I think the clues were all there. This will maybe be no big epiphany to most of my readers, who mostly know me well. But the full realization came as something of a surprise to me: I like talking about games more than I like playing them. In fact, I think one of the main reasons I even bother playing games is so that I can talk about them afterwards, or even during.
Whatever it might be, the design of the game itself, the way the game played out, or the strategies that one might employ. The latter of these was what really got my attention yesterday. I was playing a bit of this flash game proximity, and was mulling over the strategies one might use. The game was fun, but it was mostly a testing session to puzzle over what the overall strategies might be. And when I came to interesting tradeoffs, about defensive moves vs offensive ones, for example, I wanted to chat over them. If I'd been playing with a person, I would have found that much more interesting than continuing to play the game in isolation of one another.
What does that mean? Some offshoots:
1) It help explains some of my issues with being chatty during games.
2) This explains why I like games like Magic, where discussing new cards, decks, strategies, formats, are totally part of the game. Similarly, I like that Apples to Apples is mostly about discussing the choices (at least for me), and can see how I might come to like an open-ended game like Race for the Galaxy once I could talk competently about the cards.
3) Maybe this means I'm cut out to design games, in that I like thinking about games and externalizing said thoughts. But maybe it means I'm a lousy choice - I mean, if I don't even like playing games, just theorizing about them, does that disqualify me from doing it right?
4) Is there a way to leverage this appeal into a game? Cooperative games are a start, where you discuss strategies. Nomics are a start, but sort of too fiddly. I guess the problem is that it can't be competitive, at least not openly. Maybe what I want isn't a game at all, but a conversation. Is there a way to structure an activity that would scratch this itch? Now I'm just getting out there. Maybe there is room for something like this in a Social Game (a topic I've not really touched upon yet properly here, but likely will some day).
Games are more interesting than they are fun, for me, these days. A troubling realization, perhaps.