As someone whose enthusiasm for abstract strategy games often shades into hallucinatory mania, I wish there were yearly awards with tuxes and gowns where prizes were given to those who contribute the most to the world of these games. If that happens the first nominee should be Arty Sandler, because he’s the brain behind the single best place to play abstract games online, ever, the igGameCenter.
He’s committed enormous time and effort in polishing the place into a shimmering ruby, with more polish to come, and I think that with a few pushes the site will find the gigantic audience that it richly deserves. No doubt it’ll happen without my help, but I’ve so enjoyed the site that I want to compensate it for all the pleasure it’s given me. This plug is my payment.
The best way to grok the igGameCenter‘s unholy greatness is to play there, but if you’re hesitant I’m going to convince you with the following scintillating bullet-pointed list:
- It has 132 games, many of which you can’t play anywhere else. They aren’t a random gallery of dreck. Most are good, a lot are great, and many are sublime.
- The interface is the job Steve-Jobs-Level good. Clean lines, nothing extraneous, everything is where you expect it. An interface to make grown men weep and wish they were more beautiful.
- The players are uniformly thoughtful and almost never refer to their dicks. I played more than 100 games there posing as a 19 year-old woman (don’t ask), and I was subject to one gross dick moment the whole time. Unprecedented for an online site. Digression: I noticed that nearly everyone was “warm” to me while I was a woman, much warmer than men normally are when I’m a man. Everyone seemed excessively kind and polite. Proposal: To make the world a better place, we men should pretend that all other men are women and treat them that way. No more war, no more arguments. Just awkward attempts at flirting. A better world.
- In contrast to most sites for abstract games, these games are in real time. They’re better that way.
- The site tracks your ratings for every game, as well as other stats. You can watch your rating rise and say to yourself “Yes sir ma’am, I really am getting smarter”, or you can watch your rating fall and it will remind you to take your Alzheimer’s meds.
- You can play with or without time controls, ranked or unranked games, and your games can be private or public. I play all my games public because then other players stop by to say hi and chat in the chat window while I’m playing. Especially when I’m a woman.
- You can find lots of well-known classics there: Chess, Go, Checkers, Mancala, Othello, Connect 4, Shogi, Dots and Boxes, a Scrabble clone, and even Battleship for when you want to feel like a bored 8-year old. You’ll also find variants of these games as well, like Grand Chess, or Russian Checkers, or Anti-Othello
- The Sandbox: this is a utility that lets you play abstract games which haven’t been coded into the site yet. Abstract games designers use it for playtesting their new games. I would marry it if I could
- Bots. This is a new development. Some of the games have AI players you can play against.
- The greatest strength of the site, though, is that nearly *all* the best modern abstracts are there. It’s amazing. Abstract game design is in the middle of a renaissance, and nowhere is the fruit of this period on better display than at the igGameCenter. Example:
- The single greatest abstract strategy game ever invented (objectively speaking), called Slither, can be played at the igGameCenter, and nowhere else. I swear to you. I’ve been obsessively designing and playing abstract games for many years and Slither stopped me in my tracks. It’s a watershed game.
Top 10 Modern Abstracts You Should Try at the igGameCenter, in My Unassailable Opinion.
The One Other Game That You Absolutely Must Try at igGameCenter
- Ketchup – I just happened to have designed this one, but that fact is totally incidental to my recommendation.
Go play there or else I’ll sneak into your house in the night and break all the eggs in your fridge. I’ll make it easy for you. Another nice feature is that I can embed the igGameCenter anywhere, like so: