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To the editor: Allen Varney, as usual, makes a fine job of a hot topic in "Trading Web Cards."
But on one point I feel he (probably inadvertently) paints a distorted picture. Wizards of the Coast's Magic the Gathering Online game may be seen by a few grumpy tournament players as riddled with bugs, bribery and lag but for the vast majority of players these are seldom-important details of a very playable game.
In particular, MtGO is actually superior to its paper counterparts in two key respects:
1) It actually enforces the game rules. (Except in high level tournaments, most games of Magic involve rules errors unnoticed by all players.)
2) You can actually find opponents at any time of day or night.
In response to "'Fun' is a Four-Letter Word" from The Escapist Forum: Someone watching a movie has to actively take an action to stop the film. The film has to be so disturbing, challenging or boring that the viewer decides to switch the player off and do something else instead.
A game, on the other hand, requires the player to actively interact with it. It just has to be disturbing or challenging enough to make the player sit back and it's lost them. That's a lot less leeway than films have. Still - it's no reason not to try striking that tricky balance.
I heartily agree that games should engage people on a more mature level, but they still have to keep the players interacting or they become nothing more than a movie themselves.
In response to "'Fun' is a Four-Letter Word" from The Escapist Forum: The point that "fun" is subjective is the linchpin of the whole debate. While some games will be "fun" for some, they're a chore for others. Because of this, you can say that a single title is BOTH fun and not fun. In this situation, you can't claim victory for either point.
I think that gregking's point of likening moves to games is true at a base level, but in the end, we watch movies and play games for the same reason. HOW we perform each of these actions is inconsequential, since, at the point where we feel that we aren't "getting our money's worth" from either medium, we quit. If a game isn't interesting me for whatever reason, I stop playing. If a movie or TV show isn't interesting me, I'll get up, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, or just stop watching.
To that end, I suggest that rather then focus on the term "fun" we use "engaging". "Engaging" is a term that means different things to different people based on what they expect to take away from an event. You can be engaged by a movie, a game, a lecture, a book, a work of art, a conversation, music, sports, or simply by relaxing on the couch. If we can get people to think about being "engaged" by the games that they play, then we can put the products of the industry on a more equal footing, perception-wise, with movies, music and literature.