Gaming and the search for perfect information

Lately, I’ve gotten into the concept of gaming. In this case, I don’t mean playing video games (although you wouldn’t know it by my World of Warcraft account…). I mean, video games are fun and all, but I don’t find them appealing mainly because I’ve lost the social aspect of it. Despite being an MMORPG, I so rarely interact with others in the game that i’s become a moot point. I quest by myself, I level up by myself. I occasionally run dungeons with others, but so rarely and the dungeons don’t encourage much downtime for socialization.

No. Not video games…but board games. I’m kind of glad I added GAMERT as one of my round tables for ALA. I’m curious to see what other games librarians like to play. So far, I’ve played the following games:

  • Lost Cities
  • Ascension
  • Citadels
  • Hive
  • Carcasonne

Of all these games, I wasn’t a fan of Citadels. Although it was playable with two people, it was too easy to figure out what cards the other player had chosen and then choose the proper response. I grew so frustrated with it, I had to stop playing!

My favorite has to be Lost Cities! Simple, easy to play, quick and has really high replay value. Right now, I’m playing Carcasonne and it’s pretty fun. Especially since I can play it on my iPad/iPhone! Fun times!

As much as this post is about gaming, it’s also about the idea of perfect information. To me, perfect information is knowing what your opponent has to play, what their strategy could be, and anything that can affect how you play and your likelihood of winning.

In (two player) Citadels, the players have nearly perfect information about their opponents. This makes it so frustrating, especially when the game isn’t collaborative. In a game that’s mainly random and luck based, there is little that having perfect information affects. For example, when I look at Lost Cities, I don’t think knowing what your opponent is trying to do will necessary affect your decision – this could be a result of the fact that interaction between players is at a minimum.

I guess, really, this is where the divergence between the need for perfect information and it’s irrelevance occurs: when the game is collaborative, or one in which interaction between players is kept to a minimum, then perfect information doesn’t change decisions or play style. However, when competition is an inherent part of a game, having perfect information plays a more important role.

I’m more a fan of collaborative games, or luck based games. I guess that means I’m a fan of perfect information? Ha! What a weird, logical leap that is…