Board Games Personal

A Cooperative Game

It seems that in times where we are most vulnerable that we retreat to what we know. Yet, we are in a time where many tabletop gamers cannot escape to the comfort of friends, cards, and cardboard. Cooperation is exuding through every platform and outlet with the advent of COVID-19. We are in a time of crisis, that is for sure, but we are also in a time of great cooperation.

One of board gaming’s most popular cooperative and gateway games is Pandemic by Matt Leacock. In this game, you work as scientists with your friends to find cures to four different diseases ravaging the world. More seasoned gamers tend to point out problems in the game’s design, like how sometimes the players cannot do anything to halt the spread of the virus and the ability for one player to influence everyone else’s decision.

There are times in Pandemic where players cannot halt the spread of the virus. Outbreaks occur in sequence, and there is nothing to do, but watch as little blue cubes flood the map. Not having control is frustrating for a lot of people. The game’s ability to knock you out if you aren’t careful is also why cooperative games are compelling. There is a chance that the game will come swinging back at you and knock you out. The victories do not feel farcical. They feel earned.

There are also times where one player can influence the decisions of other players. More decisive people tend to give unsolicited advice on where to go or what to do. None of this is malicious, but it creates a scenario where the other players are playing by proxy.

Social distancing and other policies aren’t fun. It feels that other players are making decisions for us, and we can start to feel helpless about the outcome. However, we can still stay enthusiastic about the game and the role we are playing. We don’t have much control over where COVID-19 spreads, but we do have control over to whom we expose ourselves. All of our actions are equally important. There is no guarantee we will get the result that we desire, but by working together, we will win the game.

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