Tuesday, December 15, 2015

No, I don't hoard things. Why do you ask?

My wife loves Mario Kart 8.

Hmm.... Maybe "love" is not a strong enough word; more like "addicted to Mario Kart 8".

Some people, when they get off work, will come home and have a drink. Others will turn on the news. Still others will watch a game*, catch up on social media, or curl up in a corner and take a nap.

My wife comes home and plays Mario Kart for stress relief.

This is actually fairly close to the setup that I use when
playing as Rosalina. From gameasylum.com.


I now have a hard time remembering when she hadn't played Mario Kart online, and when I was ever concerned about how well she'd handle it. Those days are long past; she now has gotten to the point that she recognizes different online players by their names, and surely with a name like "Mom" she's recognizable too.

Due to her love of Mario Kart, I've often wondered whether she'd go for any other online games --yes, MMOs too-- but I'm realistic in that Mario Kart is pretty easy to handle. I think that some games, such as the LEGO games, she'd find interesting, but I've yet to discover a video game she loves as much as Mario Kart.

The reason why I bring this up is because I've been tossing around this idea in my head about gamers, and whether they fall into one of two major groups: those who tend to play a few games all the time, and those who like to try out lots of different games. The border area between the two groups is a bit hazy, but the overall grouping is what I'm looking at. I'll break the two groups down, so you get a feel for where I'm coming from.

***

The Tried and True

When I think of the gamer who sticks to a few games, I think of my dad. Okay, he's not a gamer, but if you get him interested in playing something, he'll pull out the chessboard.

And that's pretty much it.

We've tried to interest him in different games, even simpler strategy games than chess,** but he always returns to the chessboard.

Play chess in the morning, defeat an alien invasion force
in the evening. From the movie Independence Day.


My wife is cut from a similar mold: she plays Mario Kart 8, she plays Settlers of Catan and a few other board games, and that's about it. We get new games every so often, but the learning process with her can be pretty painful; she frequently gets frustrated by my and our friends' explanations on how to play a new game, and she'll just say "let's just play it and we'll figure it out!" And you can imagine just how THAT ends up...

The youngest mini-Red seems to have a knack to explain new games to her mom, but even then my wife prefers to stick to a few regular games without much deviation.

***

On the other side of the aisle are those that play a lot of different games.

Like the mini-Reds.

They play a lot --and I do mean a lot-- of games. While they don't have the money or resources to amass thousands of games like some collectors do***, they do play a lot of a different variety of games. From Star Wars d20 to Pathfinder to Savage Worlds to Magic: The Gathering to LEGO The Hobbit to LOTRO to Hyrule Warriors, they do get around.

There, but for the love of God (and a lack of money), go I.
From a pic of Game Haus Cafe.


They've got a bit of me in them, as I would prefer to try a lot more games than I currently can play. I do have a few stalwarts, but if I'd my choice I'd like to play more games out of my collection.

But a multi-thousand collector of games? No, not me. I may collect games, but not anything close to that many. I'll occasionally get a "we should prune these games" request from my wife, but once I move some titles around to make them fit.... Well... It works out.

***

If there's one true weakness I have, it's for a well written splatbook.

What's a splatbook? It's an RPG book that's not really part of the core ruleset. You'll find them as extras or additions to the current rules, setting books, or extra gear/equipment/races/vehicles/mounts for a game.

For the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars ruleset. Rules, gear,
specializations, and starships for those who want to channel
their inner Han Solo.  From fantasyflightgames.com.

Remember Baldur's Gate? Yep, the Sword Coast
of the Forgotten Realms lives on in D&D 5th Edition.
From enworld.org.


Some are even books about how to play a particular RPG, basically taking the core rules and breaking them down into bite sized chunks.

Yes, Pathfinder has so many splatbooks that they created
one so that you can figure out how to play the character
you want to play.  From paizo.com.

I've been known to collect adventure modules, which are premade adventures that you can either run as-is or drop into an ongoing campaign. For the GM who is busy in real life, modules are a godsend.

Ah, my old friend. In my first time playing this module, our
party died due to a massive avalanche. Really brilliant, I know. From Wikipedia.

Still, my love of splatbooks probably stems from my love of add-ons to SF&F series/universes. Items such as the Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad, or the Star Trek Technical Manual (original series) brought these settings to life in a way that I hadn't considered before. You can find manuals on how to speak Quenya or Sindarin (two Elvish languages that Tolkien invented for Middle-earth), a "Haynes Guide" to the Millenium Falcon, or an Atlas of Pern.

This was what my copy looked like.
From memory-beta.wikia.com.


A lot of these books grew out of fans' desire for them, and publishers and other assorted third parties were more than happy to satisfy the demand. Today, this sort of book seems quaint, but I still love it.

***

Still, I find that I do have some things in common with my brethren who love to play only a few games. We both play games, and we enjoy what we're doing. I may never quite understand why they need to stick with only a few games year in and year out, but I can appreciate the fact that they do love playing games.

Even if it means I know that a blue shell is headed in my direction.





*Particularly during college basketball season; there's always a game on that's interesting.

**We've tried Risk, Rail Baron, Facts in Five, Waterworks, etc. but to no avail. And no, I'm not trying Diplomacy on him; I would kind of like to remain on speaking terms with him.

***Don't believe me? Check out some of the comments on this list from BoardGameGeek.

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