Final Class Reflection — Blake Sharp


This class intellectualized play and games for me. I was not the biggest proponent of games as a social or leisure activity, and the majority of my experience of games came through competitive sports. Since I grew up playing competitive sports and played in college, games used to be very black and white. There were winners and losers, and losses to me hurt more than winning felt good. This aversion to loss affected how I would play games in leisure settings. My hyper-competitiveness drove me crazy in games as menial as rock paper scissors or family game night. Some friends didn’t play board or recreational games with me because I could be so intolerable. 


Since the pandemic hit, life slowed down for me and my competitive nature began to erode. I learned how to enjoy card games without feeling hurt when I would lose. I got into crossword puzzles and started to enjoy playing casual tennis. I also had many conversations with my brother, because he loves game and game design. My friends eased me into recreational games like Codenames or Secret Hitler. My favorite kinds of games are still physical ones, but I can wholeheartedly say that I now enjoy playing games even when I don’t win.


I wanted to take this class to better understand the nuances and differences to why people continue to play games time and time again. The class concept of different kinds of fun will stick with me for a while. In all contexts, people need different things at different times. The types of fun are an interesting categorization of games for different needs. I didn’t understand how my friends could play candy crush for hours and hours. However, the game as a form of escapism makes a lot of sense to me and lets me understand their motive much better. Additionally, the intellectualization of game mechanics also helped me understand which kinds of games I enjoy playing. First of all, I love games with a social and / or physical component. I enjoy seeing and learning how my peers play, and I love being able to use my body to play. Revealing the “bones” of game design also helped me realize why I like the only TV show that I watch: Survivor. Survivor is a mix between physical challenges, social gameplay, and puzzle solving. I now watch every episode very differently and with a more critical eye. This lens has also illuminated to me how recycled so many of the games and challenges on Survivor are, and despite that, I continue to watch episode after episode and season after season.


In the future, I will continue to play games with a more critical eye and think further about why we find which games for which reasons. I am looking foward to being able to better understand why humans have bee and will continue to gravitate towards games. If I were to keep working on my game, I would want to create a more robust digital component. I feel like I was able to spend a lot of time over the quarter and in this last project practicing analog games. I think it is really interesting to see how this can translate to digital spaces. I am grateful for this experience and exposure to an academic facet of everyday life.

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