Too many choices

Complex games can be great fun. You have to really stretch yourself and think several steps ahead, while having alternative strategies ready to respond to the other player’s actions. You wrack your brain to come up with the best solution on each turn. It takes a lot of thinking and therefore is enjoyable by people who like this sort of puzzle.

However, for some people even relatively simple games can become an issue. If there are too many options on each turn, the time it takes to make a decision increases hugely – and for some people it is too much. The term “analysis paralysis”, or AP, is commonly used for this situation where it is simply too hard for someone to make a decisions.

Of course, the term is rather fluid. The same situation could take ages to resolve for some people, while others merely take seconds to make a choice. Even when there is only a limited number of choices, some people will take considerably longer to come to a decision because they are trying to think many turns ahead or want to find the optimum choice – while others go with their gut instinct and don’t worry about it too much.

AP has generally little to do with how competitive you are. The most competitive players often find a solution quicker because their brain is just better suited to see the best solution for a given situation for a certain type of game. In my experience, AP players are often not competitive at all, but they want to find the cleanest or nicest option that is most helpful for the game overall, even if they help other players gain the lead.

It is usually about the complexity of a game, the number of options available, the need to look several turns ahead or how easy it is to identify different options in the first place. So analysis paralysis is usually not an issue in real-time games, because it is usually obvious what choices are available, there is often no time to think ahead, and actions you take have an immediate result. Dexterity games are also good games for players who might otherwise lean towards AP, because again the options are clear and the outcome depends on how well you flick the game piece, rather than the decisions you make.

Have you played with AP players before – or are you an AP player yourself? If so, what games do you tend to play with them? What is your experience with AP? Please post your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation.

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