Favorite game and analysis

My favorite board game is Othello, it’s a one on one game where you play as either white or black chips. The game is usually played on a green pool-like fabric on top of a plastic case that holds the game area as well as the chips which can be stacked on each of the players sides.

Othello board game.

You are allowed to place one chip at the time on the board. By placing your chip either in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line around your opponents chips you can convert them into your color by flipping them. You are only allowed to place a chip where there is none placed already, also the chip has to flip an opponents chip or the move is invalid.

Player “Black” flips player “White” through a vertical surrounding of the white chip.

What I like about this game is that it requires strategy but it’s easy to learn and takes time to master. The colors remind me of chess and in a way the game itself reminds me of chess. Mostly notably because it’s turn-based, share similar colors and is strategy heavy. By observing similarities in these games I can see that they share several key components. Strategy and turn-based one on one play scenario to name two. I would consider these key components as they engage the players throughout the game until the end where only one player can stand victorious unless it’s a tie. The objective of Othello is to have the most chips in your colors left when the board is full. I argue that this effects the tone in the game as players tend to socialize when playing Othello but rarely so when it comes to chess as an example (Fullerton 2014). A rather finishing moment when I played Othello the first time was when I realized my opponent had more chips in the corners than me and I could figure out that I was going to lose. I still had at least 5–8 turns left but I could see that there was nothing I could do to win. However, I kept on playing until the game had finished, I guess it’s a social norm to finish what you start, even if it’s a casual game.

By applying the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics framework (MDA) on Othello I find that their formal approach to game design (Hunicke, LeBlanc & Zubek 2004) in Aesthetics component leans heavy on the Challenge and Fellowship. The challenge lies in beating your opponent in a one on one scenario while the fellowship can be dominant through Othello originally being a physical board game thus being able to interact socially with your opponent while playing. Obviously this might not be the case if it’s a grand final with money or an award to be gained. Further if the player doesn’t see herself winning, which can be possible in Othello as one player gains more chips in the corners than the other, the game is suddenly a lot less interesting (ibid.).

You gain skill over time by playing a lot and facing new players. In example Othello is freely available online where you can practice against a computer. People want to play a game in order to master it and get better at it (Niedenthal 2016). Whenever I play Othello I feel like you can further your skills by thinking more plays ahead than your opponent. But I rarely play it often enough to feel that it benefits me the next time I play it.

References

Fullerton, T., 2014. Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games. 3rd ed., Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M. and Zubek, R., 2004, July. MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI (Vol. 4).

Niedenthal, S. 2016., Aesthetic and dramatic elements of games. Lecture notes in Game Design at Malmö University, Sweden, 29 January 2016.

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