What are these “Micro Games” all about and my expectations?
In the board gaming world micro games are one of the hot things people are talking about. What isn’t to like about them? They are portable, inexpensive, probably easy to learn, probably easy to play and playable almost anywhere. That all sounds great to me and yet when I play a micro game…..I always feel like there just isn’t enough game for me. Maybe my expectations are too high? I have never been able to get into micro games but I also felt that I was being unfair in some subconscious manner and could never put my finger on it.
A Change of Heart?
I was listening to the Whose Turn is it Anyways podcast about Vacation Gaming and Nate shared a story about introducing Love Letter to a couple ladies playing Uno on the train. They really enjoyed the game and they even made mention of where they could find the game to purchase. Suddenly it dawned on me that micro games have a micro barrier to entry. There is nothing scary about a micro game, “5-10 minutes to play and all the components fit in one hand.” Who wouldn’t at least give that game a try? I think we all know people who are quite happy to play their Unos, hearts and Spades and leave it at that. Micro games could be the answer to give the hobby game industry more traction among the mass market crowd and as a game designer I love that idea. I think games are a good way to learn and keep the brain active in a fun way. The wealth of benefits games have to offer should overpower the skepticism the uninitiated have towards hobby games, but that is a bigger subject for another post.
The Final Push
After listening to the story of spreading hobby games to people on a train, I was able to see the possibilities of micro games, but I was not yet moved to do anything other than cheer on others who were making micro games. I then listened to a Ludology podcast and Geoff Engelstein made a great point about creativity. He made the point that restrictions on design parameters makes for increased creativity. This was the push I needed to make me want to do something with micro games. I got home that evening and I gave myself a few dice and 30 cards and I let my creativity go.
I will always prefer a fuller game over a micro game. However, seeing the ability of a micro game to expand the ideas of hobby games and the challenge of designing a game with severe restrictions makes micro games very appealing to the designer side of my brain. I think it was also mentioned on the WTIIA podcast that full games could be turned into micro games. What a great way to build bridges to the games we make, the games we love and the hobby we love so much.