Critical Play: Competitive Analysis — Alex Tsai

The game I selected is capture the flag. It is an analog game played at any location with ample outdoor space. The theme of capture the flag is exercise, fellowship, and competition. There are two opposing teams, each with the goal of capturing the opposing team’s flag hidden within that team’s territory. To capture the flag, players must cross into enemy territory without getting tagged — if they get tagged, they are sent to “jail” and must be tagged by a teammate to be freed. The key aesthetic of capture the flag is fellowship, as teamwork is critical to winning the game — each team must successfully balance and execute offensive (capturing the flag) and defensive (defending the flag/tagging opposing players) play. The mechanics of the game revolve around the competition between opposing teams and the goal of capturing the opposing team’s flag — for example, mechanics include being able to tag opposing members of the team, being sent to jail if tagged, or being able to set teammates free from jail. These mechanics give rise to the fun of fellowship and physical activity. The physical activity aspect is reinforced with the tagging aspect of the game, as players must be quick and agile to sprint to enemy territory, tag others, or avoid getting tagged. noticed that when we played, there was a lot of trash talk — while the trash talk never became abusive, there were no precautions for abuse.

Compared to other games in its genre (for example, sharks and minnows, manhunt, or sardines), capture the flag is a much more flexible game with several roles on each team. Players can play both offense and defense (and switch between the two within a single game if desired), but these roles are informally defined unlike tag games with predetermined taggers or seekers.

If I could make the game better, I would set a time limit for teams preventing them from dwelling on their own safe territory. In the beginning, the game was slow because the two teams were in a standoff, each team being too afraid to run into enemy territory. To make the game more exciting right from the get-go, I would require that a certain number of players must cross into enemy territory within a certain time limit at the beginning of the game.

Ultimately, I enjoyed capture the flag because it was a fun activity that allowed me to have fun through physical activity as well as experience camaraderie with my team and competition with opposing players.

However, I was aware that capture the flag can only be played by able-bodied people, which means it is not as accessible to the entire population. I would modify the game so that people with limited physical ability can also participate, potentially as stationary defenders who can tag opposing players.

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