Candy Land is one of those kiddie games that seems to immediately divide adults into two camps: those who hate it, and those who loathe it. No, wait…those who love it, and those who loathe it. That’s better. Some parents have fond memories of introducing their geeklets to board games with this old standby, while others remember endless requests to play what seems like the most pointless game on earth.
Play This Thing’s Greg Costikyan doesn’t appear to fall into either camp, but he uses a lot of fifty-cent words to arrive at that conclusion in his 1,300 word analysis of the quest for King Kandy.
"But to think of Candy Land in terms of its dialectical role in acculturating American children to consumerism, or indeed to think of it in mathematical terms, is to consider its external indicia, rather that its pure characteristics as a game qua game. Let us return, therefore, to its formal game nature."
I can honestly say that I never considered either the dialectical role or the mathematical nature of Candy Land, being part of the latter group of adults mentioned earlier. I can also say that Costikyan’s prolix exploration of the game’s underlying structure and message hasn’t made me any more likely to ever actually own a copy of the game. That said, I can also tell you that I’m going to spend the rest of the morning with words like "nugatory" and "ludological" bouncing around in my head. That alone is worth the time to read the post.