Aspects of Play: Jenga

As part of the module, the task was to look into the various types of games within the 3 specific bands of play. The band this game I shall be discussing ‘Jenga’ belongs to is Board Games.

When playing Jenga, I found that it belonged to the following categories of play in relation to Roger Caillois’ theory of play; Agon

In terms of Mimicry, it wasn’t present for this game as the game primarily consists of removing blocks from a built tower of Jenga blocks in order to not be the one to topple the tower, and this is done by the player themselves, not the player acting through a character. Agon is the primary factor for this game as the game is primarily a multiplayer game requiring many people to attempt to win, the competition stems from the tactical aspect of gameplay by removing blocks that would leave the structure weak so that the next persons turn would be the one to lose. Illinx doesn’t play apart of this game as nothing is generally disorientating about removing blocks from a tower of blocks and waiting for it to topple. Alea isn’t an aspect of this game directly because of no external random element for the game having an effect on gameplay.

In terms of the elements in this game that I liked, I really liked the competitive element of it with planning out tactical block removals to avoid being the one to topple the tower but also to have someone else be the one to do that.

State of Flow, was it achieved?

Yes. Although in a fractured sense, the times in which it came to my turn for block removal, I found myself entering a state of flow because of how nerve wrecking and intense it was to remove a block and avoid the structure toppling

If I were designing a game similar to this, I would implemented something that best suited more then 2 players. You see with Jenga, one person loses but multiple people can win, usually the social norm is to rebuild the Jenga tower and go again until the numbers have been whittled down to 2 again, but I think i’d attempt to implement something that would complement a larger player base.



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