Rachel Naidich Pandemic Critical Play

I played Pandemic in class with Cynthia, Jean, and Maya. In the game, each of us had a different role and had to work together to eradicate the different viruses across the world. I was the medic, Jean was the researcher, Maya was scientist, and Cynthia was the quarantine specialist. This was my first time playing, and I didn’t fully understand the rules by the time Maya was done explaining it, but I quickly caught on to how to play as the game started. As the medic, my task was to try to eradicate an outbreak of the red virus that had spread throughout Asia. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to contain the virus, and other viruses broke out in other parts of the world. By the end of class, it seemed like we were inevitably going to lose.

Cooperative Play
I haven’t played many games that involve cooperative play, so playing Pandemic was a really unique and interesting experience for me. I’m so used to strategizing on my own in my head to beat the other players in the game, so it was fun to be able to strategize with friends to work towards a common goal instead. The only games that I have played in the past that involve cooperation with teammates that I can think of are Secret Hitler, Avalon, and Mafia. Even then, there is always at least 1 player who is the “bad guy” that the rest of the players are working against. Another similar situation is going through an escape room with teammates, but I feel like escape rooms are still a bit competitive in the sense that teams are racing to get out of the escape room as quickly as possible. In this case, all of us were playing on the same side and had the shared goal of just beating the game and not being in competition with anyone else. I felt more at ease knowing that I wasn’t competing with any of them and that we were all there to work together. The strategy and thinking process also changes when playing on a team. Rather than trash-talking the people I was playing with, our conversations were instead filled with ideas on how we should use our individual special skills to defeat the game.

On the other hand, I personally felt like the aspect of playing games that I enjoy so much was missing. Growing up, I played a lot of chess and regularly attended chess tournaments. I’m still addicted to playing chess online. I love the competition and the pleasure that comes from coming up with a superior strategy and beating someone else. I also love watching my rating climb up when I win games because it gives me a sense of accomplishment after spending lots of time studying and learning chess strategy. When playing a game like Pandemic, you lose the same feeling of accomplishment because it doesn’t feel like you have necessarily done anything spectacular or learned anything new. If I win a game of Pandemic, it is hard to know what that says about my skill or intelligence. But if I win a game of chess, I know that I was better than the person I just played, and my chess rating changes to reflect that.

Pandemic Legacy
I watched the video of Matt Leacock explaining the making of Pandemic Legacy. I thought it was super interesting to hear about why he made some of the design decisions that he did. I haven’t personally played Pandemic Legacy yet, but I felt from watching the video that I would enjoy Pandemic Legacy more than the original version. While Pandemic Legacy still does not have a competitive aspect, by adding a campaign to the game, it creates an element of discovery that the original game doesn’t have. In the same way that a campaign video game keeps bringing people back to discover more levels or more parts of a story, this version of Pandemic incentivizes people to keep coming back.

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