but in how he plays it. From being civil and polite, to the speed and skill of play. Depending on the community, the players may value the former over the latter, or vice versa. It also depends on if that community is a hardcore gaming community, or a more casual community.

The game is a medium for others to interact with each other. Gaming is a method whose value varies from player to player, designed for players to determine the value of each other. A method to forge new bonds, strengthen existing bonds, or possibly even break them (like how Diplomacy breaks friendships and marriages). A method of seeing people for what they are under that type of social interaction. The ugliness and the beauty can be revealed not just in the game, but in the player. Which can cause players to attempt to improve themselves or their game choices (or both). And all players will be able to see it.

Though that being said, the types of games a player plays should also give other players an idea in how to value that player. A similar taste in games helps to form bonds.

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