March 19, 2009

LCR - The Dumbest Game Ever Made.

I recently had some friends over for diner and, as is customary among the people I hang out with, after eating we decided to play some table top games. Wow - big surprise, right?

Well, it was actually because I believe I discovered quite possibly the stupidest game ever made. It's called "L.C.R." which stands for Left Center Right. It's a betting game that involves rolling three dice, moving chips around the board depending on the results, and there is ZERO strategy. It's a "game" of chance - which in my book makes it barely a game at all. I'm completely confused by the 18+ reviews on Amazon and the 4 star rating... what am I missing?

Can something be a "game" when there is no choice or control on the part of the player? Are slot machines games? I tend to agree with the computer game designer Chris Crawford in that a game must include the player's ability to interfere with the outcome of play. LCR and slot machines do not even barely meet that definition.

A drunk cat laying on a bed of catnip surrounded by mice in a food coma from eating cheese could play LCR. No really... I'm not joking. If there is some way to get the dice to roll around, the game moves forward.

I was absolutely floored.

Played it for about 5 minutes and then spent the rest of the evening making fun of it and playing Dominion instead. We had a blast.

What's the most idiotic, stupid, or otherwise shockingly lame game you have ever played? What do you consider to be a game? Even Wikipedia is not sure what a game is. (yunno... because Wikipedia is like the Emerald Wizard of Oz...)


  1. Can I place a shameless plug in here?

    I tackled the definition of a game a while back (right before I attempted to define a roleplaying game).

    This is what I ended up with:

    A game is a dynamic form of play, structured by rules, where players participate to overcome opposition in order to achieve a goal.

  2. To follow up, I'd have to see if the game met my requirements. For instance, let's test the slot machine:

    Active Participation: Check. The slot machine doesn't activate by itself and you can't win without pulling the lever.

    Dynamics: Check. Player input changes the game state, the reels spin and land on a seemingly random result.

    Goals: Check. The goal is to get three (or more) matching results on the reels, and of course, win money.

    Opposition: Check. Chance is the slot machine player's opposition (assuming the house hasn't tweaked anything).

    Rules: Check. Sure, they're not intensive, but the rules are you give money so you can pull the lever so you have an opportunity to overcome the odds of matching. And no, you cannot beat the machine or otherwise interfere with how the reels resolve.

    I think one of the things where my definition does not hold up is that we could probably find a lot of examples that meet my requirement, but are definitely not games... or maybe they are and we just don't realize it.

  3. Yes, I'll agree that this is a game. Not necessarily a thinking game, a strategic game...but still a game. If this isn't a game, Chutes and Ladders and Candyland aren't games.

    What you're looking for is strategic games. Where each player's actions depend on one another, and they can undertake strategies which influence the results. (I don't recall the strict definition from Game Theory class, but that's roughly it) An easy way, for example, to make this into a strategic game would be to allow you to roll dice for 3-6 chips, instead of just 3. You choose how many chips to risk.

  4. If you define "game" too loosely it becomes synonymous with "structured play". But when people see the word "game" they have certain expectations. I know I'd be disappointed if I bought a boxed game and found only instructions for how to flip a coin and record the results.

    Remember that regardless of what tortured definition someone tried to apply to a word, what really matters is how the word is actually used. I consider Poker or Go Fish to be games, but I don't consider a slot machine or roulette to be games.

    I suppose my definition requires more player input than activating the game's machinery. If they made a slot machine where the player could manipulate some puzzle to stop the reels individually, I'd call that a game.


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