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Kingmaking: The Conclusion

Alec Chapman
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ALGO wrote:
Folk seem to be saying that people should feel free to keep playing a game they can't win, just as long as they do so in a non-kingmakey way. Could anyone who holds this view please be clear on exactly what this means, for me? I don't want to argue against a strawman.
Eric the GM wrote:
The loose consensus is that Kingmaking is when a losing player begins making moves that would not be rational if the player was still in contention.
ErsatzDragon wrote:
For me, it means continuing making moves / choices as though I was able to win. That is, I should continue playing as though I haven't noticed that victory is actually out of reach.
First, thanks to these two users for answering my question

It seems that "kingmaking" then has a very narrow definition indeed, considering how often the term is used. It must be:

1. During a game with more than 2 players/teams without elimination
1a. During a game where being mean to other players isn't the whole point
2. A deliberate action by a losing player
3. Proximate to the outcome of the game
4. "Irrational" in terms of maximising points/position

But.. wait a sec... surely we see now that all of these could apply to any move on the last turn apart from the winning one?

To really hit a unique point you'd have to add
5. Vindictive

And I simply refute any notion that 99% of the use of the term includes that last part of the definition. And then by definition you cannot "accidentally kingmake" nor could games be "prone to kingmaking".

The problem of claiming "irrationality"

Also, and more importantly, I dislike part 4 of this definition immensely and it is where me and most of the posters in that thread part ways.

You can't win, so how is playing as if you could win defined as "rational" when it is irrational by definition? At best "playing politely" would seem a better word.

The presence of actors with no rational goals simply now needs to be accounted for by winning players' strategies. As I stated in an earlier blog, in a lot of games there are ways to maintain an illusion of contention or to defend against such actors etc etc.

A player put in an unwinnable position will also obviously, in many cases, continue to play sub-optimally whatever their intent. Just think of it as "unintentional irrationality" to relate it to the points above.

Obviously they will, in fact, since that why they have ended up in a position they can't win from. Let's be clear: the fact they have not fully understood the path to victory is why they can't win! How can you expect them to suddenly make nothing but sensible moves now?

However, when they continue to play in an honest way they may still get labelled with a mild slur and some social negativity just because the other players left them with the power to affect the game's outcome but, crucially, no stake in that outcome?

Calling the game

Venser wrote:
Earlier I mentioned my group normally ends the game the minute an absolute winner/loser is identified.

If a group insists on playing with players in these positions, I'd expect the loser to take actions that terminate the game in the most expedite manner possible. Their position is untenable to winning regardless of their actions.

Kingmaking or propelling the leader further ahead are two possible outcomes, and I'm fine with that if others insist on finishing the game.
Calling the game as soon as anyone can't win, or the bolded approach above is just as damaging* to the "natural" outcome as any other alteration of approach.

The early end does not allow anyone's long term strategies to pay off and the loser trying to end the game sees their actions change now they can't win, therefore the final outcome is altered as well.

Conclusion:

For the vast majority who don't give a monkey's about my blog I will just reiterate here that I think Kingmaking is just an ill defined, very loose slur used in relation to whichever late-game moves a potential but unsuccessful near-winner didn't like. Therefore, what I believe it refers to is simply the act of someone else taking their turn... and therefore doesn't really need its own word and certainly that word shouldn't be used to low-key insult your fellow players (let alone the player who actually won now feels like crap).

It is taking a subjective expectation about how your opponents "should" act, and trying to impose an objective authority with it and crying when reality doesn't match with opinion.

The illusion of Kingmaking seems to be caused by an action's proximity to the final outcome, despite the fact an identical action taken ten turns earlier and with an identical impact on the final outcome is never accorded anything like the same level of importance.

We play games with people.

People are flawed, people are irrational, people are wonderful. Don't slam them for their mistakes and don't belittle games where people can affect the final outcome throughout as if it's a bad thing.

That's what these games are - we sit down and create an outcome together.

Just have fun, for goodness' sake**.



*Important note: I don't view this as "damage" at all, in fact, but that's the position of others.
**If you cannot have fun in these circumstances, may I introduce you to the hundreds of fantastic two player games out there where a resignation is actually often the most polite and acceptable end?
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Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:57 am
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Kingmaking: The Continuation

Alec Chapman
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Another response to the post on Kingmaking expanded too far, so here it is.

Some people in the thread had been saying that the only goal of importance is the win and that wherever you end up on the leaderboard other than 1st is equal in the big picture. Therefore the goal of moving from third to second isn't a valid one to set yourself.

Someone (I think Pete) even said that sometimes they will call the game at the point somebody cannot win, since the potential of disagreeable actions by that player affecting the eventual outcome is undesirable.

That seems... odd... to me, but each to their own.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah from the Kingmaking debates we can exclude 2 player games, multiplayer solitaire* games and 2 team games. Kingmaking in those games is analogous to simply "making a game losing error".

First off, it's totally valid if your game group has agreed to value winning above everything else; it's your life and your salmon.

The social contract of my game groups has never been and will never be "to endorse the victory of whoever wins", it's always been to "have fun with other people while playing a game".

It horrifies me that anyone would say that if you can't win then your choices can only ever affect the game outcome for other players in a disagreeable way.

When the win slips away I will act as I want within the rules and you will have to deal with the consequences - it's called "playing games with other people".

I also accept that sometimes people will do this at my expense as the very minimal cost of their companionship.

This approach was obviously the designers' intent because otherwise there would be player elimination at the point one could no longer win.


I've seen several suggestions as to what should can do when you can't win:

1a. Play as if you can win
1b. Play to maximise points
1c. Play to move up the leaderboard

These are similar, but not always analogous

2. Continue playing but just not in a kingmaking way
I have never had a satisfactory definition of what this means. I have asked and we will see what they come up with

3a. Concede the game and refuse to continue
3b. The group ends the game at this point and determines the winner
This is really problematic in multiplayer games where the leader / eventual winner is not clear. It's totally acceptable where everyone has lost the option of winning, but that's not what we're discussing

4. Only play games where nobody is ever out of the running

Well this leads to a playing a bunch of of games where only the last move ever matters, or they are characterised by an inherently unfair catch-up mechanism. YMMV on how much this matters

5. Set yourself a new in-game goal and be true to it, regardless of its impact
This is generally what I do. My groups are all pretty cool with it, but again YMMV

6. Just go out of your way to punish the other players by making the game less fun or roadblocking everything anyone does etc. for no reason other than to troll the table because you lost
This isn't kingmaking for me, it's being a dick. Don't be that guy. Unless you're playing Cosmic Encounter, in which case do be a dick. That's the whole point.


I hope it's clear that I believe (EDIT: the common complaint) about Kingmaking to be a phantom; A complaint that some nebulous social contract is broken by not letting the rightful winner achieve that transitory and meaningless distinction on their own.

But here's the thing: as soon as you agreed to sit and play a game with other human beings, you ceded some of your credit for AND control over its outcome. Every decision anyone made in the whole game is a factor in its eventual final scoring - if you don't like this, there is a whole world of fantastic alternative options out there.

Why people who believe that any player who cannot win should concede all control are playing anything at a higher player count than 2 is beyond me.

There are hundreds and hundreds of fantastic 2 player games in the world. Why on Earth are you trying to impose a "winning is the only goal that matters" outlook on a game in which the majority of players will not (and some perhaps cannot) meet that goal?

I love the cut and thrust of a 2 player zero sum game. I love the constant back and forth flow and flux of multiplayer games. Neither of these things is better than the other for me. Though I generally prefer playing with multiple people, this is more about enjoying the company of friends than enjoying those games more than 2 players.

It's just... the approaches one takes to these two things are not particularly mixable. Whatever type of game you like, it's important to understand that when you agree to be part of a group, it's the group that determines the outcome - nobody wins or loses alone and by themselves in this situation; once you let that go, Kingmaking is a will-o-the-wisp and is blown away in the laughter of a table having a good time.

And hey, if that game ended unsatisfactorily, why not set it up again and play some more. That's what I want to do.

Have a great day, guys.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

*The term "multiplayer solitaire" is extremely overused and usually incorrectly. I guess you could put a lot of independent optimisation games and non-contact racing games here, but the label is usually appended to games based on "feel" rather than "fact". My intention here is to use it in the literal sense. You can't kingmake if nothing you do affects anyone else until you tot up scores at the end.
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Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:36 pm
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Kingmaking: The return

Alec Chapman
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Hi. It's been a while.

This began as a response to "Why is king making so frown upon by experienced gamers?" But is too long and too self important to go in a regular forum.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Ooh boy. This old thing?

It's "frowned on by experienced gamers"?

I'm an experienced gamer (unless we are gatekeeping against decade-long BGGers) and I don't frown on it, but the spirit of the question requires the response - "it's what people who have just lost from an apparent winning position claim just happened in order to make themselves feel better".

Sometimes (far more rarely than the term's use suggests) their complaints are valid - occasionally someone is a douche and arbitrarily takes your victory away for no reason. This is incredibly rare in the over-thirteens demographic.

However, in all but those rarest of cases, it's a phenomenon exclusive to those who believe they are entitled to the W by playing "better" but some whippersnapper came in and took the decision on who would win away from the deserving leader. Know your role, plebians!

It's very simple; if you* don't want there to be any chance of kingmaking, go play something on your own.

I split kingmaking complaints into three categories: deliberate, accidental, and inherent.


1. Your buddies deliberately smashed you up / handed someone else the lead to stop you winning

a. Check that this isn't the whole point of the game (Diplomacy, King Of Tokyo, Take That card games etc). Recall that in a lot of games, stopping someone winning is the only chance of not losing.

b. Make it less obvious you are in the lead, either by managing your obvious or immediate inflow of points until later (subterfuge) or distracting in other ways (negotiation).

c. Defend your leads better. Maybe the other players were only appearing to be "behind" until now because they actually spent effort defending their position.

d. It's a game group expectations problem. Some groups are just like this. My twice yearly Cosmic Encounter crowd has "be massive d**ks to each other" on our metaphorical house crest.



2. Your buddy accidentally handed someone else the game

a. This is a phenomenon also known as "losing". It happens a lot, so learning to get over it is probably a good idea.

b. Perhaps remember that the other players are also playing a game to their best (or some percentage of the best) of their abilities. They are not acting as rubber stamps to your inevitable dominating genius. People make mistakes; not all of those mistakes will benefit you.



3. The game seems to inherently make your victory dependent on the actions and behaviour of others but somehow, in this play, that behaviour led to the victory of someone other than you.

a. This is called "playing games".


I repeat: the only way to avoid kingmaking is to play games where players cannot affect each others' scores, ensuring that the play is really about optimising your own particular performances and subsequently comparing those against given criteria.

It's much like the difference between Snooker/Golf/Bowling and Football/Rugby/Basketball. Even then, your victory or loss could depend more on your opponents mistakes than your skill.

I'm minded of high level chess and the way that games can be won by the person who didn't make a mistake, rather than the person who simply played great chess (which they both would anyway)

Remember: If the third party doesn't kingmake so the second place player wins... they are therefore kingmaking so you win!

You just wouldn't notice that because it would have turned out in your favour and we ALL tend to attribute success to ourselves and failures to outside factors. The trick is not to get in a situation where your victory over your closest opponent is entirely dependent on the actions of a third party.

TLDR: You Lost. Get Over it.**

*This is a rhetorical "you", placed here because every time I use the word "one" to denote a non specific subject of a point, I sound like I'm in a costume drama.
**Yes, I've only put this here because it is the only time I would ever deem it appropriate #remoaner
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Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:59 am
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Why Monopoly always wins - is it our own fault?

Alec Chapman
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I've decided to try and examine fully a conjecture I have about why, in any discussion about the future of board gaming, Monopoly remains the main touchstone for those not already inside this community.

This is, of course, following the rather farcical Radio Show on board games featuring an ignorant presenter, a man from Winning Moves and LoB's very own Martin (aka QWERTYUIOP) who was sadly ignored, despite plugging "our games", in favour of Winning Moves' own Monopoly and Top Trumps.

Quote:
Incidentally, I described the experience of listening to the show as "like being punched in the ears with boxing gloves made of mouldy candyfloss." - it was actually much worse than that sounds.
It is my opinion that it is probably the very ubiquity of Monopoly that is the reason for its continued domination of this conversation, and therefore also the reason for its domination of the market.

So why is it ubiquitous? Peter Griffin, the representative of Winning Moves on the show, made it clear that the reason for its ongoing success is, they feel, the way Monopoly keeps changing. Of course, their version of "changing" is renaming the spaces - something that most people reading this blog probably do not believe is a real change to the game - but it clearly works.

I think we also all know that Top Trumps is barely a game by any BGG standard - but it is still a massively selling, hugely popular product nevertheless - and Winning Moves obviously believe that the constant rebranding of decks and new sets of trivia is a factor in the continued domination of this product as well.

For me, the most irritating outcome of their continued domination of the sector is the creation of a feedback loop.

Quote:
Everyone learned to play them ages ago --> so they always play them and only them --> which means new players get introduced to them --> which means that those players always play them and only them
- and so on ad infinitum.
I know from experience that a "BGG type" gamer will probably play many different games, and probably any set of ten of us will use ten different games to introduce new players to alternatives to monopoly - the dreaded "Gateway Game". (Monopolternatives?)

So, after this restating of the issue, here's my conjecture - that it is the lack of a single alternative game that keeps Monopoly on top of the tree.

Some of this feeds back into my pet subject of continual game acquisition - with so many shiny new products being released in a year, there is a massive dilution of the games introduced to lifetime Monopoly players - meaning very little headway is made into turning the Property Trading game world onto the alternatives out there.

It is also a product, in turn, of the greater demands and patience we have regarding gaming - Monopoly is a single rule set that once people learn they are content with, seeing very little reason to expand the horizon or spend time learning an alternative to.

Thirdly, we can be snobs. Seriously, I don't think anyone who has played Monopoly every Christmas for twenty years will be inclined to try your favoured alternative if you insist on insulting their go-to as "rubbish". Nobody likes to be told something they like is "shit", and we must be cautious not to fall into this trap.

So, what is the hypothesis that arises from this conjecture?

Well, simply that the board gaming community could be well served by agreeing on a single game to use as an "in" for all people, and we all join forces to push it towards acceptance.

Now, the nature of such a concept is that it would require compromise, something any fan or hobbyist will find difficult. After all, I am yet to find a game that is universally admired - there's always some smart Alec (heh) who finds something to dislike in everything.

But here, nevertheless, is my suggested criteria

1. A single game rule system, with re-theme potential
2. Simple rules, no more than two sides and zero exceptions to remember
3. A progression of success, i.e. the player should feel they are achieving something visibly lasting with each turn.
4. A family theme
5. No player elimination
6. 2-5 player
7. Nice bits
8. Competitively Priced
9. Ideally, aspects of the whole hobby present, identifying paths for people interested in expanding their gaming experience to explore.
10. Be a more fulfilling experience than Monopoly

Once we had selected the game, the whole hobby could get behind it, meaning that every Monopoly gamer would be presented by the same alternative everywhere they go - which perhaps they would already know / recall the rules for.

Note that it would only have to be more fulfilling for us than Monopoly - it doesn't have to be a perfect game. I'm sure that many of us would love it if every Christmas our families were sitting around the dinner table and asked for a game of Cosmic Encounter (for me) or Twilight Struggle (for BGG), but that is not going to happen - Cosmic is all exceptions and TS is too esoteric and in depth for a family (even if it was more than 2 player).

Could this work? Could BGGers swallow our pride and promote something better than Monopoly even if it wasn't to our exact tastes? Is it even a worthwhile thing to do? I am not sure, but if we ever decide to try and knock Monopoly down a couple of pegs, I am starting to believe it is only through a single champion.

What should that champion be? I am not sure it exists yet - suggestions would be welcomed, though.

You may, of course, disagree with me on this - that is your right, as always
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Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:21 pm
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When winners are losers and how losers can be winners

Alec Chapman
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It's one of the oldest lessons in the parent's playbook:
"winning isn't everything"

Most of the gamers I play with understand this little axiom, but I have had a few experiences, as have we all, where the failure to lord it over everyone have led to tears before bedtime, in both a figurative and literal sense.

Perhaps your first experience of gaming was against siblings, which is on the face of it a lovely and sanitised way to channel the natural family rivalries into something fun. However, anyone who has actually done this knows that it is never that simple and fun an experience. When sibling rivalries are involved, there's more on the line than a simple desire to enjoy oneself - you are proving to yourself, your family and the world that you are the WINNER! Youth is full of little moments that seem crucially important but are obviously, with hindsight, of such pitifully low importance it makes one (me) wince with every memory.

Have you ever flipped a board in frustration? I have.
Have you ever switched to actual, physical violence following a game you lost? I have.

Of course, this was a long time ago - but gamers have honed these tendencies into new forms, presumably in the hope of hiding the basic immaturity of these attitudes.

Board flipping becomes Game Bashing.
Physical Violence becomes Passive Aggressive Sniping.

Neither of these take into account the actual game state or even the eventual winner! I'm sure we've all played a game with someone who complained the whole time about how unfair it is and how they don't stand a chance, only to win by a mile at the end. shake

Game Bashing

Game bashing takes many forms, usually of the "this game is broken/unbalanced/poorly designed" type, but is always an excuse - the game is just as "broken" for everyone, after all. Luck is a harsh mistress, but these (usually first play) complaints about the route you chose to take through the game have some major flaws.

a. This game is broken
In almost all cases, this is plain nonsense. I've heard it said about many of the very highest rated games on the 'geek - it is pretty much the gaming version of calling something "gay" when I was young (very un-pc now - I am reliably informed the British youth use "butters" instead). You don't actually mean literally what you said, it's just a snarl word that is an extreme version of...

b. This game is unbalanced
This may be true, but one should always be careful to avoid oversimplification of the situation. Where you have lost and you can't understand why the game itself being unbalanced may well be the least likely explanation for your loss, but since I've covered this before I won't harp on about the same issue again

c. The game is poorly designed
More of the same. Deflection and an obviously weak excuse. A special case of this is the "turn order" or "last/first player advantage" diagnosed on first play. Dopey.

And remember what you are saying here - "I would have done better if only the game was different", which is pretty much like me saying "I'd be the greatest footballer in the world if only football was different" (presumably only I would be allowed to actually move...)

It's also vastly disrespectful to your opponents - as if their performance is irrelevant because the game is (in your opinion) unfair? That's a little harsh for my liking. Stop it.

Passive Aggressive Sniping

I'm in a difficult position here, because (and this is crucial) I believe table talk to be a necessary and important part of every game I play. Either for entertainment value or something more manipulative. After all, if I wanted to play against cold, calculating, silent opponents only then I would be computer gaming - which saves me going out in the cold, at least!

So of course I am guilty of this, either to re-position myself as a potential ally or to mislead the opposition into discounting me from their consideration e.g. my 'sulks' during Cosmic Encounter - these are now getting pretty predictable and obvious, so I'm going to have to come up with something new, thinking about it (note to self - learn to cry on cue). cry

I guess the distinction needs to be drawn in your motivation for doing so. Are you firing verbal missiles at your opposition because you are faking a weak position (or drawing attention to it) for gaming reasons, or are you actually just sulking and lashing out in defence?

Nobody's perfect but it is always worth bearing in mind how little the outcome of this game matters - one position is that games exist, at least in part, to develop your social skills and improve your relationships, neither of which is served by the childish distancing of oneself from our performances. You just look, to use a technical term, like a douche.

When Winners Are Losers

So, covering bad losing is easy, but what constitutes bad winning? As a lifelong bad winner, I can speak from experience.

Some of it is born out of victory being a far more fleeting experience than loss. The other players don't want to dwell on your performance and their failure at all, so it can be tempting to drag the moment of victory out, either by expounding on the minutiae of how you pulled it off or (and this is really unforgivable) pointing out where the other players messed up.

I get it, believe me. It's important to us that our victories are recognised - especially since our losses are so much more numerous and contain far more in the way of camaraderie. There appears more to be learned from a loss as well, since it is far easier to talk about what we did wrong than (as I have said) making a speech about what we did right.

For example, my first ever game of Dungeon Lords went perfectly. I won by a mile and never had any trouble at all. I know that the next time I play I will have no experience of overcoming difficulty in my tool bag to pull out at the opportune moment and improve my situation. Sometimes winning isn't the best outcome for the metagame.

In fact, that's a good point - winning a game is often a metagame disaster! Winner bashing is probably a special case of leader bashing, just one in which the target is chosen before the game is begun (cf. rules explainer bashing) rather than as a result of game events.

Try as we might, we cannot avoid keeping the metagame in the back of our minds - it's only the sensible way to use the experiences, after all - even if we are trying to keep an "each game is a new experience" mindset.

Frequent winners can also find themselves avoided at all costs by less experienced players. Again, this can be the case for me with non-gamer buddies - they wonder why they should even bother playing when "(I) always win". Never mind the fact that as a victim of winner bashing and games teacher bashing I hardly ever actually do anyway.
(my gamer friends will laugh at this idea, given how lousy I usually perform in games against experienced games players, but it is the case, nevertheless)

There's no real remedy to these issues, since everyone can agree that throwing a victory away in service of the metagame is completely daft, but all this just adds to the reasons in favour of underplaying your victories.

Conclusion

So is losing in this particular game a victory for the metagame? Yes and no. You avoid becoming an obvious target (particularly if the winner is being an ass about it) but, let's face it - you lost.

Of course, losing isn't the end of the world. In fact, all things being equal, it's simply more likely than the other outcome (there being more multiplayer games than two player games)!

I've said before that, in the end, board games simply don't, in the grand scheme of things, matter (this being their best feature, IMHO) and that the lessons gained through defeats are often the best way to achieve an improvement in your general play - ask any Go player and they'll tell you. Also, dealing with losing (a small failure, if you will) in a mature and sensible way is a major part of being a good person. Unless you are outrageously fortunate your life will contain more that didn't go to plan than did, the trick is to gain something from each experience.

Lose with grace, Win with humility
...and have fun either way.

Here's hoping I can live up to this ideal.
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Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:42 pm
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Hatred of hassle and mistrust of imagination - how video games got what board games didn't

Alec Chapman
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Yo ho! I've been concentrating on a very exciting musical project so have been away from the 'geek for a while. Hope everyone avoided a pre-Christmas "this year they'll play Caylus" splurge.

I've been mulling over a little conundrum and finally got a point where I am comfortable with my thinking. I've always been intrigued by why it is that computer games have achieved popularity and, more importantly, mainstream acceptance over the last 25 years, while boardgames - certainly the geek equal (geekqual?) of computer games when I was at primary school - have remained a fringe pastime.

Now, the initial response of the defensive fan in me would be to ask why we want mainstream acceptance anyway? After all, the hobby is doing fine and we're getting great games and dedicated fans.

Well, there's something in that, but my dream is to be able to break out a game in any location and not get looked at in the same way the public looks at the crazy guy in Oxford Circus who shouts in your face about Jesus in an aggressive manner not at all in keeping with peace and love.

So, the advantages of mainstream acceptance can be summarised as follows
1. More money in the industry = more games
2. More people playing games = more opponents
3. More places to play games = more gaming

All good things I am sure you will agree, though as in all things more games also means more bad games, more opponents means more asshole opponents with the maturity of a brain damaged goldfish and finally more places to play means little with all the extra players around.

But anyway - I was saying that board games aren't getting accepted more. The much maligned Guardian article about the wealth of the hobby barely scratched the surface... of the surface, but did appear promising - until one remembers that an article very much like this one turns up every year and while I have noticed a change on the shelves in Waterstones this year (they have X Wing!) I don't see attitudes changing so much as an appreciation of markets that exist already.

So I come back to the question I started with - what drove video games into the mainstream but not board games. I have two major threads of thought on this one.

1. (most) Video Games are more accessible than (most) Board Games

This is obvious fact, even removing the caveats my strict brain forces me to include. To play a video game, simply plug in, switch on and play. You can go from a wrapped present to an online fragging player in about fifteen minutes. Set up is two cables and - this is a grossly underestimated factor - you never have to do it again. Compare this to a board game. Many of them you can be up and running with in a short while, but the board needs setting up, new players need to be taught, it needs fully packing away every time etc etc. It's more hassle. And if the modern western world hates one thing above all others it's hassle. yuk

It's simply too much work for many people.

2. People Mistrust Imagination

This is the big one.

Remember when you were a kid and you ran around pretending you were a superhero? Or a robot? or any of a billion different variations (including, perhaps a superhero pirate robot ninja)?

Well, for many people the fact that we did something as a child leads to the conclusion that this thing is childISH. A sort of logical fallacy if you will. Of course, any bright person realises that imagination and reason make a better and more potent combination of skills than reason alone, but they may not realise that imagination is a skill you can continue to use and develop beyond your childhood.

It is in this fact, I think, that we reach enlightenment on why the people at large steer clear of recreational board gaming outside of one game of Monopoly at Christmas

...and remember, Christmas is the one time of year we are "allowed" to revert back to a pseudo-childhood...

The rise in acceptance of video games has gone hand in hand with the improvement in their presentation. Call Of Duty players are now presented with a realistic soldier shooting other realistic soldiers with realistic weaponry. When I was young, a block was firing lines at other blocks and you had to fill in the gaps with... you've guessed it... imagination.

You don't need much imagination any more to play Skyrim, or Far Cry and the like, because it is handed to you on a plate. You see a dragon in Skyrim because the computer is showing you what is undeniably and irrefutably a dragon. It's not like you have a brightly coloured cartoon dragon flying towards you and have to imagine the terrifying fire breathing monster - it is actually there, in as close to reality as you would, I assume, want such a beast to be.

Of course, realistic games are not all of gaming, but the more cartoony ones have realistic physics or controls that (and this was a luxury in the old days) work logically. What I am basically saying is that it has become less work to get swept away in a game - more passivity in imagination, if you will.

Now, the converse is true with board games. They become increasingly difficult in line with how many options there are included - so, for instance, the decision trees at any moment in Twilight Imperium, for example, are far larger than those in 6 Nimmt, but many times smaller than any one moment in Skyrim (a game in which you can simply wander off and do any of hundreds of things if you like).

However, while the average twitch FPS gamer can transfer their skills to a game like Skyrim with relatively few adaptations (the two stick method of 3 dimensional navigation has become pretty ubiquitous in console gaming) the average single game of Monopoly a year player cannot switch to something more complicated with as little work and with as generous an effort/reward ratio.

Even if/once the difficulty hurdle is overcome, there is still the childhood association of imagination with immaturity to best, and that is much more difficult to extinguish.

A wooden cube in a gaming context can be many things; a crate of indigo; a sheep; an orc laying siege to a Stronghold. Never forget that to an onlooker it remains a wooden cube until they buy into it. In fact, for a lot of gamers it remains a wooden cube beyond this point - these tend to be those for whom victory is an exercise in mathematics and mechanisms, but bear with me.

Whilst I appreciate that gaming is not necessarily actually pretending you are a farmer or a space captain, it is probably worth bearing in mind that to some guy who has wandered down into London On Board from the bar above may see things differently - and he should not be dismissed out of hand.

I can't really see a solution to this - perhaps it isn't even a problem in the first place? All I know is that the things that make board gaming great for me - the social interaction, the imagination, the systems and processes that mesh with the players' personalities to create the unique experience of every play - are not easy things to appreciate.

I cannot force myself to be surprised when people are not enthused by the hobby's possibilities. I don't think there is mileage, either, in forcing people to try it against their will. but maybe there are ways we can address these issues directly - by avoiding orcs and goblins, arcane rules mangling and by doing the set up and strike of games ourselves?

In any case, whoever you're playing with this week. I hope you're having fun.
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Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:53 am
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What makes us want to keep buying games? Part 2, Childhood Influence

Alec Chapman
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Hi! This post got away from me a bit, so I am posting what I have done so far and will continue with the rest tomorrow...

Anyhoo, i received the following interesting response from a reader of an earlier post.

August222 wrote:
Your analysis does not address the childhood triggers that many of us have lodged in our brains. My non-gamer wife even has it--she gets a glow if you mention Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. I think our childhood fears and desires are a big part of the collection drive. What are your thoughts on the origin(s) of the drive to create and withstand collections of unplayed games?
I thought this would be an interesting thing to think and write about, so here you go: Read more »
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"There's no point owning games you are never going to play" - How to inoculate your collection against Shelf Fungus.

Alec Chapman
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NB: This refers in part to my last post. Because I haven't quite got the hang of the url tag yet, I'll just post the whole link
http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/14766/how-i-live-without-b...

Hello again.

In my last blog post, on "How I live without buying games" I made a list of how my thought process has changed and what I believe. This post struck a chord with some, a nerve with others, so I wanted to expand on one of the points there. Here, for your convenience, is that point again.

an overopinionated egomaniac wrote:
3. There's no point in owning games if you're not going to play them.
This is both crucial and controversial. I make an exception therefore for serious collectors - especially if they are genuinely making investments. But for the rest of us, buying a game you loved the only time you played it when there's no real chance of realistically getting either enough people or enough time to play it again is insane. Likewise, if you bought a copy of a game and it sits on your shelf unplayed for years - you wasted your money plain and simple. The opportunity cost is a different game you may have enjoyed or even ( surprise ) something outside the hobby you could have done. The fact that you "may play it in the future" merely begs the question why you bought it now! And don't give me the "it may go out of print" thing - Cadbury's don't make Spiras* any more. I survived. You can too.
I can understand there are several reasons why people may have games in their collection that are not getting played. I fancy addressing a bunch of these in this post, to clarify my position on this subject by responding to as many possible counter arguments before they turn up in the comments and also to just check whether I actually do believe that there is no point to owning unplayed games.

Before I do so, I want to put the comment in context. My previous post was all about a useful mindset for stopping ourselves obtaining unplayed games at the purchasing stage, before we've dropped the cash on it and turned it into an esoteric choice of paperweight (or, as I know them, Shelf Fungus). I was not exhorting people to clear out their collections of dead wood. For many this is too much of a wrench (for me in the case of one game) but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

So, my original point in this context was that one should bear in mind that buying a game that you realise will sit unplayed on your shelf for years until you finally trade it or (shudder) bin it is an avoidable mistake. Avoidable by just taking a few minutes to think about your decision before hitting "buy it now" or handing over your debit card.

With this in mind, let's get a crucial response to this thought process out of the way before we get onto the difficult ones...

"I believe this game will get played. If it doesn't I will be surprised"

OK, good place to start is with the most excusable thing - an error. Things happen, friends move away, you fall out, you didn't realise that they have a phobia of Mediterranean Merchants etc etc. There is a difference between a delusion and an error. This is the latter and therefore of course you are excused. Always bear in mind that it is far easier to avoid shame by falsely justifying poor purchasing decisions in hindsight. Make sure you are being honest to yourself and if this is the tenth time you've made this error, you need to talk to your likely co-players more and actually, you know, find out something about them.

and now, onto the more difficult propositions...

"I really want to play this game and I believe I can persuade other people to try it"

Now we're approaching the danger zone. If your friends and gamers are nice people and you are enthusiastic, selling the game well, I am sure they will play any game you recommend once. However, if you purchase anything but a solo game with just yourself in mind, you are setting yourself up for ownership of many games that have been played once or twice that you may absolutely adore, but nobody will play again. Classic shelf fungus. In my case, btw, the main example is Supernova, but virtually every mistake I have made falls into this category. As I said in my last post, you need to think about the people you intend to play the game with, not just yourself.

"I really want to play this game. I don't know anyone who will want to play it now, but they may in the future"
Uh Oh. We're heading into irrational territory and some that I have trod from time to time. We're not quite there because it's totally possible that you will find others who want to play. Especially if you are in a gaming group of a large size, but why make the purchase now? Look at it this way, is there much else you buy, just in case they stop making them? My wife and I are not planning to have children soon, but if we see a cot we like should we buy it now on the off chance they stop making it? Of course not, that's ridiculous (and can't be a straw man since I'm arguing against myself!). FWIW, here is where my beloved, cobweb strewn copy of Twilight Imperium: Third Edition lives (it's still been played 4 times, but clearly that's not many for the investment).

"But what if it goes out of print? I'll feel dumb for not buying it when I had the chance."

Look, I get it - you're worried you'll never get the chance again, but look at Merchant Of Venus, or Up Front. These things do come back and, if you really want, you can almost certainly get it in a few months time even assuming that the company pressuring you with their limited editions and promos are on the level with the small print run promise. Even if they aren't and the game doesn't come out again - your life will not be significantly worse. I promise.
True, I can't get Warhammer Quest for a reasonable price any more and regret selling it to a friend a decade ago (for the painting work I did on the miniatures, mainly) but since trying Descent and Descent 2.0, I'm not of the mind that I will never have such thrills again! There is more to life than a copy of Extrablatt or Full Metal Planete. There are many games one could play instead and, shock horror, many of them are better. surprise

"The geek says this game is in the top ten. I should own the top ten games because they're obviously the best"

I'll quote myself again here:
"Remember the BGG top 100 is not a buyers guide. It is an aggregation of the top 100 outcomes of a weighted score representing separate subjectivities based on an ill defined pseudo-linear scale. It is almost useless as a guide to what your favourite game will be."

To expand - BGG is a site with many thousands of games and users. I am almost certain that not one user on this site has the same tastes as you. With that in mind, it's obvious that the weighted average rating of a few thousand (or hundred) users who don't like the same things as you is of limited use. Certainly the top ten contains games I admire and love, but up until recently included a Dominion set, when I despise Dominion. You'd be forgiven a couple of years ago for, on BBG's evidence alone, thinking Dominion was the greatest thing to happen to gaming ever. I picked up a copy for this reason and didn't like it, trading it almost immediately. A lesson that cost you £30 is not one you should ignore, and I would like to save you that £30. Do more research. Talk with the people with whom you are likely to play the game. Make a choice informed by more than chart position (cf: the 'music' of Cheryl Cole).

"I want this game because I only own two other games"

This is not a reason to buy anything. I only own one TV. There is no need to base my decision on buying a new TV on what I already have, but rather there is every reason to consider what I need. You should do the same. It is likely that you have been indoctrinated by other gamers you meet either in person or on site (unintentionally I might add) into the idea that to be a gamer you must also be a collector. Not true. Ask a Chess Grandmaster.

The implication is also that this advice is somehow an attempt to deny people the experiences that i have had. I do no such thing, all I want to do is sound a note of caution (and save you the roughly £500 I wasted making avoidable errors)

"I want this game because I am collecting games by this designer / with this mechanic / with cute imp models etc"

Collecting is a different hobby from gaming, so I am not going to make judgements on that one.

I think the question that arises is more importantly whether you understand the nature of your hobby. Gaming and collecting games are not the same hobby. You may do both, but they are not intrinsically linked.

For me, I'm a games player, not a game owner. I own games, but that's like owning climbing equipment - I need them to do the hobby, but I wouldn't describe myself as a "crampon collector" or an "ice pick collector". I own a lot of DVDs, but that doesn't make me a DVD collector. I hope this makes sense.
I like watching movies and playing games. I HAVE to wear clothes for, ahem, practical reasons. The obtaining of the materials for all of these things facilitates them - it is not necessarily a hobby.

Final word on this - BGG has many functions, one of which is mutual reassurance. I've read countless justifications of purchases on this site; people reinforcing how right you are to buy more and more games is one of the major themes here. While my dissenting voice is not particularly important I think it is worth pointing out this feedback loop.

10. You consider buying a game that appeals to you.
20. BGG user previews says you should own it, because of theme/designer/mechanics/rarity etc.
30. You buy it, gaining a lovely and fleeting thrill of purchase.
40. Buyers Remorse once expectations not met (hint: they rarely are in their entirety).
50. BGG users soothe the remorse by reinforcing the purchasers 'wisdom' in buying a new game, as users all have a stake in convincing each other they did not make a mistake.
60. Buyer gets craving for same purchasing thrill now long past.
70. BGG users laud large collections, recasting this feeling as "new hotness" and mutual hunt for perfection or constant rulebook wanderlust.
80. Goto 10

This is a perfectly normal purchasing cycle, but all I am trying to do is help you to see it happening. Groupthink doesn't just happen around the table.

"Everybody at the games group always wants to play new games"

I hear you and I've been there, believe me. Make the other folks buy the games if they want to play them. Play with them if they want opponents. Job done.

Only exception is if you think you'd rather play ANY game than no game. This is balls. It's a big world with too many options in it to waste your time playing crappy games in which you are completely disinterested. If I'm playing games the only time I will play a game I am not excited by is if my favourite opponents invite me. As I said in my last post - "people are more important than games".

"I'm a collector investing in games that will hold their value or even rise in value for resale/trade later providing me with an advantage for future collecting."

It's not my thing, but each to their own. Enjoy.

I'm sure there are many more objections, but if you are a player of games rather than a pseudo-collector, yet you have been sucked into being the latter through excitement or the warm embrace of the BGG community (fortunately we're all wearing deodorant today) I hope that maybe, in some small ways I am encouraging you to think it over before your next purchase.
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Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:56 am
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How I live without buying games.

Alec Chapman
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Since the start of this little challenge, back in February of this year, the only new game bits and bobs added to my collection are a copy of Twilight Struggle (traded F2F for an old copy of Tannhauser), Cosmic Alliance (traded F2F for Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers) and Power Grid: The Robots (a birthday gift).

All around this site and at the recent get together in Eastbourne I saw piles of games. Games I didn't own, games I wanted and games I would until recently have immediately bought. But I didn't. I have been game purchase clean for months.

How has this affected my views as a gamer? Well, I was already naturally suspicious of the Cult Of The New and this has obviously not changed. I think if it has done anything to me it has made me more and more certain that I didn't really need any of these games my old instincts were pushing me to grab.

Let's look at one I always wanted, like Dungeon Lords - I am glad to have played it and will be happy to play again in the future, but I got no pangs to purchase it on the spot like I used to. I am instead happy to only obtain new games or expansions when given them. Unlike my birthday in August where I decided to leave games off the menu entirely - getting Power grid: The Robots almost by accident - I have decided to put together a wishlist for Christmas presents that should help my family out when choosing something, should they wish.

I have asked for some things that I fancy getting, like Merchant Of Venus, Hanabi, Dixit - but for the first time I am not really bothered if I don't get them. I think this is a good and better place to be at.

It has got me thinking again about the transient joy of purchasing that informs a lot of the snap decisions to buy games I have seen. One play in and often you will hear someone say "I have to own this game". Clearly the intention is to express a belief that they need this game to be available at all times for, I don't know, sudden visits of board game fans at two in the morning or something.

I intend no sweeping negative moral judgement about people who buy on a whim. They are the ones keeping the industry going after all, especially since the moment I stopped holding up my end! I just think a little Lois Griffin sense is required i.e. "you can have it but only if you count to five and still want it". I have been there and perhaps it is part of the evolution of any hobbyist - that initial splurge of having to try everything and the addiction to punching counters out of cardboard frames and the smell of a freshly unboxed game, hearing the spine on the rulebook give way for the first time...

Oh dear, I'm getting the urge to get a new game again!

So, what's my advice to people who may be feeling their buying getting out of control? What did I learn from the massive box of flimsy thin plastic pirate ships; an £80 Go set; the £120 of Twilight Imperium I never play? Let's see if I can at least point people in the right direction. These aren't rules, they're opinions, but since it is a small voice in a sea of "new hotness" I guess I'll be honest about what I think.

1. You don't have to own a game to get to play it.
I often feel gaming groups (of any size) need to set up a collection sharing system for gamers to get access to all the games they want to play together without everyone buying their own copy. If you are the supplier of all games to your group I can understand you buying every new game, but even if there are only two of you, you should be able to arrange for one to own half and the other to own the other half.

2. Do your research, especially re Longevity.
As I have discovered with things like Tobago, a fun first play does not a great game make.

3. There's no point in owning games if you're not going to play them.
This is both crucial and controversial. I make an exception therefore for serious collectors - especially if they are genuinely making investments. But for the rest of us, buying a game you loved the only time you played it when there's no real chance of realistically getting either enough people or enough time to play it again is insane. Likewise, if you bought a copy of a game and it sits on your shelf unplayed for years - you wasted your money plain and simple. The opportunity cost is a different game you may have enjoyed or even ( surprise ) something outside the hobby you could have done. The fact that you "may play it in the future" merely begs the question why you bought it now! And don't give me the "it may go out of print" thing - Cadbury's don't make Spiras* any more. I survived. You can too.

4. Don't get two games so similar that you may as well not have bothered.
Look, I know there are differences between Carcassonne and Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, but most people don't really care. BGG is a pocket universe where we often conspire to convince ourselves that a different farm scoring is sufficient to get casual gamers (a huge majority of Carcassonne's target audience) to learn and play a virtually identical game with a bunch of fiddly alterations. In my experience they just ask to play the game they know and not understand why you're being so difficult.

5. Know your group(s)
Right, tricky one. Unless the game is designed for solo play, you are not only buying it for yourself. I know this is annoying when you're the one forking out for it, but try and keep it in mind. My decision to buy BSG was made because I wanted a more complex game to play with my Shadows Over Camelot loving buddies than the Round-table-em-up. Of course, what I should have accepted was that this group loves ...Camelot and doesn't really care about BSG. Indeed, they hadn't even heard of the game. Again, BGG's pocket universe sees a progression, or even a logical graduation from one to the other - those with a more casual approach to the hobby don't give a monkey's nads how clever the design is. The step to BSG was a selfish one born out of a desire to be more "serious" and alienated the single most important part of gaming - the other players. Your friends are more important than your game collection. No exceptions. Don't forget it.

6. Know what you want.
I often feel that BGG users conforming to the Cult Of The New tag seem to be hunting for something. The problem is that they don't know what. They say that it is a desire to explore a new system every week, to enjoy the first stage of exploration in a new land. I don't buy it. In many cases this wanderlust is clearly born out of a dissatisfaction that would be quenched by the perfect set of circumstances - know your goal, stick to it and save tonnes of money. Take up a second hobby and/or get out of the house to do that, spending the vast sum of money you saved on this instead (with me it was art so I can't claim it gets me out of the house!) Of course, if I am wrong and you are a person who feels they genuinely will never get tired of playing a new game every week, I can respect this, but sound a note of caution - I used to be that guy, too. I was fooling myself and it's possible you are too.

7. Accept that you cannot own it all
Just as the perfect game for you probably doesn't exist, the perfect collection does not either. As a collection grows, economies of scale start to emerge. You lose track of things (e.g. I know I own a copy of The Battle For Hill 218, sleeved and baggied, but have no idea where it is), you neglect games for years (I just realised the other day I own Supernova and RAF: Battle Of Britain, for example) etc. If there is no limit set on what you can own, it links to the endless search for and trying of new games - can this hobby ever make you happy, rather than hungry?

8. Have a goal. Stick to it.
Your collection serves a purpose. Know what it is and be true to it.
Mine, in the process of being whittled down, has a purpose of being made up only of games that my regular groups know and enjoy. Only games, therefore, that will be regularly played. It is for this reason I own two crayon rails games (which my wife enjoys) and do not own Die Macher (a 'better' and certainly more geek credible game) - the former gets played. The latter would be shelf fungus.
Likewise, your collection may be aimed towards exploring Rondel Games, or historical periods etc. You may have a few collections with one or more such goal. The (possibly only) purpose that I suggest to you is total baloney is "an attempt to own every type of game under the sun so that if someone asks me, I can say I own it". This should not be a hobby of one upmanship and willy waving. I joined this community to try and get away from that bollocks. Nor should anyone feel they have to provide a one stop shop for their friends. The only time you should be the sole supplier of games to your friends is is you do, in fact, own a shop!
The other thing to avoid is just to grab stuff at random without any thought or purpose. That's how you end up with a collection that never gets played.

So in summary then:

Games are designed to be played, not stored.
They are designed to be played with people.
People are more important than games.

With this in mind it was obvious that my collection contained irrelevancies. Because it is now so much harder for anything to be added to the collection that meets these new, strict criteria, the desire I used to feel to grab everything that caught my attention is gone.

I don't believe this approach would kill the industry if everyone followed it. In fact, I think it could improve it as companies start explaining why a game will get played, rather than telling you why you have to buy it now now NOW!

Now I'm off to break out my just rediscovered copy of Android for a two player game this weekend. If you've also got a game you love but which has got lost at the back of your collection, why not break it out and give it back its purpose?

EDIT: *The Spira was my favourite chocolate bar. Cadbury's had worked out a way (I believe using arcane magic) to twist several long thickish strands of chocolate together but their process left air pockets in the middle, creating a satisfying crunch - especially when eating out of the refrigerated vending machine at school. My point is that when it got cancelled I was disappointed. It turns out they superceded it with the Twirl and, later the Flake Dipped (basically the Twirl but for ladies), which are pretty similar but still different. I guess the arcane magic process by which it was made was too expensive to be justified by the line's performance. This analogy works( ) because in many ways the differences between a Spira and a Twirl are minor - like the difference between Mediterranean trading games. devil
If you're wondering why I know so much about chocolate bars I have two words for you: eighteen stone.
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Why Qwertymartin is dead right about game saturation.

Alec Chapman
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Thanks to Qwertymartin for raising this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/9113/five-years-the-jo...
It says, in a far more erudite way the things that really motivated me to attempt my silly arbitrary quest to play ten of my games 100 times. If anything, I am considerably more irritated than he is, but that’s probably because I am generally more irritable.
 
In his magnificent post (and very entertaining comments) he voices the same frustrations I have with there being far too much haystack out there to spot the needle, even when said needle is made of diamond. Rather than write an enormous comment underneath I thought I would respond in my own blog to a couple of the points he made.
 
With everything I say here, I am just voicing opinions. I have also come up with my own solution to this in a self imposed purchasing ban, so these issues hardly encroach on my world to the extent they used to, but if you can’t express yourself on your own blog then there is something fundamentally wrong with the internet.
 
First, the issue of “Too Damn Many Games”. I think it is no secret that there are far too many games coming out every year for any one person to play them all. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this is “too damn many” but in the context of the rest of this post it is crucial to separate the issues into chunks.
There are two major problems with there being too many games for people to play. First, we approach problems of marketing winning out over demonstration and rules releases. Many people bought Elder Sign, for example, because of theme and publisher first and gameplay second. We have all done this in some form or other but when the number of major new releases from each publisher has risen to a huge level the potential for wasting money and time panning for gaming gold is greatly increased. The problem of marketing budgets being the main way people learn about games is that the smaller companies don’t stand much of a chance of widespread approval. It was ever thus, but it needs saying occasionally.
Second problem of sheer number of releases is that each game gets less attention from the publisher. Output doesn’t necessarily rise only when staffing and production capacities do, so a lot of corners can get cut. An entire community making jokes about how you may as well leave the shrink wrap on a game until the first FAQ is released demonstrates this problem. Again, it was ever thus for the early adopter in all new technology or product – but I think it is exaggerated in this market by the high outlay, low playcounts we see frequently.
 
Secondly, just a subjective observation. I despise planned obsolescence. As quantity produced goes up, the only business model that works long term is a high wholesale cost, low playcount one. This means that companies are not only encouraged to maximise the price they can justify charging, they may actually become incentivised to make games that don’t last very long. I’m very mean to Tobago at this point usually, a game that is great fun for two plays before the only revelation turns out to be that that is it, there is no more depth to be had. Tobago is actually a pretty poor choice since it has no pretensions of depth really, but even if this hasn’t become an issue already it is a risk of an ongoing new product saturated market. This is especially if nobody actually wants to play a game more than five times before buying another. I should clarify, I don’t think the gaming industry is planning the obsolescence of their games – I’m not even sure this is possible, but there is no business incentive for them to avoid it becoming a problem for the consumer.
 
Thirdly, the “cult of the new” needs to ask itself a question. What, exactly, are you looking for?
It’s none of my business how you spend your money, buying every slight iteration and minor alteration or mix of systems you like, but have you ever actually asked yourself what will be enough? This whole 10:100 thing was born out of the realisation that my ideal game already exists (yes, LoBsters, it’s that one) so why do I keep trying new games rather than playing my favourites? Does every member of the cult believe that there is a game almost but not quite exactly like a cross between Agricola and Puerto Rico that will miraculously fit their preferences, Goldilocks style? Will that game be significantly more fun than what is already out there to justify the £300 and many hours or whatever you spent on the hunt in the meantime?
How many games are we prepared to go through before we give up the hunt for an ideal that may well never exist?
Perhaps this is a disposable income issue. I don’t have much so what appears expensive folly to me may well be nothing more than a drop in your ocean, so forgive me if this is the case.
 
Fourthly, collectors. I have nothing to criticise. Being obsessive compulsive I know what the drive is like, so I’m not about to preach to those with this particular cycle.
 
Fifthly, I think we generally assess the cost of games incorrectly. If something is fun one time, it may not be necessarily as fun the hundredth, but perhaps it should be? Either way, the important issue is play count, not price. It has been said many times that a game costs as much as two/three/four cinema tickets (this multiplier seems to increase with the price of games with little comment) and it seems instinctively like that’s a good return on investment. Sure, but we’re comparing apples and oranges when we do this. I personally balk at what people spend to get drunk on a night out, but that’s their choice. Should we compare the cost of three pints of beer with a cinema ticket? The time spent at the cinema is 2 hours, drinking a pint of beer is five-ten minutes, playing a game can be either.
 
No. Let’s keep the discussion to games and games alone. So – when you have a cash to play ratio of £1.50 per play (as with Cosmic Encounter or Puzzle Strike for me) it makes a big difference compared to the ratio of £15 per play that I have with, for example, Android. But of course, if you have more fun with one thing than another that needs taking into account.
 
Hence my old hat equation that VALUE = FUN x PLAYCOUNT. If you genuinely like a game, the more you play it should increase towards a plateau (and maybe subsequent fall) rather than starting high and dropping off. I don’t even take cash cost into account here, because it doesn’t really matter for the actual playing of the game.
 
And that is the reason for everything I am doing at the moment. The half an hour I spend being taught a new game is wasted time when I could be having much more fun playing. I have an attention span long enough to concentrate on the one game for enough time, and if the game is good enough then why not play that instead of sitting down to what is likely to be somewhere between my 500th and my 1000th game rules explanation?
 
Lastly (I promise), for the most part the cult of the new can exist without me being adversely affected. Usually, I don’t care much and certainly there’s no reason you should start questioning yourself just because I say so. I do still think this is a genuine issue and one that requires at least understanding by everyone in the hobby; just to make sure our decisions are rational.
 
It is, however, a real drag when you try and organise opponents for games with most people still stuck in that bubble. I realise this puts me in a minority on this website, where the new hotness is king and there is constant contact between gamers and those whose livelihoods depend on persuading them that the next game will be the one they’ve always wanted. The sad fact is that for most cultists it won’t be, because for so many the chase is so alluring that they may have forgotten what they seek.
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:16 pm
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