Critical Play: Battleship

For this critical play, I decided to play the game Battleship. The objective of the game is to launch missiles at each other’s ships until one player sinks all the ships of the other player. The catch is that we do not know where each other’s ships are placed on the coordinate plane; we only know if we hit something. Battleship uses the mechanics of tiles on a coordinate plane as well as the blind component to create a dynamic where we have to guess based on probability and space where the ships are. The type of fun that this leads to is fantasy, discovery, and fellowship as it is a multiplayer game and players simulate a battleship scenario where they have to discover uncharted territory. This type of fun is reinforced through battleship, missile, target, and explosion graphics as depicted below.

Battleship differentiates itself from other social games as it is a 2-player game and does not require constant attention. Friends are able to chat and do other things while playing the game. Moreover, there is a kind of military strategy involved as we want to place our ships strategically at the beginning of the game so it would be difficult to deduce were the ships are (usually this involves spreading the ships out and placing them closer to the edge of the board). The game could be abused if other players peek at the other players’ formation. In the online version of Battleship, this isn’t possible because the user can only see their own screen. In the physical version of Battleship, they prevent this by putting a board in front of your formation so the other player can’t see. The game does get a bit slow as it is just taking turns back and forth. I think it could be improved by allowing more player, having power-ups or special moves where you can peek at one of the ships, or limiting the missiles a player can use so the game ends faster.

I played the game myself online against a computer. A few things I noticed in the design right off the bat was that there were no live instructions that walked me through. It just assumed that I knew the game, but I would be very confused if I was a new player.

However, I did like the design in the selection process as it felt like I was targeting a missile.

Additionally, the explosion animation and background music adds a lot of life to the game especially because it uses fantasy as a channel for fun.


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