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Subject: New gamers and theme rss

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Jay Noble
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So, Splendor seems to be the current hotness, and I must admit I didn't know much about it. A quick look at the BGG page and I think it's the sort of game I would like, and maybe my gaming group too. But here's the thing... I'll never buy it and likely never play it...

The reason is... Theme.

My gaming group is mainly friends and family who are non-gamers. They like gaming, but it's not a hobby to them. Also, the more 'non-board-gamer' a person is, the more they are likely to want (need!) theme that more closely follows mainstream pop-culture. So a game like Splendor would not immediately appeal, and I know would get overruled in favour of more theme heavy favourites.

For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon

It doesn't matter how good the underlying game is, unless it has a theme that is strong, immediately interesting and to a large extent integral to the game play, they won't bite, or at best would be slightly reluctant to play.

Another example... I could get them to play Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, but not Dominion

I can get them interested in King of Tokyo in a heartbeat, even though the the monsters are not really needed. They will play Zombicide because of the zombies, even though better games exist.

It's sort of ridiculous! But it also interests me.

Have my fellow BGGers found the same?

Do you think that some themes are overdone, and possibly even boring? I have to admit I find some themes a bit dry, which does detract from the game a bit.

Would board gaming appeal more to non-gamers if theme more closely followed pop-culture?

In the meantime I'll hope that Splendor gets a reprint using the Resistance artwork
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Bryan Thunkd
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Stop playing with non-gamers.
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Matt Brown
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Jdoki wrote:
For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon


Humor me, how does The Resistance have more theme than the Avalon version considering the Avalon version has actual known characters in it. and it gives them powers based around them. I'm fine the the regular version, but the theme integration is rather non-existent.
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Bryan Thunkd
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matthean wrote:
Jdoki wrote:
For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon


Humor me, how does The Resistance have more theme than the Avalon version considering the Avalon version has actual known characters in it. and it gives them powers based around them. I'm fine the the regular version, but the theme integration is rather non-existent.
I think his point isn't that it has more theme, but rather that fantasy is an unpalatable theme.
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Tom Randell
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matthean wrote:
Jdoki wrote:
For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon


Humor me, how does The Resistance have more theme than the Avalon version considering the Avalon version has actual known characters in it. and it gives them powers based around them. I'm fine the the regular version, but the theme integration is rather non-existent.


I think they mean themes that are of interest to the group, as opposed to Avalon lacking theme. Dystopian future theme vs. Olde Worlde Camelot I'd guess.
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Tom Randell
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Doh! Beat me to it there Bryan
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Jay Noble
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matthean wrote:
Jdoki wrote:
For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon


Humor me, how does The Resistance have more theme than the Avalon version considering the Avalon version has actual known characters in it. and it gives them powers based around them. I'm fine the the regular version, but the theme integration is rather non-existent.


This is exactly my point.. there's not much sense to it! The Resistance is set in a Sci-Fi world. The Resistance: Avalon is more 'fantasy' art style. Sci-Fi beats Fantasy in the group even if the game is lesser!

Although I do have the Assassin / Merlin promo, and The Inquisitor token which is the equivalent of The Lady of the Lake in my copy of The Resistance. - But even without these, the Sci-Fi setting would be preferred, and we don't generally use these roles.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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I can't relate. When I play with a group of non-gamer friends/family (which happens fairly often), I just pick something and say, "Here's what we're playing. I think you'll like it."
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Joseph Schmoll
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curtc wrote:
I can't relate. When I play with a group of non-gamer friends/family (which happens fairly often), I just pick something and say, "Here's what we're playing. I think you'll like it."


I do the same. I gloss over the theme if it's not something that isn't of interest to them, or if it makes sense compare it to something they are familiar with. We have a friend whose girlfriend isn't much of a gamer (yet enjoys games...). It's the theme that alienates her. So, knowing she was in med school, I brought out Pandemic and told her "I have a game where we save the world from disease!" and she loved it. She told me she was already interested before I opened the box.

I also introduced her to Cosmic Encounter (she has no interest in Sci-Fi or aliens or anything in space) by telling her that we get to conquer each others' planets or territories by using special powers only -YOU- get and teaming up and backstabbing.

It's all a matter of making the parts of the game shine that you think they'd be interested in. If you don't make theme a big deal, they won't think twice about it. If you try and get them to roleplay in accents when you're building a dominion, then you've lost them.

Just my experience.
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Mary Ann Harrison
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I have a similar problem. If the game has a theme, my mom won't play it at all because she's thinks games with theme are 'for kids'. My mother-in-law is a bit better, but she won't play most games with strong theme either unless it's an inoffensive mainstream theme (she likes Acquire, for instance).

It's hard to find games that will be hits with non-gamers! My mother-in-law plays a lot of card games with her widows group (mostly Hand and Foot). I bought her No Thanks! to play with the group, and it was a flop. While my mother-in-law liked it, the other widows thought it was too hard...

I think you just have to try out some different games with non-gamers and see what catches their interest. Then, you can build from there.
 
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Wayne Schulatz
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Jdoki wrote:

Do you think that some themes are overdone, and possibly even boring? I have to admit I find some themes a bit dry, which does detract from the game a bit.


I think I am lucky in the sense that one of the earliest games I ever played in this hobby was Agricola. When I first heard about a board game about farming, I was skeptical. But, I kept an open mind and I now love the game.

This taught me a very important lesson. There are games out there spanning all different themes and all different styles; and there may be a place for many of those games on my shelf. If I tell myself, "I am SO over zombies" I may miss out on a game I could really enjoy.

There are so many amazing games that if I close myself off for any reason before giving a particular game a play I feel I am doing myself a disservice.
 
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Mindy Basi
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For non-gamers, I think the idea of "playing games" evokes childishness. Cards are OK, but card games with themes, well again, that's for kids.

I don't know what the problem is with play, but adults aren't supposed to do it (at least in Western culture). So it's a hard sell to convince people board gaming isn't going to make them feel silly somehow.

I don't know why gambling isn't considered childish, perhaps because it's for money. It is called "gaming" in the industry, even.

Maybe all euros should be played for cash for each VP, that wouldn't seem too childish and would create some drama at end game scoring! Point salad would take on a whole new meaning ...

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Joseph Schmoll
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Kwill2 wrote:
For non-gamers, I think the idea of "playing games" evokes childishness. Cards are OK, but card games with themes, well again, that's for kids.

I don't know what the problem is with play, but adults aren't supposed to do it (at least in Western culture). So it's a hard sell to convince people board gaming isn't going to make them feel silly somehow.

I don't know why gambling isn't considered childish, perhaps because it's for money. It is called "gaming" in the industry, even.

Maybe all euros should be played for cash for each VP, that wouldn't seem too childish and would create some drama at end game scoring! Point salad would take on a whole new meaning ...



And we could market it in Europe as Euros for Euros.

Let's do it and become the richest people with childish hobbies in the world.
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/|\ Roland /|\
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Quote:
In the meantime I'll hope that Splendor gets a reprint using the Resistance artwork


While I would not argue the case of theme in Splendor, I would take exception if you are inferring the Resistance artwork transplanted to Splendor would be an improvement to the latter. I find the artwork pretty damn good for a game with so little theme. And even more unique art as well.
 
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jes m
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If it's people you care about and want to spend time with, my opinion is that you shouldn't mind that they have preferences. My dad absolutely hates playing just about anything unless it's cooperative. So when he's spending time with us, and we want to play a game, we play a cooperative one, even when I might not want to at the moment. The point we are spending that time together.

Luckily for all of us there are thousands of options and a board game for just about any situation.
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Josh Chen
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I would call all my family non gamers except my brother, but he is more of a PC gamer than board games. So in a sense all my gaming partners are non gamers.

I've found out that simple and elegant game works best with the group that I play with. They want something easy to teach and can start to play right away. They don't really care about the theme that much.

What I have found out from them is they like repetition. They don't like learning new games all the time like a regular BGGer. They have phases and months dedicated to just one or two games.
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I'm not sure I agree that "theme" is such an important factor when playing games with non-gamers. If we look outside the BGG community, games like Go, Chess, Backgammon, Mahjong, Poker, and Bridge are immensely more popular than "thematic" games.
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Jay Noble
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curtc wrote:
I can't relate. When I play with a group of non-gamer friends/family (which happens fairly often), I just pick something and say, "Here's what we're playing. I think you'll like it."


Yeah, I can see how that would work in some groups. The bunch I'm stuck with seem to need an engaging theme to really get immersed in.

For example... If I said 'Here's a game about building a farm' they may play it, but the theme just wouldn't immerse them or engage as much as it would if I said 'Here's a game about building a Space Station'. And chances are they'd ask to fall back to one of their favourites.

It's not a big deal. I was just pondering how different groups of gamers / non-gamers react to theme.

 
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Jay Noble
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porkchop_tw wrote:
I would call all my family non gamers except my brother, but he is more of a PC gamer than board games. So in a sense all my gaming partners are non gamers.

I've found out that simple and elegant game works best with the group that I play with. They want something easy to teach and can start to play right away. They don't really care about the theme that much.

What I have found out from them is they like repetition. They don't like learning new games all the time like a regular BGGer. They have phases and months dedicated to just one or two games.


I have found this as well (expect the theme is also important).

We've had gaming nights where the ONLY game played was King of Tokyo. I love the game, but there's only so much a person can take!!
 
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Tahsin Shamma
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Jdoki wrote:
So, Splendor seems to be the current hotness, and I must admit I didn't know much about it. A quick look at the BGG page and I think it's the sort of game I would like, and maybe my gaming group too. But here's the thing... I'll never buy it and likely never play it...

The reason is... Theme.

My gaming group is mainly friends and family who are non-gamers. They like gaming, but it's not a hobby to them. Also, the more 'non-board-gamer' a person is, the more they are likely to want (need!) theme that more closely follows mainstream pop-culture. So a game like Splendor would not immediately appeal, and I know would get overruled in favour of more theme heavy favourites.

For example... I could get the group to play The Resistance, but I would struggle to get them to play The Resistance: Avalon

It doesn't matter how good the underlying game is, unless it has a theme that is strong, immediately interesting and to a large extent integral to the game play, they won't bite, or at best would be slightly reluctant to play.

Another example... I could get them to play Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, but not Dominion

I can get them interested in King of Tokyo in a heartbeat, even though the the monsters are not really needed. They will play Zombicide because of the zombies, even though better games exist.

It's sort of ridiculous! But it also interests me.

Have my fellow BGGers found the same?

Do you think that some themes are overdone, and possibly even boring? I have to admit I find some themes a bit dry, which does detract from the game a bit.

Would board gaming appeal more to non-gamers if theme more closely followed pop-culture?

In the meantime I'll hope that Splendor gets a reprint using the Resistance artwork :)


My wife is similar, but also the opposite. If a game has a theme, it should be something innocuous or palatable so she's not immediately turned off by it. However, certain games I have gotten her to like despite the theme. Lords of Waterdeep she loves because she's able to turn off the theme in her mind.
 
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Roman Kowalewski
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Every time i visit my parents and younger sisters i take a game with me. They all always fine with my pick and have great fun when they play but they don't play like gamers. One of top games is Agricola. They prefer to play normal version and not family one, i read all cards to my 8-years old sister and explain what they do, i may also suggest some strategies. Farm theme is great and when i told them about Caverna: The Cave Farmers where scoring and game overall is easier and you don't have cards but buildings instead they were super exited(i wait for premiere in Poland).

My mother has great problem with monsters of any kind in games. It doesn't matter how cute or funny they may be, Dungeon Petz bleh, King of Tokyo forget it. My father on the other hand loves history in games.

As i think about it it may just be that games are made for a generation familiar with fantasy, superheros or things like Star Wars. It is very likely in my opinion that a game with a theme we can't relate to especially when we don't play games on a regular basis is not too much fun. Not only we don't know what we are doing but also we don't know why.
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