I was recently browsing Pocket when an article caught my eye. The title "All Work and No Play" grabbed my attention. The article mashes two perspectives together. The first is about plight of game designers who are working untold hours for low pay and no job security, and the games that these developers are creating. The second is about the types of games they're producing. The more interesting perspective for me is about the games that are produced, though this is not to say that the low pay / long hours of the developers is any less important.
The article is a review of the book Press Reset which deals with the stories and situations of various video game developers and the studios that have collapsed around them. The article posits that much of the games of the 21st century are reflections of those who have created them, and the games that they're creating feel like extensions of 21st century work. This is interesting because I've felt that many of the games (video games, board games, etc.) hew close to the tasks of work. Worker placement games have a feeling of managing little meeples and directing them to be in the right place and the right time in order to get scant resources for creating an economic engine. We've turned our play into an extension of work. The rewards are victory points, or score or some other trifle. Many games have an in-game currency where you can purchase different items to customize your experience so you can perform better in the game or add a minimum of personalization to your character.
This line of inquiry into games and game design makes me think about the games that we've had over the past two decades. It's also giving me another perspective on why I've bounced off of many of the newer board games and haven't taken to a whole lot of video games as of late: they just feel like more work.
Definitely some areas to think about. More to come.