Yesterday, a couple of my friends and me gathered around a table to spend some quality time together. Wood in the fireplace was burning, thus creating a cozy atmosphere. On the table were drinks, food, armies, battleships and a map of Europe in 1914. The back rooms were set, the papers prepared and so we started to-rewrite history. Or maybe not.
We played a game of ‘diplomacy’. It is a board game with the setting of 1914 where you command fleets and armies in order to conquer regions with industrial complexes. The rules are not that difficult but the tricky part is the negotiations with the others. You have 15 minutes before each turn to come up with treaties, negotiate or betray your enemies and allies. Whatever you say is of course not binding but me being a social constructivist, it all comes back to you at one time or the other. But without treaties to be broken it is hard to move forward. For certain situations you also need real allies.
Why am I mentioning this. The whole evening I was comparing the game to computer games. Of course it is much easier to create much complexer games on the computer because of all the opportunities that arise from computing power and virtualization. Anyway, I was thinking that despite computer games being much more complex and the ability to join the same game with a lot of people and also negotiate there and so on, it does not match the feeling you get playing a board game with a group of friends in reality. It feels so … real? All the negotiations going on, watching who is talking to whom, imagining what their plans are and trying to intervene. A lot of fun actually.
I was also thinking that it would be a great thing to do with my students. In the last part of the semester, after a course on strategy by Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Machiavelli etc. to play a few rounds of diplomacy to give them the real experience – even though it is still a game.
I was first playing with consoles and computers when I was at the age of 8, thanks to my bro. But I never missed to go out on the streets to play football or do other things away from the keyboard. For parents it might be easier just to put a computer in place and then let the child play but I think the real experience is only the real experience.
And now, go out and do something real!