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Overcoming Analysis Paralysis: Tips for Getting Past the Hesitation in Board Gaming

You and your friends are sitting around the game table playing the newest game. Your friends turn is taking way longer than everyone else's turn. What is going on with them? Are they asleep after staying up all night painting minis for Gloomhaven? Are the listening to the newest podcast from Game Brain? Why are they not taking their turn? It could be analysis paralysis.


Try not to over think it
Try not to over think it

What is Analysis Paralysis?

Analysis paralysis can be a few things. The first definition that comes to mind is over thinking the problem. This can be when you are trying to think too far ahead in the game. This happens to me in games like chess where I see what my opponent has done and thinking about what I can do to react to it and then what are they likely to do after that and how I can react to that and so on and so on. Simply put a player will go too far down the decision tree to analyze how their next move will change the game. There are plenty of players of games out there that can handle this and make a choice fairly quickly.


The second variation I see happening especially in larger/heavier board games where players are presented with too many options to handle at one time. This puts players in a difficult position. The game might include several places to put a worker, a tech tree, and maybe some resources to manage. Players will take a long time trying to figure out what they can and then should do on their turn. This can be extended by not giving the player all the information to make their choice until right before their turn. This can happen when the environment changes making their choices different than the player before.

We all come from different places and have different needs and games create a framework for us to communicate and play together in a predetermined way.

Another reason a person may be having trouble with the decision(s) presented before them in the game is simply not the game at all. The player may be predisposed to analysis paralysis by a mental health condition such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety as I discovered in an article by the Cleveland Clinic. The player might also just be distracted by whats going on in their life.


What Can You Do About Analysis Paralysis?

The first bit of advice I would give is go into this with grace. The second thing I would say also is that we are talking about games. We play games for fun and entertainment, if we are no longer having fun is there still value in playing the game? For people who are over analyzing the game and their move, don't. If you are not good at making a timely decision because you are over thinking the possibilities and this holds the game up you need to just make the decision a more simpler choice. Sometimes making a less informed choice is liberating an can get you unstuck for the rest of the game. Think about it, this is why chess matches have clocks, it keeps the game moving.


Make the move
Make the move

If you are suffering from too much analysis paralysis then perhaps its time to reconsider the games you are playing. Choosing a game with less decision points may help you make a decision faster. But do not give up on a game you love. You can also approach the big games a little differently by coming up with a strategy or framework for playing before the game or after the game has been set up. Stick to your strategy and it will make decision making easier. If you are not the one who has the analysis paralysis issue but there is someone in your game that does have the issue then go back to the part where I said enter this with grace. You do not know why the person is having issues. If you want the game to move faster then try asking questions and figuring out what you can do to help. It might be as simple as someone isn't clear on a rule and they are hung up on that. Whatever you do do it nicely and approach with caution, the last thing you want to do is offend or embarrass someone at the game table. We all sat down at the game table for fun not to be harassed or pushed into making choices. Always remember that we all come from different places and have different needs and games create a framework for us to communicate and play together in a predetermined way.


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