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Subject: The surge in production of Thematic games in the last ten years rss

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Elstree
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patton1138 wrote:
The first graph is really only useful when somehow compared to the growth of the overall industry. (E.g., it may be that thematic games have a growth rate behind that of the industry.)


Exactly. Boardgaming as a hobby has exploded in the past ten years. All the graph really shows is that thematic games have been a part of that wave. Have they also increased as a proportion of all games produced? We can't tell from this graph.

dbucak wrote:
The "Growth in Quality" may simply reflect the cult of the new. Newer games tend to get higher rankings than older games.


I'm a bit confused on how the graph was constructed, but I gather that the current top 100 thematic games have been tallied up by year of publication.

We can't tell if quality has been improving over time from such a graph. From the first graph we see that the number of thematic games produced each year has been increasing over time. Even if there were no change in quality over time we would still expect there to be more games from more recent years represented in the top 100 simply because there were more games published in those years.

If we really wanted to see if quality had been improving over time we'd want to compare something like the average rating of all thematic games released in each year. Or, if we believe that the improvement has really been confined to the better games (because, let's face it, there's always going to be a lot of slop at the bottom) we might compare the ratings of the single best thematic game for each year, or the average of the best five thematic games for each year.

However, even if we were to calculate something like that we'd still end up with a "cult of the new" bias. For whatever reason, people tend to revise their ratings downward over time (perhaps reflecting an increased perception of a game's flaws with repeated play, or just a feeling that one doesn't like the game as much as some newer acquisition).

These data are suggestive, but by no means conclusive.
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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Elstree wrote:
Boardgaming as a hobby has exploded in the past ten years.

Has it? Where are your stats? Please add them.
Quote:
I'm a bit confused on how the graph was constructed, but I gather that the current top 100 thematic games have been tallied up by year of publication.

Correct.

Quote:
We can't tell if quality has been improving over time from such a graph. From the first graph we see that the number of thematic games produced each year has been increasing over time. Even if there were no change in quality over time we would still expect there to be more games from more recent years represented in the top 100 simply because there were more games published in those years.

Were there? What is your source of this statement? What is the % produced in the last 10 years? Were 2/3rds of boardgames produced in the last 10 years? No.
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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Elstree wrote:
If we really wanted to see if quality had been improving over time we'd want to compare something like the average rating of all thematic games released in each year. Or, if we believe that the improvement has really been confined to the better games (because, let's face it, there's always going to be a lot of slop at the bottom) we might compare the ratings of the single best thematic game for each year, or the average of the best five thematic games for each year.

However, even if we were to calculate something like that we'd still end up with a "cult of the new" bias. For whatever reason, people tend to revise their ratings downward over time (perhaps reflecting an increased perception of a game's flaws with repeated play, or just a feeling that one doesn't like the game as much as some newer acquisition).

I like this idea. I'm not sure the "cult of the new bias" is that big though.
But we could look at the overall Top 100 as a comparision and see how many of those were published in the last ten years (just checked and this is 79%). This is against 66% of Thematic games. So actually there is more of a cult of the new/high quality bias in the overall Top 100.

I'd like to see stats on all ranked games though....
 
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Steven Mitchell
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1000rpm wrote:
Elstree wrote:
Boardgaming as a hobby has exploded in the past ten years.

Has it? Where are your stats? Please add them.


Asking for stats on this strikes me as annoyingly pedantic. I think it's pretty clearly the case that boardgaming as a hobby has been on a marked uptick in the past decade.
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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patton1138 wrote:
1000rpm wrote:
Elstree wrote:
Boardgaming as a hobby has exploded in the past ten years.

Has it? Where are your stats? Please add them.


Asking for stats on this strikes me as annoyingly pedantic. I think it's pretty clearly the case that boardgaming as a hobby has been on a marked uptick in the past decade.

You are kidding, right? I'm having my fairly detailed numerical analysis critiqued/dismissed on the basis that "boardging has exploded", with no evidence to back that statement up.
I'm actually interested if there are real numbers to support the comment.
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Brian McCormick
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1000rpm wrote:
However, even if we were to calculate something like that we'd still end up with a "cult of the new" bias.

I do think there is a "cult of the new" bias, but moreso there is a "cult of the theme" bias. It is a demonstratable fact that BGG's userbase is heavily slanted toward thematic games, whether these games are Euro or Ameritrash or some mix between. The more abstracted a game becomes, the more BGG ignores it.

Case in point: the Gipf series. This series is one of the biggest contributions to boardgaming in the past dozen-or-so years. Yet, only one of its games can be found in the Top 100. On the other hand, we have two copies of the same thematic game (War of the Ring)....actually, full stop: we have four LotR games in the Top 100. One of them came out this year and has already skyrocketed to the #51 slot. That's a red flag to me. A quick glance over the Top 100 and we see theme, theme, and more theme. I used to think this was due to a "cult of the designer" (for instance, two Uwe Rosenburg games in the Top 10), but I realize it boils down to theme.

The more theme you add, the more popular your game will be, regardless of what gameplay mechanics are included.
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Steven Mitchell
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1000rpm wrote:
patton1138 wrote:
1000rpm wrote:
Elstree wrote:
Boardgaming as a hobby has exploded in the past ten years.

Has it? Where are your stats? Please add them.


Asking for stats on this strikes me as annoyingly pedantic. I think it's pretty clearly the case that boardgaming as a hobby has been on a marked uptick in the past decade.

You are kidding, right? I'm having my fairly detailed numerical analysis critiqued/dismissed on the basis that "boardging has exploded", with no evidence to back that statement up.
I'm actually interested if there are real numbers to support the comment.


I wasn't dismissing your graph. But if you want to make a statement like the one you're trying to make, you need a control group. You offer no control. The lack of a control in your claim is only exacerbated by the fact that popular perception suggests that the control group would affect your conclusion.
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Ken B.
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Quote:
It is a demonstratable fact that BGG's userbase is heavily slanted toward thematic games, whether these games are Euro or Ameritrash or some mix between.



YES!!! WE WON!!!



I agree with the assessment about abstracts...I own a tiny handful, and I don't feel like I really need more than that. I do have several games that could be (charitably) dubbed "lightly dusted" with theme, and I prefer that--I actually appreciate the effort of adding *some* kind of theme to what I'm playing.
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Tony Ackroyd
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A quick bit of data analysis later.
I extracted a fair chunk of BGG data for the top games. This includes most of the Top 1000 (857 of them), and 1267 ranked games in all. This is a mixture of all subdomains.
I'm going to take it as a representative sample of ranked games.

64% were published in the last ten years (well, 2001-2010 ignoring 2011 to compare with the Thematic games). This pretty much supports the statement that "boardgaming has exploded", I guess and is very close to the 67% of (ranked) Thematics produced.

Since 2004, 50% of this sample were produced (52% Thematic).
Since 2007, 31% of this sample were produced (32% Thematic).

Hmmm... so maybe my thread should have been title "the surge in production of boardgames in the last ten years"....!
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Elstree
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1000rpm wrote:
A quick bit of data analysis later.
I extracted a fair chunk of BGG data for the top games. This includes most of the Top 1000 (857 of them), and 1267 ranked games in all. This is a mixture of all subdomains.
I'm going to take it as a representative sample of ranked games.

64% were published in the last ten years (well, 2001-2010 ignoring 2011 to compare with the Thematic games). This pretty much supports the statement that "boardgaming has exploded", I guess and is very close to the 67% of (ranked) Thematics produced.

Since 2004, 50% of this sample were produced (52% Thematic).
Since 2007, 31% of this sample were produced (32% Thematic).

Hmmm... so maybe my thread should have been title "the surge in production of boardgames in the last ten years"....!


Thanks for doing this additional analysis, Tony. This captures what Steven and I were getting at: Your first graph demonstrated an increase in the absolute number of thematic games produced, but whether this represents a relative increase (i.e. as a percentage of all games) requires information on the production of all games. Your analysis here suggests thematic games have more or less been riding the same production wave as other board games.

Given that more games were produced in more recent years it stands to reason that they should be represented in greater numbers in the second graph, even if there hasn't been any change in quality from year to year.

My sense is that you're actually right and the quality of thematic games has been improving, but to address this we'd need to look at something like changes in average ratings over time. If I knew how to query the BGG database directly, this would be relatively easy to look at. I don't know php/perl, but the sql would look something like this:

SELECT Games.Year, Avg(Games.Rating) AS AvgOfRating
FROM Games
WHERE (((Games.Subdomain)="Thematic"))
GROUP BY Games.Year
ORDER BY Games.Year;


Does anyone know how to query the BGG database directly?
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Tony Ackroyd
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I should point out that what drove my original thinking about Thematics production exploding and me thinking it was doing so more than other game types was that when I was going my "best by year" geeklists the Thematics one was obviously skewed to having the best games in the last ten years. The other ones I did didn't have this obvious situation. Maybe if I'd done a "Strategy Games" one then I'd have seen the same pattern.
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1000rpm wrote:
A quick bit of data analysis later.
I extracted a fair chunk of BGG data for the top games. This includes most of the Top 1000 (857 of them), and 1267 ranked games in all. This is a mixture of all subdomains.
I'm going to take it as a representative sample of ranked games.

64% were published in the last ten years (well, 2001-2010 ignoring 2011 to compare with the Thematic games). This pretty much supports the statement that "boardgaming has exploded", I guess and is very close to the 67% of (ranked) Thematics produced.

Since 2004, 50% of this sample were produced (52% Thematic).
Since 2007, 31% of this sample were produced (32% Thematic).

Hmmm... so maybe my thread should have been title "the surge in production of boardgames in the last ten years"....!


Tony's graph on thematic games is still, IMHO, quite significant.

Purely anecdotally, the 'explosion' of popularity for Euros was led by Settlers in Germany in the 1990s, leading to other German-style games, Spiel des Jahres, Essen, etc.

The 'rise of Ameritrash' seems to be an somewhat independent phenomenon, with Hasbro, the remarketing of Axis & Allies, Heroscape, the takeoff of Fantasy Flight etc.

Sure, there's some common relation (e.g. BGG starting c. 2000, eventually became a key platform for both types of games), but by and large, until, say 2004-2005 or so, we're talking about different companies, different games conventions, different consumers (both geographical - Europe vs. US/UK/the other Anglophone countries and interest-wise), probably different distribution systems as well.

When did a typical hobby games shop start carrying both multiple Euros and Ameritrash? I'd say that's about time the two streams started to merge together.

Based off my own FLGS (actually mainly a comics/RPG/CCG store), I'd say that had things like Axis & Allies Pacific and Queen's Gambit around 2000, and Settlers by about 2002. Around 2006 they completely rebranded themselves into a games-only store, carrying a wide variety of Euros and Ameritrash.

Put another way, when did you start to have both Euros and Wargames/Ameritrash in your personal collection? For me it wasn't until about 2007.
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Tony Ackroyd
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Finally got around to setting up the final of the contest that inspired this:
[POLLS] Best Thematic Games of the Decades RESULTS and Best Thematic Game Ever Poll
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fightcitymayor wrote:
i dunno, i might call it "the fall and rise, and fall" of Thematic games. if the era of cheap Chinese manufacturing is indeed coming to an end then we may see the golden age of Ameritrash go with it.

Look at all of the collectible minis games that petered out because the manufacturing costs were too high to profit from.

Look at FFG proclaiming Battlelore "too expensive to reprint."

Look at FFG reconfiguring the Dust Tactics base set to include less figs.

I see FFG reverting back to just mono-colored minis and reduced production values in order to deal with the rising costs. So before long we may all be back to cardboard standees with little plastic bases before long, like in the olden days.

Yeah, I'm afraid the future looks pretty bleak.
Look at Doom: The Board Game and compare it to Gears of War: The latter has a very small number of plastic miniatures. They even made matching rules that require just a very small number of miniatures.
And the worst: Some Locusts have to be represented by miniatures that were designed for other Locusts because there are no matching miniatures in the box!
The end is near...
 
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Joanna Griebel
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I think the reason War of the Ring the Collector's Edition is ranked higher in theme than War of the Ring is not because its more expensive, but that the components - larger board, painted miniatures - create an even richer experience from which to play the game. It pulls you into the world of the game more - making it a stronger thematic game.

Also... has there been a growth in the amount of Strategy games produced? It might not just be Thematic games, but perhaps the industry itself exploded?

But if it has been just Thematic games that have increased, then maybe it's because they look more appealing, have a higher production value, and are more accessible (well thematically accessible, not necessarily accessible as far as rules since 40 page rulebooks can be a bit daunting!)... Its similar to a hollywood blockbuster film vs a small independent film. The blockbusters (typically) bring in a lot more money.


vs


Also, as a gamer who plays and purchases mostly thematic/ameritrash games over strategic/eurogames, I can say when looking at a game box, say Agricola vs. Arkham Horror, the artwork and visual design and components are sooo much more appealing to look at and handle in Arkham! I love Agricola, but I love it with the goodies expansion where the cows are shaped like cows. Agricola with blocks and generic shapes is not visually appealing to me and it doesn't draw me into the game. I think Agricola is a really good thematic game if you include the goodies expansion. Without it, it feels too abstract and it becomes more about the mechanics of the game instead of drawing you into the world and experience of the characters in the game.

What I love most about gaming is feeling like I am experiencing the game through my character. My favorite thematic games are the ones with a nicely designed and painted character sheet, with specific traits for that character that make them unique to play with. The game itself also needs to be fun and challenging of course... a beautiful game with terrible mechanics is not a game I would like to play or buy.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on why there has been a big boom in the production of thematic games.
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