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Friday, April 29, 2011

TIMELY TOPICS - I like to Fiddle with my bits (Fiddliness in gaming - what's the big deal?)

I love my game bits! This is of course why I'm so obsessive about storing them properly. I love opening a game and seeing lots of bits or having lots of chits to punch out and sort.

So what's the deal with everyone bothered by fiddliness in games? No really!? Most games have stuff you have to mess around with - pieces all over the board, drawing tiles or bits, etc. And, honestly, I'm sort of tired of hearing about games being 'too fiddly'. I love fiddly!

Well, I thought I did. But then I wondered: what exactly is 'fiddly'? Once I started looking into it, everyone seemed to think 'fiddly' means something different. And, often, 'fiddly' seems to be associated with something 'bad' in relation to evaluating and describing games although I didn't really see that at all.

If I'm going to be writing more game reviews, I really want to make sure what I'm saying comes across clearly without ambiguity. And, although I like the word fiddly quite a bit (because to me it means a game has lots of bits that you might have to move around a lot) it seems there is too much confusion in it's usage.

So, my first stop was the dictionary (well, several online dictionaries rather). Here are some 'official' definitions I found:

FIDDLY
  1. Small and awkward to do or handle (www.dictionary.com)
  2. Requiring dexterity to operate (www.wiktionary.com)
  3. Requiring close attention to detail : fussy; especially : requiring an annoying amount of close attention (www.merriam-webster.com)
  4. Difficult and annoying because you have to make small complicated movements with your fingers (www.macmillandictionary.com)
  5. Difficult to do, especially because you have to deal with very small objects (www.ldoceonline.com)
  6. صعب  (www.almaany.com - arabic)
  7. Requiring dexterity to operate (www.allwords.com)
  8. U.K.: tricky to do; difficult to do, handle, or use, usually because intricate work with the hands or small objects are involved (encarta.msn.com)
  9. Nitpicky, detailed, fine, small, repetitive, possibly boring. Usually used in reference to a task. (www.urbandictionary.com)
  10. Complicated or detailed and awkward to do or use (oxforddictionaries.com)
Ok, formal definitions are all fine and dandy, but do these REALLY describe what people are talking about when referring to board games being fiddly? Somewhat I think - they are definitely related. And, I'm a little disheartened as fiddly seems to be more of a bad word than a good word, even by those definitions above depending on which dictionary you're looking at. But, I suspect there's something more to it than just that when relating to games.

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