Critical Play: Competitive Analysis

Our team decided to play a game of pong for my critical play analysis. The rules and set up of pong are pretty simple. Each team needs 10 cups arranged in a pyramid at 2 ends of an elevated surface (typically a table). The mechanics of the game involve 2 teams of 2 taking turns throwing ping pong balls into the opposing teams cups. Each member of one team will shoot the ball and then it is the opposing teams turn to shoot. Playing pong this time around, I realized that the mechanic of teams of 2 is core to the game. The rule of having 2 members on one team creates a dynamic of banter and reliance on your teammate. This in turn creates an aesthetic of fellowship with your partner. I had some assumption before that a connection forms with trying to beat the opposing team. But, from playing with my partner (someone in my P1 group that I did not know before this class) I realized that pong is as much of a competition as it is a fellowship with your partner. I got to see them in a different setting than class and work and it was because of our mutual interest in winning that pong game. There is another rule that if both members of a team make it into the opposing teams cups, they get the balls back and get another try at shooting. This mechanic adds to the dynamic of reliance on one’s partner. We became invested in each others shots, encouraging and supporting each other to make the cups. This added to the fellowship aesthetic. Overall the mechanic of 2 versus 2 creates a dynamic of rivalry which then in turn also creates an aesthetic of competition. 

With this fellowship revelation between partners, I realize that for our P1, we should add rules or cards that encourage this aesthetic. For example, challenges that make you interact with your partner more or create more intimacy with your partner. Before, our only thought was challenges to get to know the people across the table from you but now I realize we should do that along with prompts that allow you to get to know your partner.

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