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Thinking Out Loud

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sensory Input >> The Five Senses and Gaming

[Here's the lead-in and summary for my most recent GeekList over at BoardGameGeek.com... You can read the entire GeekList, with additional content in each category, over at BGG]

Gaming is a very engaging hobby. And while it may appear to engage the mind more than the body, all five senses are tantalized with interesting stimuli. Here's a simple list of the five senses, and how gaming caters to each sense. I've listed my favorite sensory experience provided by the gaming hobby for each sense, as well as runners-up. Some are literal, others figurative, but they all fit thematically. As I compiled this list, I was pleased (and a bit surprised) how some of the senses were actually far more engaged than I had first thought.

The sense of sight
Blokus - Many games are visually appealing and engaging, so it makes sense to include Blokus and my favorite BGG photo for this list. I really enjoy games that develop more visual intricacy as the game goes on, or includes high contrast colors or interwoven patterns. Blokus certainly fits the bill.

The sense of hearing
Dice - Gaming includes a lot of wonderful sounds, if you take the time to listen. When I thought about it, I realized that (unlike sight) my favorite sounds had little to do with specific games, and more to do with game components. From my heavy background in roleplaying games (specifically D&D) and hundreds of boardgames, dice have a special place in my heart. My all-time favorite game-related sound is the clink of dice being rolled.

The sense of touch
Goa/Linen Finish - One of my favorite things about the recent influx of European games on the American market is the general increase in production quality for games. And no single component's production is such a sensory pleasure as the wonderfully textured linen finish on cards and tiles. The feel of high quality linen finish cards may seem subtle or even unimportant, until you play a game with substandard components or unfinished cards -- which now feel "dirty" in my hands.

The sense of smell
Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition - Nothing beats opening a brand new game for the first time in anticipation to rifle through components, open up sealed decks of cards from cellophane wrapping or start popping tokens and figures out of sprues. Except for New Game Smell (NGS). It's hard to describe, as NGS varies from game to game, with subtle differences, like the bouquet of a fine wine. A bit of wood pulp, a splash of injection moulded plastic, a wafting of ink. Opening up TI3 was a NGS overload -- so many components of different composition... It was the most rewarding NGS I had ever encountered.

The sense of taste
Fightball/Victory - Nothing rivals the taste of victory. Fun, participation, socialization -- ashes in my mouth compared to the sweet nectar of victory. When it happens. Which isn't often. I'm exaggerating my stance, but being on the verge of a win and tasting that success is rewarding, even if your focal point is fun and friendliness (as mine is). I chose Fightball as it's one of only two games (the other being X-Bugs) in which I know I have a very good chance of winning against anyone in my current gaming circle (currently 19-0 in Fightball and 11-1 in X-Bugs).

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What do you think? What are your favorite sensory stimuli within each category? Do certain sounds, smells or tastes make you think of gaming, even when away from the table? Which games stir all your senses for a full sensory experience?

1 Comments:

  • Sight - Beuatiful boards and bits. CC: The City, Carolus Magnus, Ys, San Marco, Wallenstein.

    Hearing - Nothing beats the sound of playing a real Go stone on a real Go board.

    Touch - Heavy wooden/stone/plastic pieces. CC: The City, Ra, Go, any Gipf game, any Block game, Maharaja.

    Smell - Agreed with your comments. Big boxes tend to have more stuff, and hence, a greater blend of smells. Medina, Rheinlander.

    Taste - On days when we game, we usually end up getting something good to eat after or during break. So I can always look forward to something yummy like pizza or Chinese food.

    By Blogger ekted, at 9:52 AM  

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