Gaming Slow

Even the high-octane world of gaming is warming to the joys of slowness. Say hello to Slow Games.

Slow poker

One of the most surprising cultural eruptions of recent years has to be poker’s arrival as a television sport. Talk about strange bedfellows: poker, when you play it right, is slow; TV is all about speed. In fact, impatient TV producers have favoured the fastest variant of poker and tweaked the rules to make it even faster. But is something being lost in all this acceleration? Victoria Coren, an English journalist and poker aficionado, thinks so. In an article published last year, she laments the way the need for speed is warping her favourite game. Here is her take on it (I don’t understand half the jargon either, by the way): “When a tournament is moving quickly, you have to gamble. In many cases, a re-raise before the flop would put a player all in. There isn’t time to let the cards tell a story, to try “feeler bets” for information, or make a good fold: you just can’t afford to leave chips behind. So, on TV, you often see people gambling in a way that negates much of poker’s thoughtfulness and sophistication – the speed favours luck over skill.” Yet there may be a backlash brewing. Coren writes about the emergence of “slow tournaments” that allocate a full day per game and give the best players the time to strut their stuff.

Slow video games?

Maybe it was only a matter of time. The other day an avid gamer posted a plea on the OCModShop website calling for a little less speed in the video gaming world. He doesn’t want to play games where everything stops so that each player can take turns; he likes the speed and adrenalin-rush of dealing with knights and soldiers and monsters popping up out of nowhere. But he also thinks programmers should give gamers the power to slow the action down from time to time so that they can make better decisions and make full use of their characters’ strengths. Here’s what he says: “First of all, there should be some middle ground between the stodgy turn taking, hex-based strategy games and the twitch-action strategy games that permeate the market today….I mean, let’s be honest here; wouldn’t it be more fun to actually have time to position your various units so that each can use their unique strengths in the most effective way?” Sounds like of gaming-friendly summary of the Slow creed. The title of his entry was In Praise of Slowness.