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Subject: Why do game boxes talk almost entirely about the theme... rss

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James Hutchings
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...when theme doesn't tell you much about whether you'd like the game?

This seems to be true even for more 'gamer's games'.
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Ken Waters
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Perhaps for the majority of people the theme will determine whether they'd like the game? "Hey look, University of Oklahoma Monopoly, we so gotta get that!"
 
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Rich Shipley
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If I'm browsing closed boxes, I always look for a picture of the actual game board (or equivalent). The text is not usually helpful at all.
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Andrew Walters
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I think those of us who would like to read "a worker placement game with a dutch auction for player order and triangular scoring" are far outnumbered by people who are enticed by "Be the Space Pharoah and try to ship your goods to market before the ice harvest."

James Ernest once said that theme is why you try the game, mechanics are why you play it again. The game companies believe, and I think they're right, that theme sells. It's an imperfect world. Luckily there's BGG.
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Ed G.
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Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
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Caleb Martin

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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design
Re: Why do game boxes talk almost entirely about the theme...
D-Rider wrote:
Perhaps for the majority of people the theme will determine whether they'd like the game? "Hey look, University of Oklahoma Monopoly, we so gotta get that!"


Yeah, I would imagine almost all of the people buying board games in a store fall into one of three camps:

1. Just your average person who doesn't know much about games, but is looking for something fun (for their kids?). For this person (the majority of the people in any retail store!), they're basing their purchase basically entirely on theme and looks. They don't want to read that step 6a of your turn is to decide how many green cubes to trade in for cards, they want to know that their genetically enhanced supersoldiers are laying the smackdown on some some awesome-looking aliens, or that their kids are going to be building a giant cathedral, or whatever.

2. The average person here, who is more of a serious gamer. They're not buying games blindly anyway -- before dropping $20-80 on a new game, they're going to research how it plays, read a few reviews to see how they like the mechanics, check out some pictures of the components, etc, all before even walking into the store. They don't need to read about game mechanics on the box since they already know what they're buying, and a nifty-looking box is fun to have on your shelf.

3. Somewhere in between -- they heard from their gamer friend that this game is really fun, so they go to a store and take it off the shelf. Theme sells it to them, and if they wanted to know more about it before they bought it, they'd just ask their friend what it was like. Most likely, their friend already knows what sorts of games they like to play, so it doesn't matter anyway.

In short, the people who care most about game mechanics don't need to read it on the box, and the people that care most about game theme don't need to read about mechanics on the box. Since there are far, far more of the latter camp, market the game to them and the former camp will buy it anyway if it's up their alley.
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Sean Shaw
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For some of us, mechanics may make the game fun, but it's the theme that makes it worthwhile!
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The one and only (but one of two in BGG)
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Where do I find one of these talking game boxes? Mine never say a word.
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Dan
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I'm a heavy board gamer, and I still buy games based on the theme.
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Larry Thorne

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I strictly buy based on probability they go out of print. Then sell for a huge return on EBay. Then repeat. devil
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Grigg Lumbermanson
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"trade cubes for other cubes of different colors" just doesnt sell as well.
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Liam Liam
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I try to read the rules prior to buying and definitely will have done the research dance on BGG. I don't think I've ever read the back of a game box...
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Cameron McKenzie
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People actually read the box??
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kSwingrÜber
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Where do I find one of these talking game boxes? Mine never say a word.


You, sir, needs must experience ye olde elusive "flatulus bocium" (box fart).
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Stephen Keller
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I don't think I've really ever looked at the back of a game box. I buy games based on ridiculous amounts of online research. I keep costs down by doing bulk orders from out of town businesses. When I receive my box of 6 to 12 games I dive right in and start opening the games up and start popping out all the cardboard and counting all the components. Once the box is open there's no need to ever look at the bottom.

Hmm, considering that I've never seen the bottom of a game box is it actually safe to assume that there is one? Oh well, I guess I'll never know.

Anyways, to the question, theme sells boardgames. Even abstract games typically need something slapped onto them to give them a hope in hell of selling. If the back of the box were to list the phases in a game, possibly looking like a quick reference sheet of rules, I don't think you'd attract many "normal" people. Themes get people's attention.
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Cameron McKenzie
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I can just imagine meticulously organizing all of my game bits in the box, then someone at a party grabbing the box and turning it over to read the text on the bottom. When I open the box later, I might find that the bits have gone everywhere!

These days I toss the insert and bag everything though, so not so much a problem.
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Joe Mucchiello
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monkeyhandz wrote:
I try to read the rules prior to buying and definitely will have done the research dance on BGG. I don't think I've ever read the back of a game box...

Exactly. Who read's the box?
MasterDinadan wrote:
People actually read the box??

Actually, the implication is that people buy the game based on reading the box. Inconceivable!
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Ethan Larson
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I knew someone who loved to play warcraft II, but would not play Starcraft, because they could not identify with the aliens. Theme is VERY important to some people.
 
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Jay L
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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I hate abstract. I don't want to do something abstract, I want to do something themed. Not just any theme, but a particular theme. I want to make money. If you call it victory points, I do not want it, nor do I know why anyone would. But call it money, and suddenly, I am compelled to play this game, no matter how pasted on the theme is... then, talk about trading or pricing and I'm yours. Supply and demand sensitive markets? Let's play! Building a cathedral in a way that makes you impressive in the eyes of some King? Not so much. Even though the same economic principles may be being applied.

So I want to read about the theme, because I want to know what I'll feel like I'm doing in the game... for example, BuyWord. I'm making words out of letters, buying and selling them in order to make the most money in my wordy business. That's awesome. Who would want to play Scrabble, where all you get is POINTS, when you can sell words at a profit?
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Stefan Alexander
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Iranon wrote:
In short, the people who care most about game mechanics don't need to read it on the box, and the people that care most about game theme don't need to read about mechanics on the box. Since there are far, far more of the latter camp, market the game to them and the former camp will buy it anyway if it's up their alley.


I agree 100%, I think you nailed it.

I think the "taglines" are the worst part. I just played Through the Desert over the weekend, and noticed the front of the box:



I quite liked the picture. I didn't care for the game. I think the tagline is especially hilarious. While there were caravans, and desert oases, I'd re-write it as:

"A game with caravans and oases", or even better:

"A game with plastic camels and palm trees".
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Jay L
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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How about, a Game of Scoring Points for mildly thematic reasons?
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kSwingrÜber
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s2alexan wrote:
... Through the Desert...

"A game with caravans and oases", or even better:

"A game with plastic camels and palm trees".


Or how about: A game as bland as its colors.

 
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Stefan Alexander
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Jythier wrote:
How about, a Game of Scoring Points for mildly thematic reasons?


kswingruber wrote:
Or how about: A game as bland as its colors.


I like these even better - especially the second one. I might just change my rating comment to that

Is there a geeklist where we re-write the taglines to popular games to make them more accurate? That would be hilarious...
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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kswingruber wrote:
s2alexan wrote:
... Through the Desert...

"A game with caravans and oases", or even better:

"A game with plastic camels and palm trees".


Or how about: A game as bland as its colors.



The colors are quite pleasant.
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David Sims
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apeloverage wrote:
...when theme doesn't tell you much about whether you'd like the game?

This seems to be true even for more 'gamer's games'.


Because 95% of our purchasing decisions are based on emotion. Theme invokes emotion.
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