Azul (2017) – Meeple Like Us
I’ve often spoken on this blog about the joy of tactility – that simply touching and handling lovely components is a substantial part of the fun of board gaming. A hand of cards feels good to hold. Dice feel nice to roll – lots of dice feel even nicer. Poker with chips is a different game to poker with actual money even if at the end you’re just as poor as you would be otherwise. Components matter for many reasons. Poker chips for example add in a layer of abstraction that creates what is called a suspension of judgement. You don’t really properly value the financial cost of a poker chip in the same way you do hard cash. More than that though are the deep networks of association and evocation that are associated with the glamour of a poker chip. The splash of plastic on an overgrowing pot is signalling information that impacts upon us at a very deep, subconscious level. It’s not just when real money is involved either. We feel differently when playing with metal coins as opposed to cardboard chits. Wooden cubes change our perception as opposed to plastic tokens. Components can make us play differently. The feel of a thing distorts our perceptions of a thing.