Critical Play: Competitive Analysis

My group of friends played Paranoia, a competitor game to my group’s P1. This game creates a fellowship using an intriguing dynamic of tension. There are more obvious mechanics of the game that encourage fellowship, such as brainstorming “Who’s most likely to…” prompts each round, the nature of the unconventional questions, and the lack of a competitive objective. However, one key mechanic of the game Paranoia is the coin flip that determines whether or not the question is revealed. This unpredictable mechanic creates a suspenseful dynamic throughout the game as each player may/may not get exposed for their answers each round. If the question was not revealed, there may be a certain bond between the players that now hold the secret. If the question is revealed, the entire group can get a good laugh and learn something new as the player advocates for their answer.

The mechanic of being able to brainstorm your own question also manipulates game’s dynamic. Since there are no rules to the types of questions, a player can freely choose questions that were more wholesome and uplifting. However, the unpredictability of whether or not a question is revealed is a mechanic that encourages the dynamic of riskiness, as a player typically chooses to make the questions more risque.  This particular mechanic also differentiates Paranoia from similar fellowship games, such as Truth or Dare/Who’s Most Likely To where the questions and answers are transparent to all players. Those games have a more clear objective of getting to know one another.

One thing I noticed about this game was its natural tendency to lean towards a more risque dynamic. This caused particular players to be chosen less often if they were seen to be more “innocent.” To improve this, I suggest to also encourage “Who’s least likely to…” prompts. I noticed that players never actually took offense to the prompts if they were directed at them, but more enjoyed the aspect of being exposed/chosen. Reformatting some questions would allow for the game to feel more inclusive.

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