Lowell Kempf(Gnomekin)United States
A recent geeklist that served as a retrospective of the past few years of game culture (http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/146621/musings-of-a-curmud... ) made the observation that the Euro school of game design has shifted away from simple rule sets to more complicated ones and that theme has become more noticeable, if not more actually realized.
(Mind you, there is a definite difference between complexity and depth. Go, as the uber-example, has an insanely simple rule set and is mind-boggling deep.)
I don’t know if this is really true but I do know that it sometimes feels that way, particularly when you look at what games are trendy on this site.
After musing on the matter for a while, I decided that what has happened over the last ten years is evolution. While the community saw Euro games and Ameritrash games as two separate beasts, designers and publishers saw them as part of the same pool of concepts and inspiration.
After all, Fantasy Flight could be considered the poster child of Ameritrash with monster titles like Arkham Horror and Twilight Imperium but they are also the American publishers of Euro classics like Citadels or Colossal Arena or Ingenious. Obviously, as a publishers, they don’t care about labels. They are all about sales and good games. The community may have drawn a line in the sand but the industry didn’t.
I remember when Hellas was considered to be a hybrid of war game and Euro. The mechanics of the game and the feel of the game are very much in the Euro camp but the game is also about war and conquest. (Okay, and exploration) These days, it would be labeled as a straight Euro but at the time, it was something different.
On the other side of the line, while no one, even at the time, would have argued that Nexus Ops has always been in the Ameritrash camp. However, when it came out, many of its keys elements were ones that were (reasonably or unreasonably) associated with Euros, like hidden goals and a variable board and effectively no player elimination (since the game ends if a player is eliminated) These days, those are mechanics that don’t have any particular association.
In some ways, things really haven’t changed. The real goal of designers and companies is to make games that folks will buy and play. However, perhaps the commuting is mellowing out in how it labels games and perhaps developers are refining game design while ignoring labels.