Sunday afternoons I normally find my self at Paul and Mandy's house. They're a wonderful couple with a wonderful family - gracious and hospitable. The time is often spent playing games of various types - word, card, personality, trivia, etc. We've played Moods, Wizard, Pit, Title Recall, Shout it Out and more, enjoying ourselves the whole time. Its not uncommon for the house to have eight or more people there, visiting, and enjoying each other's company.
Much to their credit, as well as the folks who come, its often laid back and everyone is a good sport about winning, losing, and generally just playing.
But one thing I was wondering, however, is "are there many cooperative games?" As is, the games we play are typically competitive in nature. The rules set up a system for that competition that everyone has to abide by and goes from there. There is really only one winner, be it an individual or a particular team. Now, that is good, and enjoyable, but "in the real world" there is the possibility for win/win and lose/lose situations. Outcomes where everyone can benefit or everyone loses out.
Now then, how do you replicate this?
Right now I'm planning on checking out Forbidden Island and Pandemic. Both are supposed to be cooperative games where players either win together or lose together. I think my gaming groups would like them, but more than that I'd like to see if I can learn from them. Adversary-based competition is so prevalent in gaming because I believe its likely easier to design for and because its easier for us to relate to and work with. We see it in sports, our entertainment, and cynical jokes about how business works.
But, as I've been listening and reading to various people, its clear that in order to prosper you need to be able to create win/win situations. Where you and those you partner with in business both win. You and your customers need to both win in your deals and transactions. You and your employer or employees need to be win/win in your relationship in order for it to be mutually beneficial.
Its a bit easier to find cooperative video games, but I think that there's a cost of accessibility. A lot of online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or City of Heroes are cooperative, but not everyone likes them and given each person needs their own computer, account, etc., its going to be cost prohibitive. There's an increasing number of console games with cooperative elements, but they're often shooters of some sort with violent game play. Likewise, there's a certain amount of time that needs to be invested to learn the game from a physical standpoint (controls, hand-eye coordination, etc) that detracts from their usability.
There are traditional role-playing games, but regardless of genre they're not going to appeal to everyone. Likewise, not only would someone have to take up the game master/referee's position, there's not an insignificant amount of work involved in running a game. A game master has to be the arbiter of the rules, be fair and consistent, and be a good story teller! Its not easy, plus that person doesn't actually get to play along with the other people.
Hence, I'm curious about the idea of games that are cooperative but are accessible and do not require someone to sit out in order to make the game happen.
Its been something to think about, that's for sure!