The Sorrow of the Heavy Gamer

Photograph of Food Chain Magnate in mid play. Many cards are sprawled across the table.

Jobby is feeling a bit low about his lack of playing heavy games…

What Kind of Gamer are You?

I was listening to the excellent Five Games for Doomsday when I heard something that gave me pause. Elizabeth Hargrave was being interviewed and Ben asked her what kind of gamer she would describe herself as. Her response was fairly typical but on this particular day it jumped out at me. What she said was:

I’ll play most things, I can go pretty heavy.

Elizabeth Hargrave

Fairly standard answer, right? Many of the people I game with would probably give a similar answer. Therein lies the problem.

Heavy Entertainment

I could almost give the opposite answer to Elizabeth:

I’ll play most things, I can go pretty light.


My favourite games are filled with difficult decisions. The sort of games where victory is a hard fought thing, where a slip-up can leave a player floundering for the rest of the game. They don’t have to be long but it does help.

I want a game that provides narrative; things start small and build up. There are swings to and fro. There is conflict. There is struggle. There is triumph. I want a game where players sit and discuss what happened for half an hour after the game has finished. You don’t get that playing Smugglers.

Photograph of Food Chain Magnate in mid play. Many cards are sprawled across the table.
Food Chain Magnate is the kind of lovely, sprawling, brutal beauty that I love.

I’m not trying to be snobbish here. If that doesn’t sound like your kettle of fish then that’s not a problem. The problem is when a group of people get together to play. At that point we seem to slip down to the lowest common denominator and I find that a pity.

I’m very lucky to have several gaming groups. They consist of friends (some very long-time friends), family and the occasional visit to a game-club-in-a-pub. Despite this, if I want to play something big and meaty I have to seek out the right people to play with and make special arrangements. In fact, because of the varied players I play games with I have played waaaay more games of Dobble than I would care to admit. 😢

So what’s the answer? Well, there isn’t one really. I don’t mind playing that lighter stuff and I’m thankful that I get to play so many games. I guess I wish sometimes the people around me would appreciate that I’m being (sometimes extremely) accommodating to their tastes. Sometimes it would be nice if people around me offered to try something a little outside of their comfort zone. They might be surprised, they might enjoy themselves!

Ooh, here’s someone who knows a thing or two about heavy entertainment…

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