Classic Games

I think that it’s important to learn how to play a wide selection of ancient and classic board games, to provide an understanding of of the core concepts of game play. Chess, Go, Backgammon, Checkers, Poker, Cribbage and Bridge are all examples of such games.

The older and enduring games have survived for so long because they are good games, well expressed, easy to learn and hard to master.

You can generally pick up the rules for a classic game very quickly, but it takes months or even years to fully master it. You can find opponents for these games quickly and easily, on websites such as Yahoo Games, or at local gaming clubs.

Learning these games helps you to become a better game designer. You can appreciate the beauty of clarity and simplicity, most of these games have few different pieces, following simple rules, or they use common gaming components (a deck of cards, simple counters). This simplicity of form allows for complexity of play, which is where you want to focus your efforts as a designer.

Once you understand many classic games, you can see which of your rules will work, and which won’t. Importantly, you can learn when to follow these rules of game design, and when breaking them will provide a better gaming experience.

One concern with these classic games is that computers will be able to play them better than humans, as is already the case with Chess. I think it is a worthy effort to try to create games that have the enduring appeal of Chess, but are not as tractable to solution by a computer.

I have been lax in learning some of these classic games, and have decided to rectify matters. I’ve begun to play Cribbage, and am also going to begin playing Backgammon.


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