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Subject: Why the hate for Fantasy? rss

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Juan Mejia
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I see a very large percentage (or at least a vocal minority) of people on this site that seem to be firmly against fantasy themes to the point where their enjoyment of the game suffers. I'm just curious as to why?

I personally love fantasy but there's plenty of games I enjoy with themes that I think are dumb but that doesn't take anything away from the game
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Matt Brown
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Likely due to how often the theme is used.
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Clay Hales
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matthean wrote:
Likely due to how often the theme is used.
it never hurt trains...
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Nick Smith
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There are people who get burned out on a theme to the point that they refuse to play it anymore, which I think is a shame, since those games that really are good with that theme then fall by the wayside for no particular reason.

What I think is probably more significant, however, is pre-existing preferences. I have to say you seem to have oversimplified things in your question: it's not just a case of liking or disliking a theme. There are themes I have little interest in, that I may consider stupid or strange, but would have no problem playing if the game was good. But there are other themes that are so boring or repulsive to me that even good gameplay could not necessarily make the experience enjoyable.

I imagine the same is true for many others, whether their specific turnoff is fantasy, sci-fi, farming, trains or finances. Some themes just aren't acceptable for some people.
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For me it's mostly because it often feels very immature and puerile I think. I get embarrassed very easily and the idea of being caught using my level wizard to cast an enchantment spell on a wandering orc really doesn't make me feel comfortable.
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Some people find fantasy very cliched and tropey. There are a lot of recurring themes, such as bands of heroes saving the world from a menacing evil (who wants to rule it for no discernable reason other than to rule it), powerful artifacts that must be protected or reclaimed, evles and dwarves hating one another, etc etc.

Other people find fantasy too out-there. They prefer reality, and look at fantasy as one might look at childrens tales. Its silly nonsense to them.

I adore fantasy, particularly high fantasy. Give me an olde worlde, medieval Tolkien-esque setting with warriors, wizards, orcs dragons and I'm sold. Its easily my most favourite setting or theme.
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Juan Mejia
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
For me it's mostly because it often feels very immature and puerile I think. I get embarrassed very easily and the idea of being caught using my level wizard to cast an enchantment spell on a wandering orc really doesn't make me feel comfortable.

Either way, unless you're playing one of the old school abstracts most the world regards boardgames as childish. If a game is fun does it really matter if you're a wizard or a general?

In fantasy as in all other genres there are fantastic brilliantly written novels, and as in every other genre there's heaps of trash.

Pretending to be a merchant or a prince in a far off age is just as 'Immature' (which is to say not at all) in my opinion.
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Juan Mejia
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spirity wrote:
Some people find fantasy very cliched and tropey. There are a lot of recurring themes, such as bands of heroes saving the world from a menacing evil (who wants to rule it for no discernable reason other than to rule it), powerful artifacts that must be protected or reclaimed, evles and dwarves hating one another, etc etc.

Other people find fantasy too out-there. They prefer reality, and look at fantasy as one might look at childrens tales. Its silly nonsense to them.

I adore fantasy, particularly high fantasy. Give me an olde worlde, medieval Tolkien-esque setting with warriors, wizards, orcs dragons and I'm sold. Its easily my most favourite setting or theme.
Tropes are used in everything though. Many euros have a recurring themes of managing estates or being a merchant. The second one is what I think I find offensive, this idea that it's childish.
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Anthony Simons
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Agent Minivann wrote:
matthean wrote:
Likely due to how often the theme is used.
it never hurt trains...
It did.
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John Austin
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Triceranuke wrote:
spirity wrote:
Some people find fantasy very cliched and tropey. There are a lot of recurring themes, such as bands of heroes saving the world from a menacing evil (who wants to rule it for no discernable reason other than to rule it), powerful artifacts that must be protected or reclaimed, evles and dwarves hating one another, etc etc.

Other people find fantasy too out-there. They prefer reality, and look at fantasy as one might look at childrens tales. Its silly nonsense to them.

I adore fantasy, particularly high fantasy. Give me an olde worlde, medieval Tolkien-esque setting with warriors, wizards, orcs dragons and I'm sold. Its easily my most favourite setting or theme.
Tropes are used in everything though. Many euros have a recurring themes of managing estates or being a merchant. The second one is what I think I find offensive, this idea that it's childish.


I work with a guy who absolutely hates fantasy for that very reason. I tend to play it up by telling him I'm going larping at the weekend, attending a convention in cosplay, or learning how to smith a blade, none of which I've ever done. But it annoys him to no end and I take a weird satisfaction in that.

Hey, lunch breaks can be boring. You gotta spice them up a bit.
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Anthony Simons
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Triceranuke wrote:
I see a very large percentage (or at least a vocal minority) of people on this site that seem to be firmly against fantasy themes to the point where their enjoyment of the game suffers. I'm just curious as to why?

I personally love fantasy but there's plenty of games I enjoy with themes that I think are dumb but that doesn't take anything away from the game


There's a chap in our group who will always refuse to play games involving a space/science fiction theme. He has still played a few games with the theme (I think I might have got him in on a game of Eclipse, and I'm sure he has played Ad Astra), but he shies away from them. I asked him why once, and he said he just doesn't like the theme; there was no long, deep and meaningful reasoning beyond not liking it. So I just accepted it.

I think this is pretty much the answer you should be happy with regarding fantasy; some people just don't like the theme because they don't like fantasy. Everybody is different and will give you a different answer - it's childish, prefer real world themes, it's blasphemous, it's frightening, it's all about killing things, for instance - but that's what it boils down to.

I'm pretty sure fantasy doesn't bother my friend though, just space; at least he's played Elfenland a hell of a lot.
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Juan Mejia
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spirity wrote:
Triceranuke wrote:
spirity wrote:
Some people find fantasy very cliched and tropey. There are a lot of recurring themes, such as bands of heroes saving the world from a menacing evil (who wants to rule it for no discernable reason other than to rule it), powerful artifacts that must be protected or reclaimed, evles and dwarves hating one another, etc etc.

Other people find fantasy too out-there. They prefer reality, and look at fantasy as one might look at childrens tales. Its silly nonsense to them.

I adore fantasy, particularly high fantasy. Give me an olde worlde, medieval Tolkien-esque setting with warriors, wizards, orcs dragons and I'm sold. Its easily my most favourite setting or theme.
Tropes are used in everything though. Many euros have a recurring themes of managing estates or being a merchant. The second one is what I think I find offensive, this idea that it's childish.


I work with a guy who absolutely hates fantasy for that very reason. I tend to play it up by telling him I'm going larping at the weekend, attending a convention in cosplay, or learning how to smith a blade, none of which I've ever done. But it annoys him to no end and I take a weird satisfaction in that.

Hey, lunch breaks can be boring. You gotta spice them up a bit.

If you've never gone to a con in cosplay, I really recommend it. The community is amazing.
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Antti Karjalainen
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A lot of good points have been raised about fantasy. My personal preference is sci-fi, as fantasy seems to take the easy route on how the world works. If someone does something extraordinary, it's always magic. Magic is the end-all-be-all of explanations in fantasy. It's way too neat an excuse. In science fiction the same extraordinary feats are explained through bio-engineering, nanobots and tons of technologies. Even if the excuses/explanations are rather shallow at times, science fiction still tries to explain how and why things work as they do.
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Robert Grainger
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Koldfoot wrote:
Why play boring fantasy themes when you can build exciting powergrids, ponder over best railroad routes, trade beans, build thrilling temples, and totally screw your opponent by placing your ice cream stand in the best spot in a zoo?

Is there really a question here? Don't even get me started on the mind blowing experience that is raising sheep.


To me, though, those themes are all much more interesting than another fantasy game. I used to enjoy fantasy-themed games (played much D&D back in the 80s/90s), but as I got older, I got sick of it, and now I just find it a bit naff and derivative. I'd also put space fantasy into this category.

Playing a board game for me is much better if the theme is something I haven't played before, even if it's not an activity I'd want to do in the real world.
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Ron Olivier, Sr.
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Great question. Just a few random thoughts on the subject.

I think what puts some people off about Fantasy games (and to a lesser degree some Sci-fi games) is that many of them use concepts, words, themes and situations that are unfamiliar to people. New players have enough of a task sorting out the rules and strategy without having to remember what powers come with the Golden Ring of Andorfin or how long the Magical Shield of Healing lasts before needing new batteries. You gotta remember all that for a 90-minute board game? Hardly seems worth it.

For my own personal enjoyment, I care less about a game's theme than how well it plays. A board game is really nothing more than a bunch of game mechanics in disguise. The problem is finding a disguise that fits. Puerto Rico would work just as well if it were dwarves mining different metals and gems that get loaded onto ox-carts or traded for drinks at the local pub. But simply setting something in the realm of dwarves, fairies, or aliens doesn't propel it into the realm of fantasy.

I host board game nights now and then, and when I pick up new games for my collection, I tend to think of games that are fairly straightforward to explain. When I explain Suburbia, for example, I don't need to explain why building a freeway next to a residential neighborhood is bad. Most people can figure that out - even without reading the tiles involved. But is building an Class Q Alien Spaceport next to the Gamma Colony good or bad? We won't know unless we read the tile!

Still, there are people who love to immerse themselves into these other worlds and realities. It's no coincidence that these alternate realms are far superior in RPG's to the themes that are dominant in the board gaming world. Would you rather role-play going on a quest to find the lost artifacts of your race's forefathers, or role-play a family farmer? "Fetch the truck, then I'll roll me some dice to see if there's enough gas to make it into town to buy fertilizer...Ma, you stay here and feed them young 'uns!" shake
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Jonathan Challis
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HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
Just not the reliance on magic and religion.


Yet, you adhere to the same superstitions in the real world? shake
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Most people has some specific tastes.
What is tasty to one is awful to another.

If you wonder why some players don't like fantasy ask a similar question for books or movies. There are lots of good fantasy books and movies but many people won't read or watch it and even if they did they will be bored after 5 minutes.

Everyone has it's own tastes from which they tend hobbies (like fantasy theme).
So if someone is collecting stamps and would ask you to collect it as well, would you enjoy it or the first thought would be that it is most boring hobby on Earth?
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C Bazler
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My problem with fantasy is that I have associations with it from my childhood. In junior high, I loved fantasy fiction, Tolkien, etc. and I was heavily into D&D for five or six years. Now, 20 years later, I tend to think back on it as "kids' stuff." For similar reasons, I also don't have any interest in comic books, He-Man, or Thundercats.

I love Game of Thrones, though! (I'm currently 3/4 of the way through Book 5).
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Crow
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I just wish more Fantasy was recognized beyond Tolkien and his derivatives. It's popularity has completely co-opted the genre in most of the general populace.

(Is this a good place to point out Star Wars is really Fantasy ... not Sci-Fi? No? Okay then, I won't do that!)

(Also, that's not a derogatory statement. I'm a fan of both genres.)
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What are the examples of fantasy hate? I just haven't seen it here.
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
Kelanen wrote:
HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
Just not the reliance on magic and religion.


Yet, you adhere to the same superstitions in the real world? shake


No I do not.


Your identifying yourself as religious suggests otherwise.

As to the topic at hand, I have to say this is the first I hear of people here on BGG being vocally against fantasy. How have I missed all that?
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James Solow
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Fantasy games are usually a large time commitment (D&d) and divorced from the real world (using your imagination with abstraction and math). I think that some people don't like this aspect.
The same people who hate on fantasy games love things like How to Train your Dragon or Sci-fi stuff.
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
For me it's mostly because it often feels very immature and puerile I think. I get embarrassed very easily and the idea of being caught using my level wizard to cast an enchantment spell on a wandering orc really doesn't make me feel comfortable.


What's kind of funny is I've seen the reverse when introducing experienced D&D/MtG/Star Wars etc players to euros. Some people who like these types of game are initially embarrassed to be playing some "shipping in the mediterranean" game, not because it's immature, but because it's a theme outside of their sphere of comfort. I guess the themes of some euros do seem unfun or work-like in comparison. The response can be initially something like "what in the world are you guys playing." But if you slap a sci-fi or fantasy theme on there (a la Lords of Waterdeep) it suddenly becomes much more acceptable for this crowd.
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Anthony Simons
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HawkeyeLonewolf wrote:
You asked. I'll answer. I'll get flamed.

As a Christian the fantasy theme offends me. Usually it's over the top with many gods, goddesses, demons, etc. and in the context of the game they are supposed to be real, so I prefer not to have part in it. I've played RPGs before where that aspect was toned down but even in my youth preferred Traveller to D&D.

If you're a Christian and not bothered, that's your call but please don't derail this thread trying to convince me I'm wrong. The OP asked why.

I do love the medieval theme though. Just not the reliance on magic and religion. So I stick with sci-fi which avoids such.


Interestingly, another thread discusses the history of related issues and the fantasy theme, referencing a recent BBC News article:

BBC News Magazine: What was behind the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons panic?
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Why play fantasy games when I can play another game set in renaissance Europe where I'll trade something for something?
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