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Subject: "Filler" - can we come up with a better term? rss

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Frock Lobster
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As someone who has recently come to realize that the types of games that I and a lot of my regular gaming friends tend to enjoy are classified as "filler" on the BGG, I came to ask the community this question:

Can we come up with a better term for this type of game?

Aside from the inherently condescending nature of the word (filler is what you play presumably in between Real Games, to "fill" in), I think that it sets up an unnecessary ghetto for games that aren't deemed serious enough for serious players, but which are actually quite fun and perhaps more attractive to the more casual gamer.

I think people newer to the hobby, or even people quite familiar with the game spectrum, might pay less attention to a "filler" game for these reasons. There's a lot of potential to miss out on games that are the right level of complexity for you or your group because they are lumped in this somewhat dismissive category.

I personally play filler-type games because they are easy to explain, usually tend toward the more interactive end of the spectrum, and because I like to play many games in a night rather than just one long one. They are also games that I would more easily bring out to play with non-gamers, something I can't say for the majority of my heavier, more "euro" games.

I don't have a good suggestion for an alternative. I usually just resort to the terms "light," "easy to explain," or "non-brain-burning."
Anyone have any better ways of describing "filler?"
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Brandon
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Pete Goch
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I thought they were called "filler" games as they're meant to "fill" in the time waiting for people to show up for the main game or for down time between more involved games. As in they aren't just "light" but also short in duration.

As such they could be called gaming apéritifs or hors d'oeuvre.
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Alison Mandible
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I feel like, 90% of the time, "filler" just means "quick". Or maybe more like "quick, even including time to teach it and the fact that new players will go more slowly".

In that sense, the BGG term "pick up and play" is pretty close, and less judgmental-sounding.

I totally ignored games dubbed "filler" on BGG for months, because I thought it meant "filler in your huge collection; stuff you don't really need", the way it's used in talking about movies and music. Luckily, I stumbled across a post that explained it.
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Eddy
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FrockLobster wrote:
I don't have a good suggestion for an alternative. I usually just resort to the terms "light," "easy to explain," or "non-brain-burning."

I'm not sure that your terms are synonymous with filler, though. Non-fillers (actually, that's a decent question -- what's the antonym of filler?) are games around which one (or a group) would schedule an entire session or more. The fillers are the ones that would fill gaps in such a theoretical schedule.

Go is extremely easy to explain. I wouldn't consider it a filler.

Backgammon can be light, in the sense that one can play while concentrating far more on a conversation than on the game. It doesn't require devoted attention, though it rewards it. I don't think of it as a filler -- it is taken very seriously by lots of very serious players.

Mahjong is not a brain-burner*. Our four-year-old got the gist of it within a couple of games. (* Except that practically any game could be subject to AP and become an actual brain-burner, I guess.) I doubt anyone would consider it a filler.

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Ian Radford
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I'm not sure that we really need to. I'm fairly sure that "filler" (like "Ameritrash", and indeed "geek") has long since lost any pejorative sense it ever had, and become a neutral description for games which require little time to explain, set up and play.

Edit: on the other hand, I like the way "jeu apéritif" sounds.
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P.D. Magnus
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FrockLobster wrote:
I personally play filler-type games because they are easy to explain, usually tend toward the more interactive end of the spectrum, and because I like to play many games in a night rather than just one long one. They are also games that I would more easily bring out to play with non-gamers, something I can't say for the majority of my heavier, more "euro" games.

I don't have a good suggestion for an alternative. I usually just resort to the terms "light," "easy to explain," or "non-brain-burning."
Anyone have any better ways of describing "filler?"


I think that 'light', 'short', and 'small' are usually better terms, since they describe difficulty, game length, and size. They are relative and a little bit subjective, but they are features of the game itself.

'Filler' is more about how the game is used than about the game itself. I do not find the term to be very useful. A filler needs to be short, but sometimes I spend all evening playing short games.
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David B
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Enrico Viglino
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Enrico Viglino
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FrockLobster wrote:
filler is what you play presumably in between Real Games, to "fill" in


That's PRECISELY why it has the name. It is derisive, but not a
fixed category. I consider 2-hour euros 'filler'. On the other hand,
there are people like yourself who WANT to play a bunch of shorter
games. What do you do between them? Filler for you might be flipping
a card.
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Smurf-o-Deth
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One man's filler is another man's thriller.
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pax domina
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I, for one, appreciate your thoughtfulness in this matter. Since my main gaming partner is six years old, most of the games in our collection play in under an hour. Almost every single game of ours has been referred to on BGG as a "filler". And you are correct that most reviewers here make that reference as a backhanded compliment at best.

I have always played games but have never cared for those that last long. When I was 11 or 12 my brother introduced the DnD old-school rpg to the neighbor kids and me. We would wile away entire Summer afternoons immersed in this imagined world. As a married-with-kids adult, I can't imagine ever wanting to spend that amount of time on a single game again.

However, if my gaming partner and I get to play one or three games in an evening instead of watching TV, then we are better people for that investiture of time.

In honor of that point of reference, I suggest the following terms for consideration:

Hora (or sub-hora) games - those that can be played in under or around an hour (hora, in Latin) -- regardless of the complexity.

or

Episodic games - those that can be approached with a similar level of commitment as watching an episode of a TV show (30 or 60min.) -- as opposed to Movie or Mini-series game.

Feel free to modify these embryonic ideas!
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Bryan Thunkd
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FrockLobster wrote:
Aside from the inherently condescending nature of the word (filler is what you play presumably in between Real Games, to "fill" in)

As that is precisely what I mean by the term it seems appropriate.
 
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Daniel Fish
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Who wants "filler" in their hot dogs or their evenings?

If that is how you feel about a game, why play it? Life is too short.

Novel idea - why not just socialize until your friend arrives?

 
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Enrico Viglino
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thefishman wrote:
Who wants "filler" in their hot dogs or their evenings?

If that is how you feel about a game, why play it? Life is too short.




Frankly, I ENJOY things I call filler. I just don't want to play
a whole 12 hours of them. A rubber of bridge, or a euro is nice
in between heavier games.
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Pete Goch
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Because sometimes a hot dog is just what you want! I mean would you really go to baseball game without getting one?

Besides, aren't games supposed to be inherently social? Particularly the lighter games that allow a lighter, ahem, less intensely contemplative playing experience? So the activities aren't actually mutually exclusive!
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Daniel Fish
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A game that is easy to explain, fun, and can be played in under an hour? I'd call it:

Easy entry

Broadly appealing

Likely to sell well

Likely for me to play again

Or more poetically:

Sorbet (light and delicious)

Bon-bons (small, satisfying, but leaving you wanting another immediately)
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Leonard Moses II
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Games you play when you are tired, lazy, or don't have a lot of time. Basically you probably don't want to think too hard.

I love fillers, and they serve a purpose. The term filler doesn't bother me.
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Attempting to impose new terminology on things that have a fairly well agreed upon terminology that was arrived at organically does not have a high rate of success. If you want the term to change, just start using a different term and maybe it will catch on.
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Frank D.
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Shorty
 
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M B
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"Quickie"

Try shouting "Anyone fancy a Quickie" in a games group.
The number of red faces.......devil
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Mike Jones
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Frock Lobster
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calandale wrote:

Frankly, I ENJOY things I call filler. I just don't want to play
a whole 12 hours of them. A rubber of bridge, or a euro is nice
in between heavier games.

Ah, there's a big distinction. I usually play games for a few hours, not 12. The last time I had a block of 12 hours to play games was probably 20 years ago.
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