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Subject: First board game to use 'Meeples' rss

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James Sherriff
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I still consider myself a 'Noob' when it comes to board gaming but was Carcassonne the first game to introduce/use the concept of 'Meeples'?
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Louis Brenton
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It's the first one I'm aware of, but I'm certainly no expert.
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Müller & Sohn, 1984.

The shape has altered over time, so it really depends on what criteria defines "meeple". These are linear carved tokens.
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It really depends on your definition. Do you mean the first game to use the term? It may be Carcassone if that's your definition. If you just mean little wooden tokens to represent people/etc, then you might make a good argument for chess.
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For trying to define what a "meeple" even is (which seems necessary to answer this thread's question). I'll point to an old thread + poll I made...
Poll: What exactly is a meeple?
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Marc Hawkins
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superman829 wrote:
It's the first one I'm aware of, but I'm certainly no expert.
Does Carcassonne actually use the term "meeple" or is it one that the community applies to it? I don't recall ever seeing the term in the rules or anywhere.
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The Carcassonne rulebook doesn't refer to them as "meeples". It calls them "followers". Which was very confusing when I was trying to explain the game to a friend of mine, talking about how to play his meeples, and he kept saying, "What are meeples? It says right here in the rulebook these things are called Followers."

I believe someone coined the term "meeple" while playing Carcassonne, though.
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Source = Wiktionary, so take this for what it's worth, but:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meeple

(Allegedly coined by one Alison Hansel during a 2000 game of Carcassonne)
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LaughingTulkas wrote:
If you just mean little wooden tokens to represent people/etc, then you might make a good argument for chess.
Not really. Hnefatafl is at least a thousand years older than Western Chess as you know it and probably a bit older than Chess's root game of Chaturaṅga -- which itself seems to have been played with parts from an even older game. So while your general point that the first game to use carved tokens to represent people is an ancient game, your specific example cannot possibly be the most ancient of them.



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The modern "Meeple" shape started in Carcassonne, yes, but the name came from elsewhere.
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ChipChuck wrote:
The modern "Meeple" shape started in Carcassonne, yes, but the name came from elsewhere.
That seems backwards: I've frequently read of the word "meeple" starting with Carcassonne players, but it seems such figures existed in some form before Carcassonne. (Links for both assertions appear in various earlier comments in the thread.)
 
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Tomello Visello
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parapalooka wrote:
Source = Wiktionary, so take this for what it's worth, but:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meeple
Also for what it's worth: Note carefully the complete absence of citations.

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TVis wrote:
parapalooka wrote:
Source = Wiktionary, so take this for what it's worth, but:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meeple
Also for what it's worth: Note carefully the complete absence of citations.
There may not be any citations there, but do a Google search and you'll find plenty of them. The first documented use of the word came from a posting from Dave Bernazzani, an acquaintance of mine and a noted gamer, who attributed it to Alison. I have never seen any other story about its origin and have every reason to believe that Dave is telling the truth. So as far as I'm concerned, the term came from Ms. Hansel, during a game of Carcassonne.
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Tomello Visello
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Larry Levy wrote:
The first documented use of the word came from a posting from Dave Bernazzani, an acquaintance of mine and a noted gamer, who attributed it to Alison.
I have no particular reason to doubt the connection you report, but you also said "documented". How can that be verified?



On the otherhand, I do have particular reasons for doubting the internet. I found a reference that proclaimed Carcassonne won the "Meeples' Choice Award" in 2000. That sounded suspcious; getting an award named after itself in the year of publication?.

I looked further and found that Settlers of Catan won the same award in 1995. Hmmm. Before term was supposedly invented?


"The Meeples' Choice Award is an award given for board games and card games. It is given by Spielfrieks, an internet discussion group about board and card games."
according to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meeples'_Choice_Award


And checking up on refernces to "Spielfrieks" I get information here
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/spielfrieks/info
that says "Founded :Jan 25, 2000" , where that date does not comply well.



so I figure I'm still allowed an ounce or two of skepticism.




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Quote:
On the otherhand, I do have particular reasons for doubting the internet. I found a reference that proclaimed Carcassonne won the "Meeples' Choice Award" in 2000. That sounded suspcious; getting an award named after itself in the year of publication?.

I looked further and found that Settlers of Catan won the same award in 1995. Hmmm. Before term was supposedly invented?
It could be retroactive naming. For example, the Green Bay Packers won "Super Bowl I", even though the term "Super Bowl" didn't exist for that game at that point.
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https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Meeples_Choice

Meeple's choice didn't start until 2001.

(On a side note, I enjoy that the origin of "Meeple" is turning into an internet conspiracy theory thread...)

Quote:
The Meeples' Choice Award is an award bestowed by Spielfrieks, an internet discussion group devoted to boardgames, with more than a thousand members.

In 2001, the members of Spielfrieks participated in a series of retrospective polls in order to determine awards all the way back to 1995. The three boardgames, released that year, that receive the most votes receive the Meeples' Choice Award. Voting is open to every member of the Spielfriek discussion group. The votes are taken each June, and are limited to games released from the prior year. Three games are selected each year.
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Huzonfirst
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TVis wrote:
[so I figure I'm still allowed an ounce or two of skepticism.
Wow, Tomello, not only are you a skeptic, you're a skeptic that does research!

Your reasons are sound ones, but as has been mentioned by others, the Meeples Choice Awards began in 2001, with the earlier awards being made retroactively. The reason that I know that is, by some weird coincidence, I'm the fellow who administers the awards, and I've been doing so for the last 10 years!

In June of 2001, Stephen Glenn proposed that the Spielfrieks user group vote on their favorite games of the previous calendar year. It was not originally called the Meeples Choice Awards. Stephen called it the Spielfriek Awards and it didn't get renamed until later (possibly not until 2002). I think Mark Johnson was the person who renamed it, as a spinoff of the then-popular People's Choice Awards (which honored entertainers). Obviously, by the time Mark came up with that name, "meeples" had become a fairly ubiquitous term.

After Spielfrieks voted on their favorite 2000 titles back in the summer of 2001 (and yes, Carcassonne was one of the winners), Stephen set up polls for some retroactive awards, taking it back to 1995. The award then became an annual tradition. I started administering it in 2004.

That's more than you ever wanted to know about the history of the Meeples Choice Awards. But they are definitely post-Carcassonne.
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Geosphere wrote:
Müller & Sohn, 1984.

The shape has altered over time, so it really depends on what criteria defines "meeple". These are linear carved tokens.
Those are bags of grain. Meeples is peoples.
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Joe Huber

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TVis wrote:
Larry Levy wrote:
The first documented use of the word came from a posting from Dave Bernazzani, an acquaintance of mine and a noted gamer, who attributed it to Alison.
I have no particular reason to doubt the connection you report, but you also said "documented". How can that be verified?
rec.games.board sufficient?
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Very nice, Joe. Since your Wayback skills are clearly strong, can you find the original post that Bernazzani made about Alison and the naming of meeples? I quoted it in response to a similar question on the Geek back in 2005, so I obviously had access to it then, but I can't find it now. Here's what I quoted:

"Alison Hansel coined the term. It's short for "My People" as she felt the little meeples were uber-cute. Local Massachusetts gamers started to use the term Meeple in numerous session reports that appeared on the 'net, and caught on over time. I've even heard Jay Tummelson use the term. (I'm still waiting for an official Rio Grande Games translation that uses the term.) It was said at an SSG session back in November of 2000. So it is written so let it be known...

"I've seen people refute this and claim that it was used far earlier for some other game... In any event, if the term was used before, it was not known to Alison. In any event, the usage with Carcassonne followers has a very specific origin."
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I thought it was Europa 1945-2030. The pawns in Müller & Sohn look like sacks.
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Aldie wrote:
I thought it was Europa 1945-2030. The pawns in Müller & Sohn look like sacks.
Europa may have been the first game to include a piece that looked like a meeple, Aldie. But Carc was the first game to have a piece called a meeple--at least, according to Dave.
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Larry Levy wrote:
Aldie wrote:
I thought it was Europa 1945-2030. The pawns in Müller & Sohn look like sacks.
Europa may have been the first game to include a piece that looked like a meeple, Aldie. But Carc was the first game to have a piece called a meeple--at least, according to Dave.
Yes, but who called it a meeple? It was certainly not an intended term. One might not learn it if they were gaming in a pre-internet age.
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Having never checked wiktionary, I was taught that meeple means "miniature people"...
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hawk-x- wrote:
Yes, but who called it a meeple? It was certainly not an intended term. One might not learn it if they were gaming in a pre-internet age.
Alison Hansel coined the term.
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