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Carl Garber
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Hi all! I see some people talk about gateway games in the context of hoping to one day get potential gamers past these gateway games to more meatier games. However, in my case gateway games are the target in themselves!

This is how I define a gateway game:

1) not too many rules
2) strategy can be discerned after at most a couple plays
3) shorter play time

The reason this is desirable for me is that I mainly game with casual gamers. I desire real competition in my gaming experiences and if games strongly favor experienced players I will not find this competition I desire. Instead I like games where a reasonably bright person can see the different mechanisms of a game and come up with strategies after a relatively short amount of time.

Now some people limit the term "gateway" to light games. But I have found that according to my definition it is more like light-medium games. Games that I have that meet my definition(in my experience with nongamers/newbies) are: Settlers, Stone Age, Alhambra, Ticket to Ride, Strasbourg, Macao, and El Grande. Now if any of you happen to look at the comments section of my games you will notice that I own a pretty good win/loss record especially with these last 3 games that many would not consider "gateways" games. However, I have found that the competition level was fairly competitive for these games with other people being close to winning when I finally won(and I could also see the learning curve jump dramatically from game to game).

So those are my thoughts! Now to a couple of polls:

This is the same poll twice. The difference is this first poll is using my definition of gateway (including games like Strasbourg, Macao and El Grande) whereas the second is using the more commonly understood usage of gateway (lighter games with a max weight of around 2.7).

According to my defintion of "gateway":
Poll
Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or an end in themselves?
A means to an end (Let's play Agricola already!)
An end in themselves (Settlers anyone?)
      176 answers
Poll created by CarlG


According to the BGG consensus definition of "gateway":

Poll
Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or and end in themselves?
Means to an end (Let's play Agricola already!)
An ends in themselves (Settlers anyone?)
      142 answers
Poll created by CarlG

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Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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These two polls are an identical poll number (89981), and won't get distinct results. You'll need two separately numbered polls asking the same thing.
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Carl Garber
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*sigh* a year into being an active BGGer and I'm still a noobshake

thanks for the heads up Jonathan, should be fixed now! Sorry to everyone that previously voted before the fix.
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David
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Variety is the spice of life. I just checked my collection and my best rated games range from 1.1 to 3.6... While I have a perceived preference towards heavier games my ratings would suggest otherwise. My guess is that heavier = longer = less played = more desired.

I'd jump at the opportunity to play BSG, Agricola or Eclipse but I am completely happy to play lighter games too. I always chuckle at people who talk about "real board games" versus lighter games. The notion that a game needs to be long and complex to be fun and worth playing is silly IMO.
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Witek Wasilewski
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TheRakeman wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
Variety is the spice of life. I just checked my collection and my best rated games range from 1.1 to 3.6... While I have a perceived preference towards heavier games my ratings would suggest otherwise. My guess is that heavier = longer = less played = more desired.

I'd jump at the opportunity to play BSG, Agricola or Eclipse but I am completely happy to play lighter games too. I always chuckle at people who talk about "real board games" versus lighter games. The notion that a game needs to be long and complex to be fun and worth playing is silly IMO.


Definitely. Especially since there is always a longer and more complex game. What it boils down to is "the games I play are real games because they fit my needs more, other games are not real games because I don't like them as much."

Personally, it really depends on the group for me. If I'm with a group that is fun and likes lighter games, I will have just as much fun as I will playing heavier ones.


+1

I have just ordered Ticket to Ride: Europe
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TheRakeman wrote:

Personally, it really depends on the group for me. If I'm with a group that is fun and likes lighter games, I will have just as much fun as I will playing heavier ones.


This. I've met people who regarded certain games as "too childish" or "too easy" or "no real hard decision" and wouldn't even lay a finger at it. That's their opinion. When I play games, I don't play for competitiveness, I play for the social and fun it brings, so who cares how "meaty" the game is?

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Sophie Morgan
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming
Re: Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or simply and end in themselves for you? *includes polls*
I tend toward the lighter end of the spectrum, too. My preference for an ideal game night is to play several different games, preferably multiple plays. So maybe we play something like Pastiche or Tobago twice, then round out with several quick games like Ra: The dice Game, Can't Stop, Hey That's My Fish, or Through the Desert.

Now, I will play the heavier stuff at a game night at a store or something, but that tends to be the only game played. After three hours, it's late and time to go home.

I don't think it makes me "less" of a gamer to play the lighter fare. As with any hobby, there are levels of interest and difficulty. I know plenty of people who call themselves "golfers" but yet they never get on a real course and only play on the driving range. It's not for me to say whether they're a golfer or not. They obviously enjoy the sport, even if they're not getting the "full experience" that other people think they should have.
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Eric Clason
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For a long time I've introduced gateway games to casual gamers. Not because I hope to turn them into hardcore gamers, but because I like playing game with people. Also sometimes casual gamers will add a gateway game or 2 to the mass market games they own and/or are comfortable playing even without me.
 
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David Boeren
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A gateway game is one that can be used to introduce new gamers, due to being easy to learn, etc... It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it, or that playing it later will cause your brain to shrink up or whatever.

It's a game, it's fun to play, that's what games are. Experienced gamers can still play it. Now, as experienced gamers we *also* like heavier games that are probably too much to teach to a newbie. No problem there either. On any given game night you may play multiple games, some which are lighter and some which are heavier.

I feel there's a lot of fuss being made over some rather arbitrary labels and distinctions here and honestly I can't really figure out what sort of answer you want from me on the poll. Just because I can play Agricola doesn't mean I am no longer willing to join in a game of Ticket to Ride, Alhambra, Ingenious, Fresco, or whatever other newbie-friendly game you want to do. You'll never get me to play Settlers, but that's just because it's a crappy game, not because it's a "gateway".

Similarly, if I introduce a new person to a gateway game, they may or may not also like some heavier game. I don't like all games either, why should I expect them to? Will I introduce them to a medium weight game at some point when they have sufficient experience? Yes, I probably would. But it's to see if they like it, not because I have some agenda to get them to "grow up" and play harder games.
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Vince G.
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My answer to either poll would be "both". The two purposes are not mutually exclusive.

Those "gateway" games you listed are ridiculously good games in and of themselves, and are worth a lot of replay. Going "beyond" them is purely a matter of personal taste.

However, there is a learning curve to games as they increase in complexity. So if you have some friends with whom you want to try hard, complex games, it makes sense to work through some "gateway" games to build up their skills before you dive into the deep end. For a simple example, if my goal was to get my wife to play Puerto Rico, I would bring out San Juan first to introduce some of the concepts of the more complicated game.

This is also how you gauge your friends' comfort zone, and how you find your own zone too.

At home and among friends, I'm still working on "gateways to the gateways" - I'd love to play more Ticket to Ride, or actually take the shrinkwrap off of Stone Age, but my family and friends prefer Sequence, Quiddler, Blokus, and Transamerica.

By the way, in my opinion Quiddler, Blokus, and Transamerica are also all really good games and are worth a lot of replay too. Sequence... let's just not talk about it.
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Drew Hicks
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Depends heavily on who is in the particular play group, but for a short answer:

I will always bring medium weight games to any game night because I like to play games. Medium weight games typically have a higher chance of being played and a higher chance of being FINISHED on time. This means even MORE games! Yay!
 
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Aaron Bohm
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CarlG wrote:

This is how I define a gateway game:
1) not too many rules
2) strategy can be discerned after at most a couple plays
3) shorter play time
Poll
Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or and end in themselves?
Means to an end (Let's play Agricola already!)
An ends in themselves (Settlers anyone?)
      142 answers
Poll created by CarlG



While you've probably done a better job than most at giving a definition of what you are looking for, I still think your poll is problematic.

For one, I see gateway games as more than games that are simple to learn and play, playing in a relatively short amount of time. Party games like Apples to Apples for example fall into this category but aren't necessarily gateway games.

While I do agree with you that gateway games tend to be the light-middle weight games, welterweight games if you will, I also think there should be some inclusion to the fact that true gateway games introduce certain game designs and mechanics to a crowd otherwise unfamiliar to them, easing them into a hobby that uses those mechanics in a more complicated fasion. Simply getting non-gamers to play a game can be easy, pull out Liars Dice or Scene It and everyone has a good time. But beyond that one experience, the same crowd isn't necessarily "learning" anything or experiencing anything new.

Gateway games specifically focus on lower luck and strategic gameplay, introduce victory point winning and mechanics like bidding, trading, area control, worker placement, etc. usually intruging new players toward wanting to discover similar games. I believe this is an important distinction for your poll.

The other question is what does "end" entail. "A means to an end" and "end themselves," while clever word play, doesn't give us a whole lot to go on. "A means to an end" implies that we, the geek community, would use these games solely for the purpose of getting new potential gamers interested in the hobby and once they've "warmed up" we move them right along. "An end themselves" almost sounds like we stop there, caring for no other games than these for enjoyment. If that is the case I'd almost say I'm neither of these, rather that there are a lot of games, ranging in "weight," that I like to play and picking any specific game has more to do with my mood and what group I'm with than anything else.
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Jeff Forbes

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CarlG wrote:
Hi all! I see some people talk about gateway games in the context of hoping to one day get potential gamers past these gateway games to more meatier games. However, in my case gateway games are the target in themselves!

This is how I define a gateway game:

1) not too many rules
2) strategy can be discerned after at most a couple plays
3) shorter play time

The reason this is desirable for me is that I mainly game with casual gamers. I desire real competition in my gaming experiences and if games strongly favor experienced players I will not find this competition I desire. Instead I like games where a reasonably bright person can see the different mechanisms of a game and come up with strategies after a relatively short amount of time.

Now some people limit the term "gateway" to light games. But I have found that according to my definition it is more like light-medium games. Games that I have that meet my definition(in my experience with nongamers/newbies) are: Settlers, Stone Age, Alhambra, Ticket to Ride, Strasbourg, Macao, and El Grande. Now if any of you happen to look at the comments section of my games you will notice that I own a pretty good win/loss record especially with these last 3 games that many would not consider "gateways" games. However, I have found that the competition level was fairly competitive for these games with other people being close to winning when I finally won(and I could also see the learning curve jump dramatically from game to game).

So those are my thoughts! Now to a couple of polls:

This is the same poll twice. The difference is this first poll is using my definition of gateway (including games like Strasbourg, Macao and El Grande) whereas the second is using the more commonly understood usage of gateway (lighter games with a max weight of around 2.7).

According to my defintion of "gateway":
Poll
Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or an end in themselves?
A means to an end (Let's play Agricola already!)
An end in themselves (Settlers anyone?)
      176 answers
Poll created by CarlG


According to the BGG consensus definition of "gateway":

Poll
Are "Gateway" games a means to an end or and end in themselves?
Means to an end (Let's play Agricola already!)
An ends in themselves (Settlers anyone?)
      142 answers
Poll created by CarlG



C) Not relevant to me in any significant way
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Jonathan Tullsen
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The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.
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I just realized that you can vote on the quoted polls and it will count for the real polls up above. Did everyone except me already know this?
 
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David C
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How is Macao gateway, and Agricola not...according to your first poll?
 
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Carl Garber
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I've never actually played Agricola, but as I was researching it it seemed quite a bit more complex than Macao. In a thread I asked people to compare Agricola to Puerto Rico in terms of weight and most people said Agricola was a step harder than Puerto Rico. I have found that Puerto Rico has been a borderline game for people to grasp(some noobs do and some don't) whereas Macao has been grasped by most people by the end of their first play or two(with Macao I see a two step progress: step 1 avoid punishment markers by learning to select cards and dice properly, step two - explore the different ways to get points and find a strategy). I am hesitant to bring out PR to newbies whereas I will introduce Macao to most anyone. Since I have been led to believe Agricola is a step weightier than PR I thought it would be a good example of a well loved heavier game that is outside my definition of gateway.

Of course this is all my own perception that you may well disagree with but hopefully this explains decently clearly where I am coming from
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Doug Click
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Game play for "us" is all about relaxing. I have to think enough while at work as a financial analyst, trying to figure out returns on investments and "if we do this, what will happen to that" scenarios. Alesia is a bank manager.

When we get home the last thing we want to do is recreate our jobs analyzing the best moves to make in a game with an abundance of choices.

So, we always play light games with easy rules. "Gateway" games is where we stop...
 
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Doug Click
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CarlG wrote:
... Agricola...
My group hated Agricola; it just had too much going on. It is a pretty deep game as far as analyzing what works best for your particular farm.

Puerto Rico was enjoyed however. I was able to print out the necessary rules onto one page. Everyone read over how the game was played in about ten minutes and off we went…

Never played Macao
 
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David C
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CarlG wrote:
I've never actually played Agricola, but as I was researching it it seemed quite a bit more complex than Macao. In a thread I asked people to compare Agricola to Puerto Rico in terms of weight and most people said Agricola was a step harder than Puerto Rico. I have found that Puerto Rico has been a borderline game for people to grasp(some noobs do and some don't) whereas Macao has been grasped by most people by the end of their first play or two(with Macao I see a two step progress: step 1 avoid punishment markers by learning to select cards and dice properly, step two - explore the different ways to get points and find a strategy). I am hesitant to bring out PR to newbies whereas I will introduce Macao to most anyone. Since I have been led to believe Agricola is a step weightier than PR I thought it would be a good example of a well loved heavier game that is outside my definition of gateway.

Of course this is all my own perception that you may well disagree with but hopefully this explains decently clearly where I am coming from


For me, gateway must be grasped by the end of the first or second turn. You're allowed a good deal of depth, as few games are ever fully grasped... but this idea of 1st or 2nd play is as 'gateway' as Twilight Imperium.

Likewise, look at the weights
Macao: 3.1
Strasbourg: 2.8
El Grande: 3.1
Agricola 3.6
Ticket to Ride: 1.7

Macao is a helluva lot closer to Agricola than Ticket to Ride, I'll say that much.
 
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Carl Garber
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Yeah, Agricola is definately a try before I buy sort of game. I think it will strongly favor the more experienced player.

Puerto Rico works with many groups, I think what is hard for some is getting their head around what picking a certain role means to the game as well as all the buildings one can get. Almost too much options for some people.

Macao is not a game for everyone, but if you are a friend of mine you can almost bank on playing it at sometime There are alot of cards that do alot of different things that might scare people off. But ultimately the only cards you have to deal with are the 6 that you have to choose from each round. Because the game is dice driven, and the cards that come up are from a large draw pile ( I think you only use about 3/4 of the cards in a 4 player game) the game is really tactical in dealing with the dice rolls and cards that come up and making the best of them for yourself(even though everyone has the same options of cards and dice, once choices are made it effects what you do dramatically meaning each persons situation will vary dramatically depending on what cards/dice come in to play). If you like tactical games where you have to make the best of your options; If you like puzzles in your games where you have to figure out what choices are best; If you like high replayability due to different combinations of factors each game(the cards and dice) then give this game a try. I will say that it looks more complicated than it is though. If it is explained well, though, most people will know what is going on by the end of their first turn, and will start to see strategy half way through or by the end of their first game(both things that I highly desire in a game).

Happy Gaming!
 
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Marcel
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jforbes wrote:

C) Not relevant to me in any significant way

this.

To me gateway games are not a separate class off game. '

Gateway games do not exist, only possible gateway games.
They are any game that can be used to get people into the gaming hobby. This makes by definitioon practically every game a potential gateway game.
 
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Carl Garber
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bippi: For me there is two levels of grasp. The first is seeing how things work together and the second is how those things could work together for your benefit(aka strategy). For me I found Macao to be similar to Settlers in that regard. I got how Settlers worked after the first round but I didn't see some of the strategy of it until the end of that first game. My learning curve with every game of Settlers grew just as it has with Macao. That fast learning curve is what I am referring to. Of course you will have better strategy with more experience but if you can't see that strategy after 1 game then it is not a gateway.

This, again, is my experience with Macao and those I have introduced it to but maybe your experience doesn't mirror mine.

EDIT:

A game's strategy needs to be seen by the end of the first game for it to be a gateway in that if it isn't seen then people will likely not want to play it again.
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Glen
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Jarrow
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I own and have only played what would be considered Gateway games, and I recently started doing some research into Agricola as a first attempt at buying something more complex. Having watched a couple of videos and listened to the how to play podcast, I found myself thinking "why was I so worried... this sounds simpler than I expected". Now I'm sure once I sit down with the rules in front of me it might well be a different story altogether, but I think I'm going to take the risk and purchase it. If it goes down like a lead balloon, it won't lose much of its value to sell anyway.

To me it seems like a good next-step game to try with the actual designing of a farm going on in front of the player with animeeples (which I will buy). I think it'll be better received than something like Puerto Rico which looks a little more dry. I'll get around to it though; fortunately my gaming group seem willing to sit down and learn a game. I'm not forcing anything upon them.
 
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Ryan Bretsch
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A good gateway game allows the following:

1. has a relative simplicity of play and learning the game is easy.
2. has a strategic element to it, but not too deep.
3. has a fun theme, fun artwork and a toy factor to the components.
4. has enough of a luck element to it to keep the game fresh and new for each playing. And it gives everyone a chance to win. Still, the person who plays the best and most skillfully should win about 80% of the time.
5. is social and creates interaction among the players. Constructs a story.
6. has an "old-school feel" that fits right in with casual game playing guests.
7. does not have a Eurogame feel. Minimizes wood and cubes.

Examples of Good Gateway Games

Ticket to Ride
Scotland Yard
Mystery of the Abbey
Pirates Cove
Lifeboats
Cargo Noir
Mystery Express
A Dog's Life
Clue: The Great Museum Caper
Survive!
Clue!
Monopoly (played by the official rules)

 
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Guido Gloor
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Ostermundigen
Bern
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The statement above is correct.
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I don't buy into this whole "gateway" thing, I think it's a myth. There are games that are better-suited to some people's tastes, but that doesn't mean that somebody who plays TtR will suddenly start looking for heavier fare by necessity. Conversely, somebody who could be really intrigued by TI3 doesn't need to play a lighter game first.

(Sure, it helps to put things in context and learning rules goes faster with a broader background, and many people do move upwards in game complexity over the years, but that doesn't make some kinds of games better for everybody who hasn't played many games yet.)

The consequence of this is, of course, that both of your definitions of "gateway games" are an end in themselves, exactly as much or as little as all other games are, too.
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