Doing a Google search on critical thinking I found something rather amusing in the suggested questions in my mobile device. One of the drop down menus said “what are the seven critical thinking skills?” ~ The list provided was observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving, and decision-making.
I don’t know about you, but I counted nine. So much for critical thinking. Or maybe that was just a test to see if I could apply those skills to notice the discrepancy.
For a long time I have enjoyed taking Games apart. I like to see what makes them tick. I like to see how they work, what the mechanics actually do. I like to do this from a mathematical standpoint, but also in terms of how they interface with the fiction. What does it feel like when the mechanics are invoked? Is it easy to narrate from? What do they actually tell is happening in the game world? How much of a disconnect is there from an immersive experience when they are used? Does practice alleviate this?
I have also really come to enjoy looking at a new game and seeing what it is all about. But for me part of the enjoyment is not taking everything at face value. I like to apply some critical analysis to what I am seeing. What is the premise? What is the game supposed to do? What is it supposed to be about? Does it actually do that?
Part of this analysis is to actually play the game and then talk about the experience with the other players. What actually happened? How did it feel? Do we know why that happened? Were we playing the game correctly? Did the game feel natural or did it push us out of our comfort zone? Is there something we need to do differently? Does the game have problems? Is it confusing in actual play? ~ On the surface this sounds like it would be overthinking things but in practice it can be very rewarding and lead to a much richer experience.
I really enjoy the fact that this hobby provides many ways to engage with it and can be very enjoyable even when you are not actually playing the game. One of those ways that is very satisfying and engaging for me is to apply some critical thinking to the games themselves and to the experiences they help create.