What’s the best game on the planet?

Some games are better than others; here are some criteria for evaluating a game's strength. How easy would it be for computers to beat humans? I would rank basketball as the toughest game for a team of robots to win, followed by soccer. Baseball would be fairly easy for a team of robots to win. Computers can beat us at chess and checkers. This criteria was suggested by Andy McKenzie. What do you have to do to become really good? I prefer games that involve mastery of strategy over games that involve constant repetition of one activity to become better. In chess, for example, good players have to memorize thousands of opening book combinations. Good tennis players have to practice returning millions of serves so they can return a serve coming at them at 120 mph. Golf players have to hit millions of drives, baseball players have to hit millions of balls in the cage. How susceptible is the game to arbitrary refereeing decisions? This is soccer's main shortcoming; the referees have way too much influence. Same for figure skating. Tennis and baseball have largely solved these problems through technology. How hard is it to explain the game to a newcomer? Basketball, baseball, football, rugby etc are tough to explain to foreigners, and similarly it takes an amount of coordination and practice to become a passable player. Golf is immensely difficult for newcomers. How easy would it be for a newcomer to beat a pro? There is too much luck involved in a game of poker; it's nearly impossible for the best players to survive a field of 10,000 because the game demands they win multiple confrontations where the lower player has a 5%-20% chance of winning. Luck should be involved but not too much. Basketball is a good example - any shot has a chance of going in, and over the long run the team with a higher percentage will win. Soccer games are too dependent on luck; it's rare for teams to score 3 goals, and it's harder to distinguish between teams. How many different ways are there to achieve the target objective? In basketball, you can beat a team by playing tough defense, by getting every rebound, by shooting well, or by not turning the ball over. Every team has its strengths and weaknesses. Settlers of Catan is such a good board game because there are several different winning strategies. Does professional play discriminate among the population? The NBA has one player below six feet. Most players in the NFL and MLB are huge (and can move well). Golf and soccer tilt much more in the favor of people who have played for a long amount of time. Are the games the pros play just extensions of games kids play, where the participants are bigger and better? This is an extension of the robot question. In golf, baseball, and most board games the players do the same things over and over again, regardless of the level of play. Great soccer and basketball require advanced strategy and great teamwork. There are not that many great team games. Every position in football is boring, except for head coach and quarterback. Lacrosse involves too much standing around off the ball and too much emphasis on one-on-one play. I think that we can design better games than the ones we currently play, although it's hard to knock off favorites. Look at Monopoly, a game that takes 2-3 hours and has no real strategy, yet is one of the most popular around the world. Flirting and mating, the game men and women play when they grow up, may be one of the best games on the planet. The players are sorted ruthlessly. "The Game" also requires coordination.

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