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Nice salute to Freecell over at the Escapist. I don’t agree with everything Marty says here (especially regarding randomness and fairness) but overall quite a good article. Here’s a taste:

The trouble is most “real” computer games are dolled-up doxies that deflect attention from their real attributes (by which I mean gameplay) through alluring distractions: graphics, music and sound, story, artificial reward structures, etc. FreeCell, like many casual and independent games, is au naturel and unadorned. It rises or falls on its design, not on its packaging.


  1. Bob wrote:

    Not bad, but am I wrong in my believe that this kind of game actually represents a much smaller segment of the population than the ubiquity of playing card culture would seemingly advocate? There’s interesting lessons to be learned on the level of pure, unadorned activity, certainly, but then the same thing can be said of paying taxes. At its best, I felt a kind of benevolent bureaucratic authority guiding this game, a kind of invisible hand of the gaming space to cut through red tape as much as red suits. To me, it feels like game designers aren’t the ones who need to learn from this game, but the guys who write tax forms over at the IRS.

    Monday, August 27, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  2. frank wrote:

    Bob, I think I speak for everyone when I say: Huh?

    Monday, August 27, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Charles wrote:

    Bob’s got a point. I’ve often thought that it’s more than a coincidence that my friend Melissa’s favorite games are the ones like Freecell or Spider Solitaire. These are games that involve taking a random shuffling of things that must then be put into order as efficiently as possible, which because she works as a personal assistant is basically what Melissa does all day anyway. I think what Bob is saying is that these games tweak those parts of our brains that we use to navigate bureaucracies, to order our (or other’s) lives. In the same way that an FPS massages those parts that desire domination and aggression over our friends. Of course, Bob being Bob, he couldn’t just say that.

    Monday, August 27, 2007 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

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