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A solid knowledge base: Help or Hindrance?

A while back I was listening to a podcast about gaming and gamers.  The host mentioned something to the effect that it was easier for seasoned gamers to pick up new game rules because they have a solid knowledge base.  They can be told “It’s a resource management game with trading kinda like Settler’s of Catan“, and boom, they are off and running.  However, I had to ask myself, is this knowledge base a help or a hindrance?

I think we can all clearly see why such a thing would be a help, you already know detailed mechanics without being told more than a sentence or two, but how can such a thing be a hindrance? Gamers are a lazy lot, and often a conceited lot.  “Oh it’s played like ______ , I got it.  No need for me to listen closely to the rest of the rules!”  This has bit me more than once.

I won’t name names, that’s just not nice, but I was playing Memoir ’44 with a guy that I know when this bit me.  This guy, we’ll call him Tom, is a very competitive player.  Since Memoir ’44 is played on a hex board he immediately assumed that movement and shooting worked like all other hex board games he had ever played, regardless of being told to the contrary.  Tom was very upset when I landed a killing shot by doing something that was not possible by his understanding of hex board games.  It was then declared that I didn’t explain the rules properly, for that must be the reason he was doing poorly, when really he relied to heavily on his knowledge base without making adjustments for the current game.

A week or so ago I was playing Snatch (a word game about stealing words) with a new fellow.  I explained the rules to the group and we were off and running.  This new guy, Bob, was doing rather poorly and his reasoning was that he wasn’t used to needing to look at other peoples’ words (which is a big part of Snatch).  If he would have had less of a knowledge base for word games, might he have done better?

It seems that any time the phrase “It works just like/much like _______” is said during explaining rules, this problem arises for at least one gamer in the group.  Thus would we all not be better off taking a moment to be taught the mechanics in full rather than relying on our knowledge base of games?  Just something to ponder on.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 9:15 am and is filed under Random Things that Fall out of my head .
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