Affect and emotion pervade our gaming experiences, the former signifying the general mood and the latter pointing to specific feelings as they emerge. Yet despite the incomparable feelings of winning, losing, kingmaking, or cooperating, board games are usually associated with cognitive, logical processes. This issue of Analog Game Studies re-introduces games to the feelings they produce, re-imagining the gamer as a sensitive, feeling subject.
In “No Game’s Land: The Space Between Competition and Collaboration,” David Phelps, Tom Fennewald, Emily Sheepy, and Ellen Jameson discuss board games as allegorical spaces in which choices between the greater of two goods must be made. The authors describe the game Troubled Lands as an example of a semi-competitive game that models how decisions are often made in the real world, with all the conflicted emotion that comes with them. Douglas C. Maynard and Joanna R. Herron’s “The Allure of Struggle and Failure in Cooperative Board Games” addresses the pleasures of “crashing and burning… together” in games such as Hanabi and Dead of Winter. Collective failure, as it turns out, creates a specific aesthetic experience that players seek out. Finally, in “Affective Networks at Play: Catan, COIN, and The Quiet Year,” Cole Wehrle explores the emotional underpinnings of three distinct games in an analysis of affect as a core element of analog game design. Wehrle teases out the central tensions in these board and card games to make the point that game design is above all concerned with emotionally laden propositions of many kinds.
May 2, 2016