brant G
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

The Joy of Discovery, or A Love-Letter to a Bygone Era of Gaming

Quote:
One of the great tragedies that the internet has brought about in the gaming world is the loss of a sense of wonder and discovery of a brand new game that no one else has heard of. One of my first tasks whenever I would get to a new town was to find a local game shop. Back then, things were all very different. There were no chain stores, unless you counted the book stores in the mall (though to be fair, there still aren’t any in the gaming world). Every game store in every town was different. They all had their own different unique games in stock that catered to the whims of the staff.

Since there was very little uniformity from store to store , and the gaming marketplace was much more fragmented, you never knew what you would find in those local game stores. Moreover, if you found something off the wall, it was almost guaranteed that no one back in your gaming group had heard of it, because there was no internet for everyone to hop on and find out about the same games all at the same time.

In my own explorations, I ran across all sorts of interesting nuggets and obscure games that would hardly be categorized as obscure today, because someone would’ve already read about them online. It’s not that they have any wider appeal than they did before, but they almost certainly have wider distribution and knowledge of that distribution thanks to the web.


10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Debien
United States
Round Rock
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So, ignorance was cool? Sorry, not buying this line. I understand what the writer is getting at, but the cost of this sensawunda is the loss of all this knowledge and information.
26 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Yoder
United States
Middleton
WI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
casualgod wrote:
So, ignorance was cool? Sorry, not buying this line. I understand what the writer is getting at, but the cost of this sensawunda is the loss of all this knowledge and information.


And it isn't like every game is good, either. I'd rather spare my cash and my time and get something I enjoy, thankyouverymuch.
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
He is mistakenly attributing his time-fuzzed memories of Days of Yore for his ability to have "a sense of wonder".

What naive crap. A sense of wonder relies on the individual, not on the current technology level of information exchange.

And if he thinks everyone is reading about each and every new game, all the time, he is not in touch with reality on that score, either. I'm regularly bringing new games to my group that nobody has heard of.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David C
United States
Aurora
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
casualgod wrote:
So, ignorance was cool? Sorry, not buying this line. I understand what the writer is getting at, but the cost of this sensawunda is the loss of all this knowledge and information.


This is probably the most interesting topic in General Gaming in quite some time to muse-on.

I remember not having any knowledge of seeing "The Island of Doctor Moreau" before seeing it. I just saw it on a whim with my friend having no knowledge of it. That made the movie like 100x better, because I was discovering it.

Same thing with the Matrix. Saw that before all the spoilers. Really neat.

In both cases, they made movies that have been reviewed as mediocre, awesome. I tried to convince my wife how awesome the Matrix was, and, well... in doing so, I had to concede that "Point Break" was a better movie with Keanu, and it wasn't all that good. For me, seeing the Matrix is rediscovering that 'wow', and it makes the movie bearable. For my wife, she knows the premise and it's just demonstrating that premise...and it sucks.

Which, oddly enough, is the opposite of our gaming purchases. "Run for your life, Candyman" and "Fruit Fair" are both my wife's discoveries that I'm down for playing, but isn't nearly as exciting to me as it is to my spouse.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Reda
United States
Herndon
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
Guess the games in my uberbadge!
badge
My favorite game is Cosmic Encounter.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't think anyone really benefits from not having access or easy exposure to great games. I am thrilled to be able to get to these games either at a local store or direct from an internet source.

The reality is, there is very much still a sense of discovery. There are a LOT more games out there now than there were 20+ years ago when I was really getting into gaming. The internet does a really good job of helping people to make these discoveries. BGG alone has been an invaluable resource in that regard.

And because there are so many more games, when I go into a local store I always see something I didn't know about. I discovered Pandemic at a local store, and Neuroshima Hex, and Descent, and many other games. I don't think it's a "problem" or that discovery is diminished if most of the same games can be found at most game stores... the sheer volume means you'll still find wonderful new games.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David C
United States
Aurora
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
...and on an aside, discovering the unknown has to be at least part of kickstarter's appeal.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bippi wrote:
...and on an aside, discovering the unknown has to be at least part of kickstarter's appeal.


Not for me, at least. I don't invest in a kickstarter project unless and until I've read everything I can find on the matter. I'm not a big fan of throwing money at something the success of which is highly speculative.

"Discovery" is not an absolute. It is always relative. I started buying boardgames around 1968, and I would never have dreamed of buying a game without knowing some things about it, first. Heck, even the title usually tells you something. So, I ask you, if you were a baseball fan, would you buy every, single boardgame ever made covering baseball, or would you be somewhat selective? And in being selective, don't you compromise your "sense of wonder"?

Hell, I had much less money, back then, to spend on games - I had to be far more selective then, than I do, now.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Edwards
United States
Nashville
Tennessee
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eh, I can somewhat empathize with the sentiments OP quotes. I'm only 28, so I can't really speak about a time that was completely pre-Internet. But I do somewhat miss the days when my parents would take me to the hobby or toy store and I could look at all the cool new games I'd never heard of. Nowadays, when I go into a store to look at games, it's pretty rare that I can see a box and not know at least something about the game, or at least extrapolate things about it from the designer and publisher. But I don't think the sense of mystery and discovery is totally gone, it's just moved to the Internet where I look at pictures and watch videos instead of hold the box in my hand. I still get a tangible rush when I come across a video review and think "that looks perfect for me!" And I'm not all that sad about it; I've been burned on enough bad games bought on a whim that I don't want to buy anything else unless I basically already know how to play it. Any sense of wonder I'm missing I think has more to do with nostalgia for youth/childhood than the pre-Internet shopping specifically.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ray
United States
Mansfield
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Matthew 10: 29-31
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I lived in this era as well. The result was playing mediocre at best games, being dependant on stores to have a game, and having relatively no one to talk to about games.

I like the current state.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Troy Winfrey
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Avalon Hill and some of the other "giants" (SPI, etc...but it was a relative term) spent quite a bit of time reporting on their own products in various fora, including their catalogs. How were they received? If you liked this, would you like that? How hard was it to play? Etc.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jennifer Derrick
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I can see what the writer is getting at. I can remember the days of not knowing anything about anything...books, movies, games, etc. until you saw it in the store (or the ever-awesome Sears Christmas catalog). There was a sense of "Ooooh, look at that!" that's harder to come by today.

But, there can still be a sense of discovery today, if you allow there to be. You can tune out a lot of the electronic and media noise if you want to and go into things with very little knowledge. Or not. These days, it's up to you and that's a good thing. You can spend your time trawling the hotness here, or checking movie spoiler sites, or whatever you want to do to give you advance knowledge of something. Or you can walk into the store or theater cold and pick something that just looks cool.

I'd much prefer to have the choice, to be able to govern my "sense of wonder" myself. There have been times when I've chosen to shut it all out and be surprised, and times when I've learned everything I can about something beforehand. But that was my choice. Way better to me than forced ignorance!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zoe M
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm so glad to have moved past the days of choosing an unknown game in the game store based solely on the theme, and often finding that it wasn't actually very good. I'd rather spend my money on games that I'll enjoy more.

And there are still plenty of good obscure games to be discovered. I was really excited to unexpectedly discover Fealty last month; it's ranked in the 1300s and is already a few years old, but a 6.96 average rating is solid enough that it would be in the 400s or even 300s if more people had voted. If that's too common for you, I'm sure you can find even more hidden gems farther down the ranking list.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The Fire
United States
Warwick
RI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In the internet's defense, I probably wouldn't have discovered my new hobby. thanks to BGG, I was able to zero in on what interested me and start my collection without going broke taking my chances on blind buys.

I had NO idea there were so many options for a solo player.

for me, the discover is still there, it's in all the new games I can read about and the discoveries I make in the games I end up purchasing.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adrian Walker
Australia
flag msg tools
3+4MoreFun
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Whilst being young enough that this doesn't really apply, I find most of my best purchases were ones that were so lowly ranked on BGG that I wouldn't have sought them out. This is why I much prefer FLGS to shopping online.

The best example of this for me is Reiner Knizia's Kingdoms. Criminally underrated on BGG, everyone I have shown it to who has a games collection has bought a copy. For some, it started their collection.

The sense of discovery is still possible, but you have to look for it (how meta?)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mb
DarrellKH wrote:
He is mistakenly attributing his time-fuzzed memories of Days of Yore for his ability to have "a sense of wonder".

What naive crap. A sense of wonder relies on the individual, not on the current technology level of information exchange.


I'm not convinced. It seems to me that the serendipitous is a potential
generator for wonder. If anything, being able to research games in
advance lets me know too much about them - and get my hopes up. So, I
end up disappointed more often than pleasantly surprised.

The couple early picks I made when I first got back into gaming here
impressed the shit out of me - in a manner similar to the first games
I found so many years ago. But now, now that I hunt and learn about
games? It feels like I know too much before buying. Necessary (after
a slew of less liked finds), but the magic isn't there, even with things
that I find myself liking.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
calandale wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
He is mistakenly attributing his time-fuzzed memories of Days of Yore for his ability to have "a sense of wonder".

What naive crap. A sense of wonder relies on the individual, not on the current technology level of information exchange.


I'm not convinced. It seems to me that the serendipitous is a potential
generator for wonder. If anything, being able to research games in
advance lets me know too much about them - and get my hopes up. So, I
end up disappointed more often than pleasantly surprised.

The couple early picks I made when I first got back into gaming here
impressed the shit out of me - in a manner similar to the first games
I found so many years ago. But now, now that I hunt and learn about
games? It feels like I know too much before buying. Necessary (after
a slew of less liked finds), but the magic isn't there, even with things
that I find myself liking.


I think you, and the writer of the article, both suffer too much from the cynicism of age. It's easy to blame a lack of a sense of wonder on how the world has changed since you were a kid. What might be more difficult is protecting that sense of wonder while life strips away the naïveté.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mb
DarrellKH wrote:
calandale wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
He is mistakenly attributing his time-fuzzed memories of Days of Yore for his ability to have "a sense of wonder".

What naive crap. A sense of wonder relies on the individual, not on the current technology level of information exchange.


I'm not convinced. It seems to me that the serendipitous is a potential
generator for wonder. If anything, being able to research games in
advance lets me know too much about them - and get my hopes up. So, I
end up disappointed more often than pleasantly surprised.

The couple early picks I made when I first got back into gaming here
impressed the shit out of me - in a manner similar to the first games
I found so many years ago. But now, now that I hunt and learn about
games? It feels like I know too much before buying. Necessary (after
a slew of less liked finds), but the magic isn't there, even with things
that I find myself liking.


I think you, and the writer of the article, both suffer too much from the cynicism of age. It's easy to blame a lack of a sense of wonder on how the world has changed since you were a kid. What might be more difficult is protecting that sense of wonder while life strips away the naïveté.


I don't think I've aged all that much in the last couple years.

What happened is that I discovered whole new realms of gaming
that I didn't know about. Now, with knowledge, I'm more jaded -
just as I was with the earlier designs. It is the unexpected which
brings wonder. Obviously though, the more you experience, the less
that can be unexpected.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It is not the unexpected that brings wonder - the unexpected brings surprise. The unimagined brings wonder, and that can happen regardless of previous experience.

Hell, I can look at game designs that are twenty or thirty years old, now, and still feel a sense of wonder at their accomplishments.

Now, is it less likely with age? Yes, because the more you experience, the more that fills the previously unimagined. But to let that process crush your ability to feel a sense of wonder is a grievous mistake, and a byproduct of increased cynicism.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zoe M
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it's possible to use BGG as a research tool without finding out so much detail that you ruin your sense of wonder. I can generally assess whether I'll like a game just on the basis of average rating, mechanics, and theme. Basically, if it includes elements I like, doesn't include elements I dislike, and is generally well-regarded, it's probably a pretty safe bet.

There's a lot of space between the two extremes of total ignorance and total research.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
brant G
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
well, it was intended to stir some memories for those of us who are old enough to remember how cool it was to show up at your gaming group with something no one else there had ever seen, and how cool it was to flip through something you'd never heard of.

But I guess Google and BGG and RPG.net have made this world a little too perfect for everyone.

YMMV

Mine clearly has.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm constantly showing up at my game group with something nobody there has ever seen.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David C
United States
Aurora
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
bayonetbrant wrote:

The Joy of Discovery, or A Love-Letter to a Bygone Era of Gaming

Quote:
One of the great tragedies that the internet has brought about in the gaming world is the loss of a sense of wonder and discovery of a brand new game that no one else has heard of. One of my first tasks whenever I would get to a new town was to find a local game shop. Back then, things were all very different. There were no chain stores, unless you counted the book stores in the mall (though to be fair, there still aren’t any in the gaming world). Every game store in every town was different. They all had their own different unique games in stock that catered to the whims of the staff.

Since there was very little uniformity from store to store , and the gaming marketplace was much more fragmented, you never knew what you would find in those local game stores. Moreover, if you found something off the wall, it was almost guaranteed that no one back in your gaming group had heard of it, because there was no internet for everyone to hop on and find out about the same games all at the same time.

In my own explorations, I ran across all sorts of interesting nuggets and obscure games that would hardly be categorized as obscure today, because someone would’ve already read about them online. It’s not that they have any wider appeal than they did before, but they almost certainly have wider distribution and knowledge of that distribution thanks to the web.




I hate to bump this thread, but I feel like it's worth mentioning ...

While I romanticize this idea of discovery:
Someone said this before, but, I'm sure someone at least read the back of the box. Sure, they didn't peel through 47 video reviews and read the rulebooks, but buying it sight-unseen and hoping it works out isn't something that we've ever done as a people. Books have had covers since before Gutenburg.

...and secondly... When I get a crappy solo experience, I shrug and go onto the next thing. When I get a bunch of friends together, I want it to be absolutely amazeballs. So the idea of, "trust me, this should be cool" is risking the limited minutes we all have on this earth on something potentially crappy.

But it sucks to...
By the time I get a chance to play something for the first time, half the people have gotten good at it, and the other half have gotten tired of it. (I'm looking at you, Puerto Rico!) So how do I find the gamers that haven't yet heard of it or played a derivative?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carter
United States
Marion
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bayonetbrant wrote:
well, it was intended to stir some memories for those of us who are old enough to remember how cool it was to show up at your gaming group with something no one else there had ever seen, and how cool it was to flip through something you'd never heard of.

But I guess Google and BGG and RPG.net have made this world a little too perfect for everyone.

YMMV

Mine clearly has.


That still happens with my game groups. I showed up to a recent game day with Panic on Wall Street!, which nobody but me had heard of. Nobody knew about Mascarade until I brought it and I hadn't heard of The Palaces of Carrara until someone else brought it. This game group is populated by people who have been in the hobby for many years and attend conventions.

There are so many games currently out and more coming out every year that it's hard for anyone to have complete knowledge of the hobby.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean Conroy
United States
Winchester
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The author has a point onto much immersion in technology, but I also think they give the Internet a little too much credit. I don't spend hours scouring BGG or Kickstarter for the next new thing,

Since I started gaming in the mid '90s, the people I have gamed with have been far more instrumental in introducing new games to me than any Internets. My humble beginnings were MB's Axis & Allies, Empire Builder (Pre Mexico) Daytona 500 and my first wargame Midway Smithsonian Edition, those grew into the collection of 79 games + 16 expansions I have today.

Air Baron, Fortress America, Power Grid, Carcassonne, Advanced Civ, Sentinels of the Multiverse, and many more were first brought to the table by fellow gamers. I had great fun every time and went on to buy some of these titles for my own.

So, I submit that the best way to encounter new games is from other gamers, and NOT on that lonely quest to find the unknown. I'll wager the people the author played with got more out of the experience than he did, bringing the game to them.

Plus, you get to test drive a game before you commit.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.