Die Geschichte der Kooperativen Spiele (5)

Im Jahr 2008 kam „Pandemie“ heraus. Man kann wohl mit Fug und Recht behaupten, dass dieses Spiel die kooperativen Spiele allgemein salonfähig gemacht hat. Daher ist der Autor Matt Leacock nun unser letzter Gast – so führen wir dieses Interview auf Englisch.


What was your inspiration and motivation to make your first cooperative game, Pandemic?

I was interested in trying to design a cooperative game of my own after playing Reiner Knizia’s Lord of the Rings. I was surprised how engaging it could be to play against a game made only of paper and cardboard. I also found that I enjoyed playing cooperative games with my wife more than competitive games and set out to see if I could design something we’d enjoy playing together.

People are selfish. Why, from your point of view, was your game so successful, leading to a wave of many other cooperative games?

I think the secret to Pandemic’s success is that it presents successive waves of hope and fear. You feel like you have the situation in hand, and then the game deals your team a heavy blow. Then, perhaps you’ll get on top of the situation, only to find yourself being dealt another challenge. All these ups and downs can be very engaging – much like a good story.

I think the game is also successful because it’s relatively easy to learn and play and the roles give every player a chance to feel like they can contribute something unique.

The heaviest design problem seems to be the „alpha player problem“: Most cooperative games can be played essentially by a single person. How do different later games adress that problem?

A lot of different approaches have been tried to address this. Hanabi tackles it by limiting information access and restricting communication. Space Alert and Escape introduced a real time element—there’s too much for any one player to handle in those games and they become a “distributed computing” problem. Other games such as Shadows Over Camelot and Battlestar Galactica have a traitor element. Each of these changes the nature of the game though; you can’t discuss problems in the same way that you can in a purely cooperative game. In my games I like to present a rich field of options where there are many possible “right” answers to consider so a single player can’t point to one obvious solution to any given problem.

This year, the competitive games „Orléans“ and „Port Royal“ both got an expansion that allows playing them cooperatively. How do you think about that? Could any arbitrary game become cooperative?

No, I don’t think so. It’s hard to imagine playing Chess cooperatively, for example. Other games where players attempt to accrue a lot of points can be made cooperative by making the goal of the game the highest communal score. While these approaches may technically work, I think you’ll get much better play experiences when designing the games to be cooperative from the start.

Dieses Spiel hat es wirklich in sich.

How do you see the future of cooperative games?

I suspect they’ll continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. One aspect that I’ve been exploring with Rob Daviau is how story can be more closely integrated with cooperative games. Pandemic Legacy is the first product where we’ve really started to explore this space and people really seem to be enjoying the experiment.

We do enjoy Pandemic Legacy as well! Thank you very much for the interview.


Nun wünschen wir allen Lesern ein frohes und verspieltes Weihnachtsfest! Im neuen Jahr werde ich noch ein Resümee zu dieser Serie aus unserer Sicht schreiben, um die verschiedenen Entwicklungen zusammenzufassen.

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