Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable: Dixit

For this critical play, I played Dixit, a judging game created by Jean-Louis Roubira and Marie Cardouat. The game can be played in physical board game format or with a mobile app. The target audience is quite broad, playable by groups of various familiarity and sizes, but I suppose that players should be at least 12 years old to make sure they have have enough linguistic and comprehensive skills.

The game is played by 3-6 players. The game is round-based. Each players are given 6 cards with artistic paintings at the beginning. During each round, one player plays as the story teller in turn, who selects and describes one of their card. The other players then select one of their own cards best matching the description, and all selected cards (including the storyteller’s) are gathered and shuffled. The shuffled cards are then revealed to the other players and they try to find out the storyteller’s card individually. After each players make the decision, the score for each of them is calculated. The goal of the storyteller is to make some but not all of the players find out their card, while the goal of other players is to guess the storyteller’s card correctly. The game ends when cards are used up and players are ranked by scores.

The game primarily involves the following kinds of fun: Sensory, Competition and Challenge. The beautiful graphics on the card gives great visual sensory experience. The mechanics of the game involving each players acting on their own interest and compete with each other, trying to get the most score for themselves while tricking other players. Finally, it’s a compelling challenge both to try to decipher the storyteller’s words and figuring out their chosen card (for other players) and to try tricking some but not all players (for the storyteller) into making the wrong decision.

The one thing that differentiate the game from the others in the genre is the inclusion of aesthetic and artistic elements. While most other games in the genre are based on well-know words or daily items, so that players can have a common ground, Dixit is based on beautifully drawn artworks. This is a bold move, because the interpretation and judging process are much more open ended, but the result turns out to be quite positive. The openendness adds to the game rather than creating problems, as the judging games rely on the right amount of vagueness to work. On the other hand, the added sensory stimuli clearly distinguishes the game from others, and make the game extremely attractive to certain art-inclined groups.

The game doesn’t require the player to get “consciously” vulnerable, unlike some games that require the players to explicitly reveal things about themselves. However, the game does let the players reveal themselves in certain sense, i.e. players get to know about each other’s mindset, interest and personality subconsciously while performing free associations. In fact, this reveals the identity of the players arguably even more than those Get to know you type of games which let people reveal themselves at the superficial level, and in a natural and comfortable rather than embarrassing way.

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