Interesting article in the New York Times about the ascendance of games "where no one loses." The article focuses on the creators of Cranium, as an example of a highly successful independent game in which social cohesion and fun are more important than having one player defeat the others. However, the author notes that some competition is essential for a game to be interesting; there must be a delicate balance between competition and letting everyone have a moment to "shine."
This piece also touches on the importance of user testing in game design. The money quote: "there is no way to know if a game idea you have sketched on paper is going to work ... the only thing to do is endlessly play-test it, scrutinizing your players with anthropological intensity for signs of distraction or ennui."
In addition, the article mentions something for another Edgames wiki article: the card game Apples for Apples, which I hadn't heard of before. It's a word game in which there are no "correct" answers; instead, the aim of the game is to stimulate friendly, intelligent debate about vocabulary. The game has sold over a million copies in three years, and was designed by an independent designer, not a big game company. There is hope for us all!
Read the whole thing - it's well worth it.