Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Learning from A Classroom Game

 All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door”

Albert Camus

When I was in high school way back in the early-mid 1980s – and totally immersed in roleplaying games as well as a few wargames – I pursued an idea for a nuclear war themed card game. I’d never seen Flying Buffalo’s Nuclear War, though the advertisements for it in Dragon Magazine probably lurked in my subconscious. My junior-year English teacher encouraged me in my game-design endeavors, to the point where she asked me to prepare a master to photocopy and trim so everyone in the class could give it a try. Looking back on it all these years later, it reminds me of a few lessons about creativity, production, and a game’s intention; lessons I failed to realize at the time but issues with which I’ve contended throughout my involvement in the adventure game hobby.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Everybody Wins: Modern Board Game History

We live for books. A sweet mission in this world dominated by disorder and decay.”

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

As I get older and
our society stumbles through the Internet Age I’m acutely aware of the ephemeral nature of anything I find on the web. Online resources about the history of the adventure gaming hobby and the companies and people who produce our favorite game-related entertainment come and go. Bookmarked sites I used to rely on vanish without a trace. People move on from their website projects, which languish without updates or fade without support for a hosting service. While people can update and expand information on the internet, none of it matters if it eventually disappears. Print books, however outdated, still offer us a more permanent resources. Books about the adventure gaming hobby provide a snapshot of the state of affairs at the particular moment of publication. So I’m delighted when I see a volume like James Wallis’ Everybody Wins: Four Decades of the Greatest Board Games Ever Made documenting notable board games in the context of the prestigious German Spiel des Jahres award.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Say & Respect “It’s Just Not for Me”

 If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.”

Benjamin Franklin

As members of the adventure gaming hobby and fans of many media properties related to it, we enthusiastically promote the things we love that provide us entertainment, respite, and joy. It’s a pretty human quality; we want to share our happiness with others to enrich someone else’s life and to make more like-minded friends so our community grows. We do this across the broad spectrum of our interpersonal interactions: at game stores, parties, conventions, family gatherings, in person and online, with anyone we suspect has similar tastes. Unfortunately the more specific we get – and even the more zealously enthusiastic we get – the more we risk turning someone off from the particular thing we like. We’re also susceptible to others vehemently recommending things we might or even should like if we consider ourselves part of a particular fan community. Sometimes something we love isn’t someone else’s “cup of tea.” And sometimes another person, even a close friend, recommends something that’s “Just not for me.” We should respect others’ decisions in what’s suitable for them and hope others afford us the same courtesy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Complexity Fatigue

 Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.”

Alan Perlis

I first immersed myself in the roleplaying game hobby through Basic Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced D&D, games whose multifaceted intricacies helped occupy my free time in my youth. But as I graduated from high school, immersed myself in collegiate studies, and later endured the real-world job market, I discovered I had little time and hence a waning appetite for games with such intricate complexities. I tried in those early college years to maintain my involvement in roleplaying games with friends back home. It took a streamlined, cinematic rules system with a media property I loved – Star Wars – to rekindle my interest in and love for roleplaying games. Since that transition I’ve leaned more toward “simpler” games for two reasons: my own play style preferences for “easier” rules and my urge to introduce games to newcomers who might immerse themselves int the adventure gaming hobby.