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AmeriTrash vs. EuroGame: Are they just names for genres, or fact?

Brian Clymer
United States
Fort Collins
Colorado
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I've become an addict to reading game reviews, session reports, and Kickstarter campaigns in an effort to better understand the game industry as well as broaden my knowledge while I increase my game collection. The largest frustration for me is the haphazardly used terms of "EuroGame" and "AmeriTrash". I understand that at some point these classifications of game types held meaning, but have they lost their significance?

For some background knowledge, EuroGames are also called Designer Board Games or German-Style Games. These games have certain characteristics that are similar with one another; most specifically, the aspect of indirect character interaction (player v player combat is incredibly rare). For a more definitive definition, go here: http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Eurogame]

AmeriTrash is a VERY loosely used description of a game genre that is, for all intents and purposes, the antithesis of the game style defined above. Again, for a better explanation, go here: http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Ameritrash

Definitions aside, I find it disturbing that a hobby such as board game collection/play - a hobby drawn to originality and diversity - can drive a wedge between two differing appearances and plays of games: Euro vs. American. The dichotomy of EuroGame vs. AmeriTrash seems heavily grounded in structure and game play whilst experiencing "EuroGames", but completely subjective to opinion and bias come the utilization of the term "AmeriTrash".

My personal preference is to use the terminology of strategy games vs. luck-based games, but that might seem too simplistic for some (the flawed logic in this is that it implies EuroGame/AmeriTrash isn't simplistic shake). I just find that the use of AmeriTrash is a term intended by strategy game elitists trying to form a rift between themselves and games that hold a DEEP thematic overlay and luck-based mechanics (*cough* dice-rolling *cough*). The term also places a widely biased lens over such games as Mansions of Madness, Arkham Horror, or Cosmic Encounter - making these games seem less than desirable while they hold HUGE fan followings.

What frustrates me the most about classifying games as either EuroGame or AmeriTrash is the convoluted forced classification of games. There are, of course, war games, CCGs, and others, but I find that those who are new to the hobby of board games/card games try to use these terms as a means to "fit in" to the sub-culture of BGG.

That being said, keep on gaming, BGG community! Just keep your reviews OBJECTIVE with caveats to personal preference. Just pleeeeeeease don't insult a game's content, structure, or playability on personal preference. I like to think of my reviews of games - both before and after purchase/play - through Components, Convenience, Cohesion, Complexity, and Continuability (5 C's). Both strategy and luck-based games can score very highly on these criteria...

Components - How durable are the components? How elegant is the artwork in regards to the theme of the game? How's the storage of the components in the box after initial opening/punching of pieces?
Convenience - How difficult is the setup/takedown process?
Cohesion - Does the overarching theme of the game fit well into the style of the game? Does the theme mesh well with the roles/actions within the game?
Complexity - Pretty self-explanatory...
Continuability - How willing are members of my game group and me to play this game ad infinitum?

So long rant short, do your homework and don't ruin the experience for others! Just because a game is luck-based doesn't mean it's going to be an awful experience and conversely, just because a game is strategic doesn't mean it's going to be infinitely amazing. Every game caters to a certain subset of gamers (some provide a player base larger than others) and just because you may not be into deeply thematic horror/fantasy games doesn't mean that the rest of the world is going to agree with you.
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