Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why We Play Online

I've been playing lots of board games online recently, especially Pandemic, which has lead to thinking of the role that online play has in my personal corner of the hobby. Why do I play online?

In general, I would think that people play online versions of board games for three primary reasons: 1. ease of setup and play, 2. more available opponents, and 3. more available games. I've discussed number one at some length in my post here. Although some gamers might play online for this reason, I seldom do. My personal reasons for playing online are numbers two and three above.

Long Distance Gaming

Certainly there is something to say for getting to know new people as you play games on the Internet and the community development that can result, but generally I play with people I already know. My problem is that the majority of my friends that enjoy board games do not live locally, so by playing online I increase my gaming partners threefold.

Playing Games I Don't Own

For me, the other major draw to online play is that there are many great games on the Internet that I don't own and thus have never played. Now, I have no problem buying games without trying them first. Since I have no local game group this is the way all my board game purchases are executed. However, I can certainly imagine that I would have a much higher satisfaction rate with my purchases if I could actually play some of the games before I ordered them. This is, of course, more easily said than done since to learn a game online is a bit more difficult than learning it in person: you can't rifle through the cards and examine the game pieces as you read the rules. I've yet to learn any new games this way, but I intend to start with a couple games high on my want list: Stone Age (playable at BrettSpielWelt) and 1960: The Making of the President (on Game Table Online.) All I need to do is wade through the rules of each game, then find someone willing to take the plunge with me and play!

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