Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Capitalism in the New World

Given that you are a person that plays board games, you no doubt at some point in your school days got picked on. Mercilessly. Hopefully you found your own methods of dealing with those dicks. Yet within the friendly confines of the Ribs of Beef last Tuesday night, all those horrible memories came flooding back, as four of us sat down to play the game of unfettered capitalism that is "Ground Floor". Those four were Matthew Bond, Sam, Stu, and me.

Now, I can tell you are already thrilled at the prospect of this game, just from the title. "Ground Floor". Not "Fearsome Floors" (which Matthew Bond had stowed away in his bag, oh how I wish that Matthew Bond had swapped it with "Ground Floor" when nobody was looking). Not, oh wait, there are no other games with Floor in the title. Anyway, so what does "Ground Floor" entail? You, my friend, are building a tower block, in which your business will be based. So what kind of thrilling business will you be running, perhaps it will be something illegal and fun? No. You might be running a publishing company. Or, wait for it, "web based" which I think was the one that Stu played. Now, actually, that I think of it, "web based" probably means you run a a company that designs pornographic websites. That's surely what the designer was going for there. Anyway. Each of these businesses has a speciality. "Web based" is particularly good at ... meetings. Meetings.

HELLO MY FRIEND! LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THE WILD WORLD OF BOARD GAMES. WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME WHERE YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF A FLEDGLING BUSINESS? WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE THE WEB DESIGNERS? THAT'S PRETTY COOL RIGHT? WELL, GUESS WHAT! YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AT: MEETINGS!

Meetings.

And this is where the peer pressure came in. As we sat at the table, and went through the rules, and then took our first babysteps into the big wide world of business, our utterings were to be heard at the other table.

Matt: "I am going to upgrade my meeting room!"

Other tables: *they do not say anything, they are all rolling around on the floor giggling*

Later on I over heard one of the people at the other table say "I don't think that sounds like much fun". I looked over at them and grimaced. They giggled.

We were ridiculed mercilessly. Full time anarchist and grizzled punk rocker, "Punk Rich", who was killing Orcs or some shit, went fully to town on us. He criticised the man. He purposefully bought a scotch egg to prove how working class he was. He pumped his fist and ranted and raved. He criticised people at our table for wearing shirts, although Sam was in a t-shirt and retorted "I thought it was dress down Friday!". He threw a brick through my ground floor window. Anarchy in the UK. This was just a mere taster of the savage beatings we took at the hands of the other tables. And it made me think back of when I was in school. Not in a bad way, for this was all light hearted fun that I personally found roaringly funny. But it was amusing to see the whole hierarchy in action. Picked on in school for liking geeky games. Picked on at board game club for playing a game where you schedule meetings. Saints alive.

The rule session for the game took almost an hour and was a forebear of what was to come. The game itself was due to run for 9 turns, and it took 90 minutes to get through the first three. In the early days, our game based economy was stable then depressed, rather like the people playing it. Throwing caution to the wind, I played a strategy of employing people and manufacturing goods, even when very few people were likely to want them. It paid off. After 3 or 4 turns, I felt like I was in a pretty strong position, as I had plenty of the two important currencies in the game. Currency, and information. We had a good laugh about information, which seemed to be manufactured by the IT department. No doubt linked to PRISM, it would seem. Anyway, I saved up the spent all my earnings on clever upgrades for my towering inferno, and all of a sudden I was one floor away from being able to end the game (phew). I decided to spook everyone out on turn 6 and show my intent to end the game on that turn, I was pretty sure I could afford it. People's plans were thrown into disarray and a few minutes later my tower was finished, before we had even made it to the most powerful upgrades for the tower (probably a swanky new photocopier). Things were wrapped up and it was found that I had won with 37 points. Sam ran in second with 30, disappointed that all the money and time he had wasted on being "popular" (tell me about it) was ruined because I finished the game so quickly. Matt and Stu brought up the rear on 27.

So there you have it. A frankly astonishing game. It's actually not bad as a game, but good grief, that theme, that peer pressure ... I think we made the best of it, but I am not sure who this game is for. Maybe unemployed people who are desperate to simulate what it is like to actually be employed. And then they realise what a truly grim endeavour work can be and go back to curling up in a ball on the sofa, crying.

3 comments:

Alfonso said...

All the mockery aside, the theme of this game looked quite fun and I wouldn't mind giving it a go some time.

Management sims are big business (no pun intended) in the computer gaming world so I guess some of the appeal must cross over.

Minitrue said...

The business side of things looks interesting, but, ugh, the corporate babble. It's depressing. And it sounds awful from the neighbouring table.

Take that ! I am bringing in the consultants !

Just wait til you see my refurbished storage closet !

Shall I spend some time in a meeting ?

Yikes.

StuartG said...

Too much like work - I can't recall if there was a video conferencing facility or whether you gained additional information if you followed an ITIL Service Management strategy. It's rife for expansion - Ground Floor with project management or ISO27001 etc.

Need to get to some proper euro game themes - medieval, castles, churches, nobles, peasants etc.

Notre Dame, Harburgum will be in the bag next week.