Monday, August 29, 2011

On Modern Day Games

You see them advertised and they almost seem like a desperate attempt by companies like Parker Bros and Hasbro to recreate an era gone by: that of the family game night and the board game.

In some ways, they have returned. Note the popularity of Games with Friends on iPhone - but many of the games espoused are games that SHOULD rightfully still be popular because they are unpredictable.

While everyone who has ever played Monopoly always has a favorite game piece and property, the way the game unfolds is almost always a game of chance. Like playing with a deck of cards, each game is unique.

Come forward (or back) to the 80s' and the introduction of Trivial Pursuit. While there are some diehards who would play TP using the board and the little pies, the game evolved into more of a "pull out a card and let's see what you know" type of game.

Moving further into the 90s, and you see more of these games. SongBurst (one of my favorites) tests your music ability based on songs from a particular era (50s - 80s - note this was BEFORE the Singing Bee TV show)

The thing most of these games suffer from is "age". Not just the age of the players but rather when they came out. Playing a game of Trivial Pursuit Family Edition requires that the "kids" group be in their 30s now. A question like "how many planets are there" suffers from days gone by.

Heck, going back in time, my parents had a game of Shakespeare where you had to complete the sonnets (try playing that with the kids today).

Think of the fad a while back: the Murder Mystery sold in a box. You could only ever play the game once - after that, it was spoiled.

Some games have tried to recapture the glory of the game of chance but with some silliness: Pictionary, Cranium (which combined a bunch of games including Charades). One particular favorite is Scattergories - where you write down words based on a category. If the categories don't really fit or you're tired of the same basic answers, why not create your own? It's a game designed to be "improvised"

This takes me to my main post. Many games these days have become computerized, offering DVDs of data or the like. So they all use some kind of storage device for their questions and answers. So my question is: are they using storage devices from the 80s?

Our daughter bought the game CatchPhrase, where you try to get the other player to say the word or phrase without saying it. Sounds like a classic game, right? And now that it's computerized, you know you aren't going to get the same questions repeated regularly. Heck, Trivial Pursuit would give you 1000 cards with 8 questions each and only if you played it every night for a year would you begin to remember them (and you know who they are, if you have ever played with them).

Even with a 1GB memory stick and averaging a phrase with 100 letters in it, you should easily have over 10,000,000 phrases - while you may get a few repeats, simply because of random polling, it's highly unlikely you would get the same set of questions in one sitting.

CatchPhrase has approximately 11 categories and phrases Everything from words like "Spill the beans" and "hot potato" to "Dick Cheney", "Weapons of mass destruction" ,"Hannah Montana" and "Top Chef". Yet, in the two times I've played the Food category, 90% of the phrases are the same. So maybe it's just Food, right? Nope - same thing with Everything. They say it contains 10,000 words. That means 910 words per category. So it doesn't really matter if they have a 1000 new words for the current generation.

You'll run out sooner or later.

Is a 1GB stick really that hard to put into a game like this?

Better yet, can't they put a Wifi card in them and get updates online?


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