Reverb Gamers: Compete or Cooperate?

Question #12: Do you prefer collaborative or competitive games? What do you think that says about you?

I'm not a competitive person. Sure, winning is nice, but it's hardly the point of a game. If it was, then we'd all play nice, easy, solo games, which we could win every time. If there are other people involved in a competitive game, you're sometimes going to lose, and if that's a problem, you shouldn't play them. So the collaborative/competitive divide isn't as stark for me as it for most people, I think.

That said, there's still a difference - collaborative games mean that I won't have to deal with people who are competitive and get grumpy when they're not winning, as many competitive folks seem to do. And this is where my normal preference comes in; RPGs tend to be collaborative, and board- and card-games tend to be competitive. I've a strong preference for RPGs over any other kind of game, so I just haven't that much exposure to the others.

Collaborative efforts result in good RPGs. This is particularly true of the newer breed of RPGs, where player input helps shape the setting and the story, and where building on what someone else has contributed makes for a better experience for everyone. While my main group has been slow to take up the notion of guiding a narrative in play, they're old hands at contributing material to the world - a number of priesthoods, an order of paladins, and more cities and kingdoms than I can track have been formed either around small details provided by players, or fully developed by them.

The simple (or, in the later stages of a campaign, not so simple) process of coming up with a plan is one of the things I really like about RPGs. It takes the Irish tendency to bluesky, the process of logic, knowledge of the campaign world, and the burst of inspiration, and blends them all together.

On the competitive side, a little internal conflict isn't a bad thing, but it has to be carefully managed. It can very quickly become the focus of the game, and therefore uninteresting for anyone who doesn't have a stake in the conflict, and it's remarkably easy for an in-game conflict between characters to wash over into being an out-of-game conflict between players.

So overall: I don't mind competitive games, but I really like collaborative ones.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 24, 2012 12:26 PM

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