John OwenUnited States
Today, I found out that it is common where I live for a tied Tic-Tac-Toe game to be called a "cat's game". Common to the extent that six people in the room knew about this and only two of us had never heard the term before. Neither one of us grew up in upstate NY or had parents that grew up in upstate NY. So, I'm convinced that this is a widespread regional thing, to call a tie a Cat's Game and to draw a 'C' over the board.
Poll: "Kit-Cat-Cannio" Trying to figure out how widespread this thing is.
Edit: If you answered cat's game, I'd love it if you also comment and tell me where you're from!
Just another bgg blog about playing games.
Archive for Fools tread in...
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29 Jun 2023
I recently rated my 1,000th game on boardgamegeek.
To celebrate, I'm going to slowly re-rate all of the games I've already rated according to the following scale:
10 - I love this game and want to keep playing it for the rest of my life. I've also logged at least two dozen plays on BGG.
8 - I love this game and/or am currently infatuated with it. I still haven't played it at least two dozen times. I want to get to know it better and I'm probably the one suggesting to play it.
6 - This is a good game and I like it. I could easily be talked into playing it.
5 - This is a good game and it's not for me. It would take a little work to convince me to play, but most of the time I'd still say yes to a play.
3 - This is not a good game and not for me, but I could probably still be talked into playing it because I'm a sucker. Even so, you'll probably have to beg or the circumstances must be exactly right.
1 - I hate this game and never want to play it again.
This six point system seems to make sense to me and tracks onto how I've already been thinking about games.
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There have been 3 unsubscribers in the past week as I've put up quick posts about the public domain, songs, and eliminating kickstarter. There's a contrary part of me that is happy about this.
I don't even want to track these things, but BGG makes me aware of the subscriber count every time I log into my dashboard.
This is your one and only chance to distance yourself from my perverse associations with necrophilia (start your own rumors). These associations are probably only related to my appreciation for a single Norm Macdonald bit in which he maintains that he's better than all that, but even so, you can't be too careful.
You're here for games talk?
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Once again, I wrote a comment that grew too large (and a little bit too off-topic) for the thread in which I was responding.trawlerman wrote:I've been thinking about this some more.Shobu1701 wrote:What would include the "traditional" term?My criteria would be:
0. Dates don't matter.
1. Designed by (Uncredited) (though some exceptions exist).
2. In the public domain.
3. Uses a "traditional" deck (any widely produced "standard" deck that has ever been widely used. 32-card decks, 36-card decks, 40-card decks, 52-card decks, tarot decks, double, triple, quadruple decks, etc.)
3a. I would automatically disqualify Rook for its being copyrighted and its attempt to insist that it can only be played with a special custom commercial deck.
0. Dates don't matter. This stands as is.
1. and 2.
Designed by Uncredited. In the public domain
I don't think this matters as much as I want it to, at least in the simplified way I've written it above. There's no doubt in my mind that David Parlett and Sean Ross and others are designing "traditional" games. So, "traditional" must mean something more than age, having an unknown designer, and not having a copyright slapped on a rules document.
But I still think that what makes a game a successful widely played traditional game is, in some sense, some sort of death of the author and an ignoring of any claim to copyright. David Parlett's website is copyrighted. That means that every time I printed off a rules page from that site, I was breaking the law. I was insisting that I had a right to print my own copy regardless of the copyright claim. I didn't do it, but I also would have had no problem printing rules and distributing them to others. I don't think that Parlett would have a problem with me printing the rules, but his claim to copyright is an assertion otherwise. It's this holding on to control in any limited sense that gives me some reservation about these being traditional games, that makes me want to suggest that these "invented games" fall just shy of traditional, because they are not fully let loose into the world.
Regardless, like any Hoyle before me, I could rewrite the rules even to any Parlett game and publish them in my own words. This is how "Hoyle" has done things for a long, long time. [Please don't take this to mean me suggesting that we should not give designers/inventors credit. I think we should. If the designer is alive, I think we should also show the designer some deference and ask permission before including their rules in any sort of published book meant to make a profit.]
Maybe the simple answer to the question, "Is this traditional?" is another question: "Could this be printed in a 2023 edition of According to Hoyle?" without a lawsuit or hard feelings?
I suspect that "traditional" rules need to be internalized and able to be transmitted orally and this needs to happen regularly and repeatedly.
It doesn't matter that Harold Vanderbilt tweaked the Bridge rules to his liking and then spent a bunch of money hosting a tournament with his rules to popularize those rules. What matters is that those rules were popular and they were adopted; alternate ways of playing Bridge still existed and these variations were still in some sense recognizably Bridge (a game in the Whist family with certain shared features). I think that it was widely known that Vanderbilt was behind some tweaks that became standard. I don't think that any Hoyle type books decided they had to ask his permission to print contract bridge rules (any more than they felt they had to ask permission to use the Hoyle moniker).
Something shifted in the last fifty years, almost certainly as a result of the rise of the "designer game" and designers' getting their names on game boxes (not to mention a general rise in everything being copyrighted, rights reserved, etc, into the future for as long as possible). Designers getting recognized has been great in some sense. I think it's good for designers to get a fair wage and not just let a big publishing house get away with owning the copyright without paying them. It has allowed for bargaining and better contracts. It has allowed for a small handful of designers to make a living designing games and allowed for a few more publishers to make a living publishing games. In the meantime, most involved still do this as a hobby, something that drains more time and money than it provides, while the big publishers continue to cash in on the popular earlier games that they don't have to pay anyone for anymore.
I don't know. I'm rambling, writing trying to figure out what I think of this through writing.
A "traditional" card game is any game using a recognizably historic common deck with rules that can be internalized and shared orally without permission from anyone else. The extent to which modern "invented games" will become solidly "traditional" relies on a community's feeling of freedom to share the game without any restraints.
These are all just exploratory thoughts. Feel free to push back and yell at me or whatever.
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Pushing back at Chris' post a little more.
Chris, please take all of this in a spirit of charity and friendship. I'd love to sit down and play cards with you someday and no differences of opinion that we have here changes that fact.
Let's say I go in my home library right now, skip over my shelves of printed books, grab my laptop, open a browser, head to Power Moby-Dick, then click on "Chapter 1". Then I read aloud the first sentence to a group of friends and we all take turns reading that first sentence. Call me Ishmael.
Did my group of friends and I just read the first sentence of Moby-Dick? Or would reading the first sentence of Moby-Dick involve reading a printed version of the book?
My answer is that of course everyone here has just read the first sentence of Moby-Dick. You have if you're reading this. Call me Ishmael. You just read it again. And the follow-up answer is that of course this reading experience is different.
I wrote an entire post a while ago about how finding the right printed edition of Moby-Dick at the right time in my life changed how I approached the book. This applies to games. I love the Simpsons (early seasons) and I love chess. I hate Simpsons chess sets. I love classic standardized Staunton sets. What would be weird to me is insisting that one edition/instantiation of Moby-Dick is the "real" one and all the rest are somehow not Moby-Dick. Or that chess with Staunton pieces is the only real chess. I have clear opinions on which editions/sets are better than others, opinions based on objective criteria, but just because one thing is better than another or because I prefer one thing to another does not mean that the other thing is not also recognizably an instance of the thing itself.
Chris loves physical media, physical stuff. So do I. Let's shift the examples from games and books to movies, an art form that I love.
I love the theater experience. I love projected film. Both of these things are going the way of the dodo.
I've seen a 70mm projection of Lawrence of Arabia. It's a film I respect, but don't love, a film that has plenty of problems, but is nonetheless a perfect example for this conversation. Lawrence of Arabia, if you're going to see it at all, should be seen BIG and it should be seen in the dark with others. I happen to think that this is true of most films, but Lawrence is a great extreme example of something that most people would agree is objectively better one way over the other.
Now, the thing about the theater experience and film projection is that I cannot own it. I can only experience it.
I can buy a DVD or Blu-Ray of the film and watch it at home on a 40" television. I can stream it through HBO Max on my 5" smartphone. In both of these examples, I have seen and experienced Lawrence of Arabia in some meaningful sense, but... it's still not Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm in a dark room full of strangers.
I brought up the film example to push at intended experience vs individual's preferred experience. To bring this to Chris' own game February, Chris' intended experience for himself and for all players of the game is for the game to be played by the rules he has written and played with the deck that he has created with his friend Megan. If someone uses a proxy deck to play February, Chris insists that they have not played February. This is equivalent to arguing that the overwhelming majority of people who have only seen Lawrence of Arabia on a small TV and not on a big screen have never seen Lawrence of Arabia because David Lean intended it to be shown on a large screen and in a different medium (film, not digital).
Games are complicated by the fact that they just are not physical objects alone. They're not. Every game is its rules, for they are what define it. The physical components are the equipment needed to play the game. They are not the game but are necessary items to play the game.
I still do think that the closest thing to playing a game is performing a play. Rules. Script. Both need players to perform.
An old comment of mine:Quote:Games are 'performed' collaboratively. (We could simply say 'played' just as actors are sometimes called 'players'. I do prefer the term 'play' because playing a game is for the sake of the players. Performing a 'play' is most often, maybe always, for the sake of the audience. They're probably out there, but I don't know of any theatre group that does not perform to an audience. I've made the comparison of games to scripts before, in that both require participants to bring the 'text' into reality, but games are a unique media in that they are not simply read, watched, analyzed. They are closest to plays, maybe, but, if so, they are plays performed primarily, almost exclusively, for the players themselves. To be the 'audience' of a game is to be the 'player' of a game.)Hamlet is a play. There are many great printed editions or you can read it online: https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/hamlet/rea...
I could go on YouTube right now and link to at least half a dozen interpretations of Act 1 Scene 1 alone. Different settings. Different props. Different costumes. Different actors. All Hamlet.
Like a game, we intuitively know that the rules alone are not what we love about the game. The game needs to be made alive in some sense by the players. I'll even grant that the "equipment" of the game needs to be fitting to that task, hopefully both beautiful and functional. Just like we can say that one production of Hamlet is better than another production of Hamlet, we can say that one deck of cards is better than another deck of cards, or that the new printing of Babylonia is superior to the old printing of Babylonia.
Bacon immediately became a favorite game of mine. Sean knows that it's a riffing on prior traditional deck climbing games. It's still his design, his riff, his variation on a shared inheritance. It's very much a traditional deck design. It's very much a Sean Ross game. In this instance, we just happen to have the good fortune of being able to credit Uncredited (I knew Uncredited was you all along, Sean!).
Here's my copy of Bacon:
Here are the wilds from that deck:
No one else has this copy of Bacon. Probably no one else wants this copy of Bacon. But it's my copy of Bacon. As Bacon has existed for the past (not-quite-a) year, it has been alive and able to be expressed in any of 1,000+ ways. The AllPlay edition is not some grand achievement of making the One Version, the Official Version That If You Have Not Played Then You Don't Know Bacon.
It is rather a limiting, a narrowing of what Bacon is and can be. It is a locking-in of one, just one, idea of what Bacon can look like.
I think the AllPlay art is cute. I hope it's successful because I want more people playing Bacon. I want more people playing Sean's designs and following his lead in making their own designs.
I want more people to buy Sean more coffee.
If a limited edition deck with breakfast food art is a way to do this, fine. I'm not opposed to it. I'm just happier playing with traditional cards and I wish others could be as well.
The idea that I'm not playing Bacon with the traditional cards (or further, that Sean himself has never played Bacon because he's only played on PCIO) not only strikes me as wrong, as a complete misunderstanding of what games are and what this specific game is, but it also strikes me as slightly offensive, which is why I guess I've taken the time to write all of this up.
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- I love ridiculous challenges with ridiculous restrictions. If you do too, check this out: Design a game based off this comic. I designed a game. It took me longer to write it up than to have the basic idea. I've already written up player aids and I'm planning on playing this incredibly stupid game with my children soon. I won't say it's good. I will guarantee anyone, though, that it will provide more laughs than Gloomhaven and Brass: Birmingham combined. I'm already considering submitting it to the database. If BGG won't accept great traditional games in the public domain, well, at least they're always willing to accept the most atrocious contemporary designs.
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Ignore this one. This is the post in which I respond to an OG Guild thread in response to a Reddit thread. You've been warned.
Here's the start of the OG Discussion: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2936844/article/41650024#41...qwertymartin wrote:This reply in that thread is quite interesting:Yep. That comment caught my attention as well and had me looking back at my own earlier blog attempts at distinguishing folk gaming cultures from commercial gaming cultures. None of it systematic, but bits and thoughts here and there.Quote:My background is in classical music (cellist) and it's the same story, just over a longer timeframe. Steady bifurcation of the field, where the "academic" side rapidly forgot how to enjoy music in the way normal people do. It even went from "player-directed" music to "composer-directed" music paralleling player- to designer-directed games. The music written by academics lost all meaning and familiarity to uninitiated listeners. And its practitioners forgot about their own interaction and improvisation along the way too. Your average performance major with a Master's degree can hardly improvise at all and dislikes having to play from memory. Jazz sort of rekindled the life spirit, and then went through a bifurcation of its own. The same pattern happens everywhere. Art, poetry, etc. Haute cuisine. Look at the modern specialty coffee industry. A lot of what's served at ritzy coffee bars and barista competitions wouldn't be recognized as coffee by most people. And the atmosphere of those cafes is frequently as sterile and imposing as the worst tuxedoed concert hall. Whatever pastime you want to look at, it seems you get this divide between "academic" pursuit, and regular "folk" enjoyment.
Like a bird without a beak - thoughts on game design/production/copyright/whatever.
Alienating subscribers of my blog
Whist Twenty Twenty-Two, a new lyric set to a new tune, "whiskers on a milkmaid saw I never nane", to be played on The 52, for the enjoyment of young and old.
Lamentations of the Folk Poseur
Ritual is seriousness at its highest and holiest. Can it nevertheless be play? -JH
He hears with gladdened heart the thunder, or, A Quiet Spirit, or, On not being a better person after having left boardgamegeek for 3 months.
While I think that the folk/high ("academic" in the reddit comment) culture distinction is real, the overall spectrum in gaming is certainly more folk/commercial, with most of what Samo is railing against being in the commercial category and not any high category. Further, I think that Samo is usually just championing one end of the pop spectrum against the other end (one stream of what he refers to in his comments as "two mainstreams"). In the reddit replies, his comments on "market forces" and the "free market" being behind the proliferation of games he doesn't like seem absurd to me. Sure, "the free market" has begun to deliver a certain style of game, but it does so because there is an audience for it (I grant that point but don't see why it's a problem for him beyond that he doesn't like a certain style of game), and simultaneously allows for the flourishing of all sorts of small and interesting voices. Turncoats can find its audience. Watch Out! That's a Dracula! can make it on the OG monthly hotness list.
His comment, "If you want more variety, government/eu funded art is the only way to go" just reads to me like so much blind nonsense (how's that for Samo-level rhetoric?), especially as applied to gaming (which is the context in which he makes this comment). Does Samo really believe that there would be more variety in gaming than there is right now if only there were state funding for such a thing? How much more variety does he want than multiple thousands of games available internationally each year? Why does he even invoke variety here? Is it really a thing that he wants? Does he really consider the current hobby scene so monolithic and without variety? Does he believe that the BGG consensus is really the hobby consensus?
I'm not against governments patronizing the arts or even governments supporting gaming in some official way (To make up wild examples, I'd love for there to be a New York State Go Master that lives at the Governor's house and tutors her in Go or a New York State Commission on State Card Play Culture that encourages local Pitch societies and tournaments). I just find Samo's argument bizarre and another instance of him being stuck in a commercial "market model" (he just wants a different market than the current one) over against any sort of folk culture, which I think he's yearning for but doesn't really want. His comments read like he wants a regulated commercial gaming industry that creates and promotes the sorts of games that he likes (which is where I think the accusations of elitism come from; he admits that he doesn't trust "the market"--people's actual choices in what they're buying--because the market caters to lowest common denominator trash that only idiots like. He would prefer for there to be a system that sponsors what he considers to be in good taste). He can't or won't imagine a non-market hobby mindset.
Personally, I think that we need some sort of broad strategy to re-orient hobby gamers away from the hobby's commercial captivity and back towards a shared culture of limited consumption. A chess/go/backgammon/whatever set (pick your preference), a deck of cards (or a dozen), some dice, and a good book of parlor game rules accomplishes the people-first mindset that Samo wants while simultaneously being ecologically and economically responsible. Commercial games can and should continue to exist, including the wonderful proliferation of outsider designers, but these commercial products should be encouraged to use paper and wood (biodegradable and renewable) and/or be designed to use with stuff you already have (MarraCash, for instance, can be played with generic meeples and cubes and poker chips; a publisher could simply print a board for it). Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic that this can or will happen apart from some crisis. It's an entirely different mindset than the current commercial model that exists everywhere. And the OG Guild is probably the wrong place for me to be rambling on like this! (which is why I've moved this too-long comment to its own blog post). Though I suspect that many of you will be sympathetic to wood and paper designs and the idea of a vibrant local gaming culture centered around a shared love of relatively "basic" games conducive to repeated play.
Related, I was thinking last night about how two recent new-to-me commercial favorites are really just folk designs. Strike can be played with a block of dice and any container you have around. Hit! can be played with three $1 decks of cards (If I remember right, it's 11 copies of 1-5 and 7 of 6-10). I can't even remember Strike's designer's name. Hit is a Knizia design, but most of the people that I've taught the game to do not know that and would not care.
Anyhow, I'm sorry that I'm posting this here where Samo doesn't have a chance to respond. I respect him and wish we could have a conversation here. All I know is that there's no chance that I'm commenting on that linked Reddit thread or any other Reddit gaming thread! And if I someday have the honor of being banned from BGG myself, I hope to just quietly disappear from the internet altogether.
And all of this really was just rambling. I've had a couple of brief interactions with Samo in the past. I'm convinced that we're 90%-95% on the same page in terms of the current state of games and hobby gaming.
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Whist Twenty Twenty-Two, a new lyric set to a new tune, "whiskers on a milkmaid saw I never nane", to be played on The 52, for the enjoyment of young and old.
07 Feb 2022
G.K. Chesterton wrote:The modern mind is forced towards the future by a certain sense of fatigue, not unmixed with terror, with which it regards the past. It is propelled towards the coming time; it is, in the exact words of the popular phrase, knocked into the middle of next week. And the goad which drives it on thus eagerly is not an affectation for futurity Futurity does not exist, because it is still future. Rather it is a fear of the past; a fear not merely of the evil in the past, but of the good in the past also. The brain breaks down under the unbearable virtue of mankind. There have been so many flaming faiths that we cannot hold; so many harsh heroisms that we cannot imitate; so many great efforts of monumental building or of military glory which seem to us at once sublime and pathetic. The future is a refuge from the fierce competition of our forefathers. The older generation, not the younger, is knocking at our door. It is agreeable to escape, as Henley said, into the Street of By-and-Bye, where stands the Hostelry of Never. It is pleasant to play with children, especially unborn children. The future is a blank wall on which every man can write his own name as large as he likes; the past I find already covered with illegible scribbles, such as Plato, Isaiah, Shakespeare, Michael Angelo, Napoleon. I can make the future as narrow as myself; the past is obliged to be as broad and turbulent as humanity. And the upshot of this modern attitude is really this: that men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.I just wanted to start with a Chesterton quote. It's only tangentially related to what follows, in that I see a widespread shallow culture in gaming right now that praises games "as narrow as myself", thinking that this or that Hotness is significant only because they have failed to engage with the "broad and turbulent" past that is full of more terrible greatness than they could possibly bear. How's that for a hot take?
In 1997, I bought a copy of the newly released CD boxed set version of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. It's not an exaggeration to say that this CD set changed my life. It opened me up to the past, not as the past, something we're done with, but the past as something that is with us always, something that is the very condition for the present that we enjoy so much, if we do.
Being exposed to such a large sampling of American Folk Culture all at once allowed me to see "past" the current culture that was being marketed at everyone. It is an irony that I was presented this preserved past through the medium of recorded music, one of the very things that helped to destroy and suppress the past. Recordings of your mother singing off-key lullabies that her grandmother taught to her do not sell units. Nevertheless, these songs build cultures. The songs we make ourselves and share with one another, face-to-face, voice-to-voice, are the ones that matter. If I had to choose, I'd trade the entire past century of recorded music for a copy of Ruth Seeger's American Folksongs for Children and some children to sing those songs with. And if I had to choose between the collection of folk songs and the children, I'd choose the children and we'd sing "la de da" and make our own great songs, just for us, of course. And we'd share those songs and we'd listen to the songs of others.
After discovering Harry Smith, I became obsessed with Alan Lomax and looked to him as a hero figure. Somewhere in my basement are several cassettes of "field recordings" that I made in college. I would record strangers and friends playing music, telling stories, jokes, whatever. I would go to events and record lectures and concerts, open mic coffehouses. I'd record strangers on the street. All with a cheap pocket cassette recorder. High Tech. Primitive. Sublime and pathetic?
[My friend Joel would tell the funniest sketch of Lomax in the fields chasing down rare farts.]
Lomax's primary resistance to commercial/artificial (imposed from without instead of nurtured organically from within) mass media was to use the tools of technological culture (insert something smart about Ellul's idea of la technique here) against itself, putting those tools in service of preserving and transmitting folk cultures that were rapidly in danger of extinction.
And here's where we finally get to games, which is why we're all here on BGG. And some of us are using the internet and BGG to... talk about and play... old card games and even older board games? Yes.
arguedasserted in the past that all games worth playing are, in some sense, folk games.
David Parlett, in one of his books, maybe in all of his books, argues that it is not the rules that make a game, but the players that enforce the rules that make a game.
It's something that Parlett has explored further in his essay, "Rules OK":David Parlett wrote:The most basic level of experience suggests that the rules of a game are something inherent in the game itself - or, more accurately (since a game is essentially a mode of behaviour), an abstraction existing in the minds of all its players. They are expressed in words every time someone describes a game or explains how to play it. Not everyone will have exactly the same understanding or grasp of the game, so they're unlikely to transmit their knowledge in exactly the same form of words. These rules are therefore not a known quantity but an average of all the understandings of all the players. As such, they may contain inconsistencies. The totality of rules of all but the simplest games are not exactly a cloud of unknowing, but could be described as a cloud of fuzzy knowing. In telling you how the game is played, they serve to establish its identity formal . Huizinga, in Homo Ludens, says "Every game has its rules"; but I would go further and say "Every game is its rules, for they are what define it".I've tilted at the idea in the past that games are similar to plays (this comment and especially following comments interacting with Samo), scripts that are acted out, with the best of them simply being blueprints for grand improvisation.
But Jeff's recent post reminds me that rules are also like sheet music, both designed to be "played" in order to be experienced fully.
Before the advent of recorded music, music was shared in one of two ways, either through a performance that could be appropriated through practice and mimicry, or through reading/studying a written text (sheet music) that could be interpreted and performed.
Both required an instrument.
The most democratic instrument for making music was and is the human voice. Natural talent varies. Training and skill vary. But barring disability or injury, everyone can sing.
Idea for future post: Song is glorified speech. Games are (can be? are not? might be?) glorified play? Song is structured speech? Games are structured play? I'm not sure where to go with this.
Anyone can sing. Anyone can read words and make up a tune. Whether it's a good one or not, it's possible to do. Someone can hear a song and repeat the song. Someone trained to read written music can read a melody and sing that melody.
Musical instruments are an extension of the human voice and/or, in some sense, the spirit. The same breath/spirit that is expired in song is communicated/extended in many instruments. That this spirit can find expression through the fingers in stringed instruments and percussive instruments is remarkable. The materialists among us can disagree with me, but I don't know how to account for music or play apart from spirit-talk. That's an aside.
Asides usually mean that I'm rambling too much, out of focus.
The point is that individuals received the information to perform the song themselves using an instrument, whether that was their own voice or a piano or guitar or banjo or drum or whatever. If you didn't perform the song yourself or have anyone around you to perform the song, you didn't experience music.
Prior to the last hundred to two hundred years of commercial manufacturing, if someone wanted to play a game, they read the rules and then used the instruments at hand. Not musical instruments, but ludic instruments.
Like song, many popular games could be used with just the human voice or just the human body. See the rise of popularity of parlor game books.
Many popular games were physical. Grab a group of mates and a pig's bladder and you've got something to do in the afternoon. The marked ground and the ball become an instrument for the rules (and thus the players) to express themselves.
As for table games, the most popular instruments were tables (backgammon), a board with grids and unique easily reproduced and distinct pieces (chess, go, tafl), and... a deck of playing cards.
The truly remarkable thing about the deck of playing cards is what a versatile instrument it was and is. Like the piano in the parlor, one instrument could play sonatas and swing music, folk ditties, hymns, and complex jazz improvisations. One instrument could play Skat, Whist, Scopa, Go Fish, Poker, Jass.
Like learning a style of music, one could learn a style of game. One could play that game as they learned it, or, like any living tradition, they could make it their own by adding their own variation, usually best done, to greatest effect, after mastering the basics of the tradition. There can be no improvisation without previous mastery. They could use that instrument to make their own song, their own game, informed by what they have learned from all previous songs, all previous games, all previous play.
What was lovely about this pre-commercial, pre-industrial play is that there were common instruments and people were taught to play common games. Commoners were common in the best possible way. They had common sense.
Our current "hobby gamer" culture is the opposite of this sharing in common. There is innovation and there are unique songs, but they are pre-packaged and commodified. When someone writes a new song (creates a new game), they also require you to learn a new instrument. You must buy a brand new instrument to play their song, because their song only "works" on the instrument that they have designed for it to be played on. You can play both Beethoven and Boogie Woogie on a piano. You don't have to build an entire new instrument every time. That's not the case with contemporary board games. If you want to play a certain song (let's say Wingspan), you buy a package that lets you play that song. If you want to play a different song (let's say Carcassonne), you buy an entirely different package.
We've left behind the instrument (the deck of cards, in my example, but also common boards and bits) that allowed for "standards" in the first place, that allowed for the preservation and transmission of a world in which anyone could have a common musical (or ludic) language.
So, back to Jeff's Standards analogy. Not only do we no longer have shared Standards. we have a situation "in the hobby" in which it is impossible to have Standards. A commenter on Jeff's post suggested that maybe mechanisms are equivalent to Standards. Yeah, kinda? But you've still got everyone trained to "play" those Standards/mechanisms on their own instrument, which usually involves a level of complexity that requires commercial production or a culture of players willing to put the effort into a "print'n'play" version. Either way, the "instrument" played is unique to the "song", which is different than how it was done in the past.
I tend to think this situation, while allowing for some lovely developments, is largely an inferior culture to the previous culture, precisely because of the way in which it is eminently Modern in elevating the Individual over the Common Good.
There's still more I could respond to specifically from Jeff's post. This was more me riffing and rambling with that post as a starting point. A lot to think about. I wish I had the time to sit and reflect and write a properly focused essay. For now, you all get scattershot thoughts. Thanks for humoring me. As always, writing is just a way of finding my own thoughts. Any pushback/feedback is always welcome.
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I'm on Discord. I think I'm trawlerman#6154. Invite me to all your things. I've dabbled in Discord in the past due to the influences of friends, but I haven't been active in a long while. I guess I'm back. Maybe for a day or two. Maybe for a week or more. Maybe longer.
Part of me wants to get involved in more online gaming/shenanigans. Part of me wants to unplug entirely.
The MORE part of me is currently winning. Maybe. At least for the moment.
It's such a silly struggle. I only share this because I think it's a common silly struggle. Online. Offline. I think that what is in front of us matters most. What is in front of us should not be a screen. Ouch. Are there good screen things? Am I here chasing them?
I recently got a delivery of cigars from Cigar International (enter code SA8362 to get the deal). I'm craving Coiffeur-Jass. I know there are others out there who feel the same. Online sessions (which I acknowledge are real-in-some-way sessions) could happen. It's only my own limitations holding me back.
Sigh. I think I'm okay with virtual cards if I get actual smoke, I think, I think...
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On the way home from work today, I bought some new-to-me beer. Why? It's time to celebrate tonight.
I'm hard at work adding these right now before Sean can change his mind.
What beer did I buy to fortify me in these efforts? Moosehead, of course.
Since I've just read the rules to Cowbell Vira and re-read the rules to Moosehead, both today, here's a "selfie" of my own fat cow face drinking a Moosehead lager. The first photo I took was fuzzy. This was the 2nd. No polish. No filters. Just a tired, overweight middle-aged man enjoying a Canadian beer while trying to photograph himself. It probably could have been even more unflattering, but I hope it's bad enough. I can't wait to post a photo of this same face with a cow hat on its head after my inevitable failed Vira bid.
I'm also looking forward to logging my own first gaming purchase of 2022: a cow hat and a Cowbell. What hobby is this???
- [+] Dice rolls