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Subject: Why are Cthulhu Games Popular? rss

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Nathan Rine
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This isn't to say I don't get the appeal of Lovecraft no it's more rationalize what's the fun in them? I mean they all seem to imply you are so going to die... Constantly. Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die? (even if I bought a 20 Steam Mythos game)
 
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Bob Nelson
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Lovecraft is like life in that way....everyone is going to die

Plus it is public domain so you don't have to pay any money to license the setting...

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Freelance Police
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Do a search on "appeal of Lovecraft".

Lovecraft appeared when horror was defined as the Universal Studios monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, etc. Lovecraft was something else entirely, and while it's nihilistic, the stories *sometimes* had that glimmer of hope of holding back the end for just a little bit.
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Nathan Rine
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I didn't realize he was around that era that he was 1800s.
 
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Paul Shabatowski
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Because....

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

The cyclical development of horror in American literature began with the most basic of fears as characterized by Poe: premature burial and neurotic human behavior. Lovecraft took the basic fears and evolved into into something with a substantial mythos and extraterrestrial origin to magnify the fear of the unknown.

In essence it is this fear of the unknown that drives us. That fear of the unknown makes us contemplate in the darkest hours and the darkest recess of our minds whether or not that next Cthulu themed game will be crappy or not. That fear of the unknown which makes us contemplate whether that Cthulu theme is just pasted on or not. Even just writing this now makes me question my sanity.

Besides, it helped to make that Iron Maiden cover of Live After Death come alive so it must help in the theme of a board game. How could it not?
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Giovanni Wassen
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Because when Vikings are going to Mars, they need something to be afraid of.
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Nigel Buckle
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I think part of it is the suspension of disbelief is quite easy.

Most people can remember being irrationally afraid of something as a child (the closet, under the bed, the creepy house at the end of the road etc) and it resonates with that.

Also it hooks into conspiracy theories - there IS something out there trying to destroy the world, but you are one of the few people who know.

The setting is familiar - it's our world (usually set in the 1920's, but most people have some familarity with that), not some fantasy/scifi background.

Plus the heroes are regular people rather than super-heroes, so it's easy to connect with them.

Finally most of these games are co-ops and people quite like thematic games that tell a story that aren't all about the winning (or optimising your vp generating engine etc), and co-ops shouldn't be 'easy'.
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Chris
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People are largely correct, but they've missed the main reason:

The mother-effer is out of copyright. He's essentially public domain at this point, which means it suddenly became a Cthulhu meme-bang in 1987 / 2007 as various jurisdictions notions of IP ran out.

I don't buy this "The mythos is so appealling / mysterious" cobblers. So few of the games treat the subject in the way that the actual Lovecraft books treated it that I doubt people are buying in because it has conceptual mindshare.

It's much more usually treated as an IP-unencumbered Kaiju / Andromeda Strain proxy at this point.
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Nathan Rine
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That I suppose is true to add to this the game I bought Darkest Dungeon I like it cuz the themes of trying to save a village from despair is interesting and I just like the monsters haha.
 
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Mike Jones
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Because zombies are dying out and pirates are so over
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Steve B
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The only reason they are popular is because game designers are lazy people.

We get so many crappy themes from designers who spend maybe 10 minutes thinking of a theme. It is quite nice when a designer decides to be even more lazy than that, and just plaster a Cthulu theme onto a game. At least then it's a theme by one of the greatest authors of all time, that actually had some thought put into it.

The theme is now becoming more and more popular, almost as popular as the unimaginative themes of farming and trains, so perhaps soon designers will discover more themes that are license-free.
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Martin Larouche
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The Cthulhu Mythos is a fully realized "dark fantasy" universe on it's own. That's now free for everybody to tap into.

Imagine if Star Wars became free tomorrow... We'd have two dozens Star Wars games every month coming out. Boba Fett would come back from the dead and die every week.
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Ole Richard Tuft
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BardicSkaven wrote:
This isn't to say I don't get the appeal of Lovecraft no it's more rationalize what's the fun in them? I mean they all seem to imply you are so going to die... Constantly. Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die? (even if I bought a 20 Steam Mythos game)


I'd suggest the fact that you are almost guaranteed to die is a part of the answer. In large parts of the civilized world, life has ceased to be a struggle to survive, yet we crave it, and seek to recreate it through other means. Some go basejumping. Some play first-person shooters. Some battle the almost unstoppable forces of Cthulhu & co.
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Magic Pink
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Why are threads where the OP challenges what people like so popular?
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Michael Iachini
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I think part of why these threads pop up and are well-trafficked is that the Lovecraft mythos takes some people by surprise after they get into the tabletop gaming hobby.

Take me, for instance. I've always been interested in nerdy pursuits, especially Tolkien-style fantasy and some sci-fi. I knew about Dungeons and Dragons. I played Magic: The Gathering.

Then I shifted toward board games and tabletop role-playing games, and I started seeing Lovecraft show up everywhere, and I just didn't get it. There are lots of passionate fans of these games, and it was all very alien to me.

See, fantasy and zombies and sci-fi are pretty well-known in the popular culture. But somehow Lovecraftian horror is not. It's ubiquitous in the tabletop hobby, but very niche outside of it. Which makes it really confusing when a person gets into the hobby and sees it all over the place.

The lack of IP protection is, I agree, the main reason that it gets used so much by publishers. But it's also that a lot of tabletop game players seem to really like it. Beowulf, Shakespeare, Arabian Nights, Canterbury Tales... those are all out of copyright as well, but you don't see too many games based on them.

Lovecraft uniquely hits this balance of being abundant within the hobby and nearly unknown outside of it. That leads to a lot of "What is the deal with this?" discussions.
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Martin Larouche
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Tufturk wrote:
BardicSkaven wrote:
This isn't to say I don't get the appeal of Lovecraft no it's more rationalize what's the fun in them? I mean they all seem to imply you are so going to die... Constantly. Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die? (even if I bought a 20 Steam Mythos game)


I'd suggest the fact that you are almost guaranteed to die is a part of the answer. In large parts of the civilized world, life has ceased to be a struggle to survive, yet we crave it, and seek to recreate it through other means. Some go basejumping. Some play first-person shooters. Some battle the almost unstoppable forces of Cthulhu & co.


Well i doubt that all that has any relevance to the current flood of boardgames that are Cthulhu-based.

Not when half the games are cross between My Little Pony and Cthulhu and the other half let's you shotgun the face of Cthulhu for a reward of 10,000XP.
 
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Roger Dodger
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My wife and I decided a few weeks ago that we will play Arkham Horror at least twice this weekend since we both have Monday off work.

She woke up today chatting about it.

She talked the whole ride to the gym today about which character she wants to play (Silas Marsh, I think).

She talked the whole way home from the gym today about which expansion she wants to play most (The King in Yellow is her favorite right now).

She brought it up again just now as she was heading out the door with the kids, asking me which investigator I will be using and asking my son if he wants to play with us.

This is why Cthulhu games are popular. Once you get a taste, you're hooked.

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Big Rob
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Insanity / madness... terror... ancient powerful beings from beyond our realm and realm of experience... that's scary, and we frequently associate scary books/movies/games with fun. So I'd say it is basically because it's a theme that people have fun playing

(Seriously, who doesn't find the thought of going mad frightening?)


Oh, and Cabin in the Woods... watch that movie!
 
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Cris Whetstone
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Triboluminous wrote:
People are largely correct, but they've missed the main reason:

The mother-effer is out of copyright. He's essentially public domain at this point, which means it suddenly became a Cthulhu meme-bang in 1987 / 2007 as various jurisdictions notions of IP ran out.

I don't buy this "The mythos is so appealling / mysterious" cobblers. So few of the games treat the subject in the way that the actual Lovecraft books treated it that I doubt people are buying in because it has conceptual mindshare.

It's much more usually treated as an IP-unencumbered Kaiju / Andromeda Strain proxy at this point.


This. There are just not that many people into this mythos to really support to numbers of games dedicated to it the way there are people into things like Star Wars, Marvel or most any other horror universe. But Cthulhu is geeky enough, people know the name and it's free. I think also even if someone hasn't really dove into the material outside of gaming, if they liked one game then they are more likely to try another of the same subject.
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Ole Richard Tuft
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deedob wrote:
Tufturk wrote:
BardicSkaven wrote:
This isn't to say I don't get the appeal of Lovecraft no it's more rationalize what's the fun in them? I mean they all seem to imply you are so going to die... Constantly. Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die? (even if I bought a 20 Steam Mythos game)


I'd suggest the fact that you are almost guaranteed to die is a part of the answer. In large parts of the civilized world, life has ceased to be a struggle to survive, yet we crave it, and seek to recreate it through other means. Some go basejumping. Some play first-person shooters. Some battle the almost unstoppable forces of Cthulhu & co.


Well i doubt that all that has any relevance to the current flood of boardgames that are Cthulhu-based.

Not when half the games are cross between My Little Pony and Cthulhu and the other half let's you shotgun the face of Cthulhu for a reward of 10,000XP.


I don't know the new games, or whether one is "almost guaranteed to die" in them, I'm thinking about the most popular (BGG-wise) games, from a player's perspective.
 
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Derek Long
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BardicSkaven wrote:
This isn't to say I don't get the appeal of Lovecraft no it's more rationalize what's the fun in them? I mean they all seem to imply you are so going to die... Constantly. Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die? (even if I bought a 20 Steam Mythos game)


There is no rational reason. It is clearly a dark and sinister plot, slowly wrapping its malignant coils around the gaming world, drawing us all in to a world of madness, spinning, out of control, into a void where nothing matters and we confront our insignificance in the face of the eternal chaos. And you have uncovered the edge of this plot. Eyes are upon you, watching, waiting, brooding... can you feel them? Can you sense the alien threat behind the veil?
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Dave B.
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I've tried to read a bit of it, and Lovecraft's stuff does nothing for me, really. "There's a monster... and it's a thousand feet tall!" Ooh, I'm terrified. That's not to say I hate the theme; if a game is good, I don't really care if it's Cthulhu-themed. I rather enjoy Elder Sign, but I get absolutely no horror vibe from it.
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secoAce -
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I've been asking this question for a long time too.
Same as with the OP, I don't have anything against Lovecraft but why are most horror themed games based on Cthulu (although truthfully, I wasn't familiar with Lovecraft's work until getting into board games).

The only thing I can think of is that there is no other large horror-setting universe to work with. I mean there are a lot of horror stories that are based on types of monsters: vampires, zombies, frankenstein, werewolves, etc. There are either just stories based on popular well know monster types or specific stories that don't have enough content to create a whole universe setting, such as Poe whose horror stories are not related, for example.

Are there any other big horror setting universes and maybe that can create some ideas for game designers to come up with something different.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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BardicSkaven wrote:
Why is a.. Genre so popular if your almost guaranteed to die?
Interesting. The games I don't care for much are linked by this idea. I don't care for Zombies, Cthulhu, horror games at all, and not so much war and battle games. The exception being Go which is a) abstract and b) the focus is more on establishing territory than on killing things (usually).
 
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Milki Kaplanski
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davidbrit2 wrote:
I've tried to read a bit of it, and Lovecraft's stuff does nothing for me, really. "There's a monster... and it's a thousand feet tall!" Ooh, I'm terrified.


That's exactly what Lovecraft isn't doing tho. It's usually more of a "There is... something. But it's so otherworldly, it can't be described with the words we know."
It's rather rare that Lovecraft offers a clear description of what his creatures actually look like, it's usually more of a description what looking at it does to the mind of the protagonists. Which is why I personally enjoy Lovecraft a lot more than other horror authors.

But I agree that the most likely reason for the rise of Lovecraftian games is the non-copyrighted material. It's cheap to produce these games (especially if you re-use all your art assets in the next game... Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign basically look the same.) and the theme is liked among board gamers. I also agree that most of these games don't really deliver a very Lovecraftian feel tho. But for that there's the Cthulhu Pen & Paper. Would be cool tho, if there'd be a (board) game that gets this feeling of not knowing / comprehending what you're actually dealing with across.
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