By “organized games,” I mean boardgames, card games, video games, most computer games, things like that. It is the same reason as why I am just terrible at remembering/enjoying simple jokes: my situational lack of whimsy. I maintain that I am very whimsical in certain ways, as well you all know, but in others, logic and a need to make things make sense and make things well-developed ruins all hopes.
One side-effect of this is the fact that I honestly spend more time while playing games organizing materials than strategizing. Some people take five minutes just to pick which move to make and then another five minutes are spent making it; I’m more interested in when it’s not my turn. When I’m not expected to be paying attention, I can be sorting all of my cards or papers parallel and by a given system (order acquired, numerical order, usually ascending, financial value color-coding; this is true of cards acquired in games like Citadels, where the cards represent “districts” you’ve built, and I’m busy sorting them in order of cost to build each district, then by color within that. It’s also true of things like Life or Monopoly, where my money always has to be in perfect numerical order) and that’s just infinitely more fun to me.
I once participated, years ago, in a marathon two-day game of Risk. Rather, the game was held at my house, so despite being eliminated on Day One, I still had to be present. No mind, though: I spent Day Two taking all of the unused army pieces and arranging them in various usually symmetrical patterns and then photographing them. Army configurations and just pretty designs alike, I actually had more fun doing that than I did playing the game.
When it comes to games like Life, I’m the world’s biggest weirdo. I attribute it to being a writer, but it could just be being neurotic. I’m not content just with the brick wall vague descriptions of things on the board: GRADUATION and GET A JOB and GET MARRIED and BUY A HOUSE and BABY BOY/GIRL/TWINS. No, I have to figure out what everyone majored in (it’s funny to see who chooses their actual major and who chooses one based in fantasy) and exactly what job they got (if they’re the teacher, what do they teach? If they’re the Superstar, what’s their field: acting, singing, filmmaking, what?) and exactly who they marry (I will confess to a round of Life I once played wherein little pink plastic me happily married little blue plastic Rupert Giles, and I apologize for nothing) and exactly, exactly what the house is like (Colonial or Farmhouse are such vague terms) and exactly what boy/girl/twins you birth (in that same game where I married Giles, my friend’s twins were Lothario, Jonathan B. Wright’s character from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Willow Rosenberg-in-canon). I like inventing made-up lives more than I like the strategy aspect.
And don’t even get me started on computer games. I never played any of the ones that involve shooting or mayhem: I played things like The American Girl Premiere, where you could make computer plays starring humanized American Girl dolls and their friends. I think you were supposed to act out scenes from the books, but I choreographed dance numbers and made people walk through floors. When I got a little older, I was casting the American Girls into plays and movies I liked: a friend and I, when we were much too old to be playing the game seriously, once staged the first third, I’d venture, of Rocky Horror with Molly McIntyre and co. (Molly herself played Columbia, as the girls themselves were the only ones with multiple costumes and Molly had both a tap-dancing outfit and pajamas.)
I played things like Roller Coaster Tycoon, which is a much more grown-up sort of game. Except for I’d play it by inventing some ridiculous theme (usually a cartoon I’d enjoyed in childhood; the Care Bears, Hello Kitty, Rainbow Brite, and Sailor Moon all got parks) and decorating and color-coding the entire park around it. I’d build tame rides myself, but I was always more interested in building scenery. For that Rainbow Brite park, I actually built Rainbow’s entire castle out of the little walls and towers you could use. It wasn’t even a ride, it just sat there. I’d make my dad build my “serious” coasters for me.
I played things like The Sims, where my sole goal was to create a house (in Sims 1) or a neighborhood (in Sims 2) and populate it with the characters from my favorite, again, plays or films. By Sims 2 I had entire neighborhoods full of the characters from The Phantom of the Opera and Rent (including the never-seen parents of every character, the siblings of every character, and the full families of only-mentioned characters like April; she had five sisters, if I remember correctly). I’d design them to look as much like the characters as they could and I’d build them houses decorated exorbitantly to suit their characters’ tastes (I believe this would be defined as my own messed up “headcanon”) and I’d make the characters that were supposed to be in love with each other meet like… once. Then I’d get bored just clicking “talk” and “wave” and “dance” and “laugh” over and over and go back to building more neighborhoods.
Video games are another thing entirely. Being an only child who was never predisposed to driving computer-generated cars or shooting computer-generated anythings, I didn’t play video games growing up. I first played, like, Crash Bandicoot Racing at someone’s house when I was maybe eleven, and I absolutely sucked at it. I played Mario Kart and Mario Party and things like that with friends as I got a little older, and I still sucked. I just have a hard time focusing enough on the controls to learn them when I’m busy going “wouldn’t that car just run over that banana peel?” or “we’re driving in space, why doesn’t our car have a roof?” This is not to say I didn’t enjoy Mario or Crash; I did, as much as I could. I just never played enough to be good at it, or to get over things that made no sense. I certainly prefer them to games like Halo, where it’s just too chaotic and I don’t understand why you shoot someone just for being affiliated with a different primary color, especially while running around space-age Stonehenge. (Also, shooting games throw me even worse than driving games do.) There was one game I played in high school, one where you’re in a Western town and you shoot bunnies with plungers, and I don’t remember what it was called, but, despite sucking at it, I somewhat enjoyed myself with that, too. That one was absurd enough that I actually had an easier time letting go of things that made sense and just going with it.
I have too many thoughts.
–your fangirl heroine.