This is a concept that’s come up in many conversations with Michael G., so it’s worth writing it down. Many board games unfold over the course of hours.During the course of play, multiple people make many small and large decisions. Many little tiny pieces are placed on the board. Hundreds (if not thousands) of little adjustments are made to the play area. Items are gained and lost. Properties are built. Money and valuables change hands. Swaths of land and territory shift.
You play a game and you don’t even realize that this is happening because you’re wrapped up in it. But at the end of the game, after all the points are tallied up, you scoot back your chair, stretch and walk around and say goodbye to your guests. You might even go to bed without cleaning up.
When you see the game again, splayed out on your kitchen table, it looks so familiar. But so different.
If you look back over all of the pieces, their positions on the board show evidence that tells a story. Thousands of little decisions; thousands of accretions of strategy. It’s what I like to call a meaningful sedimentation of play. Just like geological layers tell a story of the earth’s history, all the combinations of pieces left on the board tell the story of a game played over time.
Scrabble is a good example that Michael likes to reference. After you play you can look back over the pieces and they tell a story. You can even follow the succession from one word placed down to the next.
Some games lend themselves to this more than others. I actually like to leave some games out on the coffee table after playing them, because they look like little art pieces that the players have made with a thousand touches.