amanda w.
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williamsport
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I have read one of the other forums discussing whether there is a generational gap in board gaming. Using that as a springboard I would like to air some concerns of my own. First let me issue a disclaimer--- as with any subject- using sweeping generalizations is dangerous because there are always exception. ALWAYS. With that said I am going to make some- hopefully communicating the acknowledgment of those exceptionalities.
I am interested to see what my fellow boardgamers think.

I am not a supporter of claiming generational differences per se. No matter the time or age, we all have basic human commonalities- the same types of drives. The real basis behind what I think of as generational gaps lies in the evolution of cultural expectations and allowances. Think about how Elvis was received when he came on the scene, now go and turn the tv on and watch a contemporary music video.

As an educator in the public school system, I come in contact with the next generation of board gamers five days a week. I see the qualities that these children hold dear, that have been taught and reinforced and are coming to fruition. Our youth are growing up in a technological age which creates a tendancy toward the desire of immediate gratification. Everything seems geared toward getting what you want as quickly as possible- even I have fallen victim of this urge- I remember when the internet was new on the scene, how long it used to take to load a webpage. I would watch that hourglass spin endlessly. I never got horribly agitated by it until I experienced a faster connection, and then a faster one yet- and now I find myself taping my fingers if a page doesn't load instantly.

The other part of this comes from my fear of how standardized tests may influence the boardgaming potential in our children. My point is not political. I am not trying to say we should or shouldn't have these high stakes tests- I am just curious about the possible ramifications- pro and con. The kids are being taught in a different way than they were a generation ago.

Do you think we are going to see a change in new games developed over the next twenty years or so? Will the games which require lots of thought, planning, and execution fall out of favor to be replaced by games which offer more immediate victories- ones that dont take multiple hours to set up and play? I dont know the answer to these questions. Part of me says- those things which we enjoy- our youth will eventual enjoy as well- and part of me worries maybe not.

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Daniel
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The following are a few random (ie unorganized) thoughts I have:

I am intrigued by your thoughts. I suppose that it could be argued either way, but I would like to have hope that at least a portion of the population will value a good solid game that gets the brain going over cheap, quick entertainment. I say this from personal experience. I used to be much more interested in TV, video games, anything that offered a quicker fix than board games. Now, however, I find myself much more willing to spend the monetary/mental/time investment required by board games. It is even rubbing off on my younger 14-year old brother. He loves it when my wife and I come to visit and really wants to play games.

Anyway, thinking about it, I think while some (like my brother) would accept games requiring thought, others(my brother's friends) would not. It would make sense that the future of games would lie with the majority of the market. I would argue that there will always be a niche market.

I think it is interesting to look backwards in terms of the generational gap. This past weekend, we went to my parents and it was interesting to see how happy my dad is with "standard" games that my family has played for years. My grandma was nice enough to say we had a lot of fun games, but she really doesn't know as she hasn't played anything published less than 50 years ago.

I would say it is our job to instill those we care about with a desire to stretch their boundaries and withdraw from the consumer culture of today. Throughout my university education, I have rarely, if ever, seen a positive side to the "I want it now!" attitude.
 
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Alexander B.
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amwhyman630 wrote:
... Our youth are growing up in a technological age which creates a tendancy toward the desire of immediate gratification. Everything seems geared toward getting what you want as quickly as possible- ...

You say that as if it is a bad thing! We've always wanted to get what we want sooner than later, it is just that techology actually enables us to do so more and more: any age, not just kids. Kids might take it for granted more, but we always take for granted what we see around us as we grow.

amwhyman630 wrote:

Do you think we are going to see a change in new games developed over the next twenty years or so? Will the games which require lots of thought, planning, and execution fall out of favor to be replaced by games which offer more immediate victories- ones that dont take multiple hours to set up and play? I dont know the answer to these questions. Part of me says- those things which we enjoy- our youth will eventual enjoy as well- and part of me worries maybe not.


My feeling on this is that, for some people, thought, planning, and execution are *plesurable* activities; these always have been, are, and always will be the main audience for board games.

If a person *wants* to do these things, then the instant gratification is going to be more about wanted next day shipment on their new Starcraft boardgame than necessarily wanting that game to only take 3 mintues to finish.

Long story short, I see no problem here, only benefits to everyone: technology is a wonderful tool to increase efficiency. Like anything, it can be abused, but its primary function is to save time and let all of us do more of what we'd like to do and less of what we'd rather not.
 
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Guy Riessen
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diamondspider wrote:

My feeling on this is that, for some people, thought, planning, and execution are *plesurable* activities; these always have been, are, and always will be the main audience for board games.

If a person *wants* to do these things, then the instant gratification is going to be more about wanted next day shipment on their new Starcraft boardgame than necessarily wanting that game to only take 3 mintues to finish.


Great points!

The very tool that feeds the instant gratification need, is also what allows gaming to possible in many places where the big box stores and the pablum rule with iron fists and no FLGS can exist.

People have different personality types, some which will be drawn to activities like boardgames, and some who will be indifferent to them, and some who will detest them. But the internet and the global availability of these games allows almost everyone the experience to determine for themselves if the activity is for them regardless of age.

And don't forget, teaching as you do, that many times interests are squelched in the school system due to peer pressure, but they will resurface again once age and wisdom supplants the drive to conform.
 
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Steve Oliver
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Hasbro certainly things that games need to appeal to those who want to play them quickly, they recently released a line of "express" games designed to be played in twenty minutes (Scrabble Express, Risk Express). Also they have games that are "loud" versions of older games (Uno Attack, Big Trouble) which are trying to add a video game element to board games. So there's one company at least that agrees with your idea that games are getting shorter and more video-like.

I ran an after school game club at an elementary school for a few years and some of the students did not have the attention span for board games. These were the students who if you asked them what games they liked, would list off a number of video games. These students also lacked the social skills needed to play board games, such as playing by the rules, waiting for their turn, settling arguments, and playing a game through to the end. But once they were given a chance to play (and enjoy) board games, they quickly picked up the requisite social skills. So I guess my point here is that yes, video games distract kids from board games, but no, all is not lost and the fact that our hobby is growing tends to support that.
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Michael Campbell
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steveoliverc wrote:
...the social skills needed to play board games, such as playing by the rules, waiting for their turn, settling arguments, and playing a game through to the end.


I know some adult board gamers who don't possess these skills.

To the earlier point: I think there is a tendency for every generation to look at the upcoming generation with a critical "in my day, we use to..." attitude.

I think humans are humans. If the "technology-fosters-short-attention-spans" theory were truly valid, boardgames would have completely died out a long time ago. For that matter, sports like baseball and fishing would have died out, too.

Some people are impatient and can't sit still for more than 15 minutes, while others can sit for hours enjoying the slower-paced subtleties of certain activities.

My 10-year daughter, who loves her PS2 and her DS and her iPod, will not hesitate to sit down to a 4-hour game of Runebound with me.

Unfortunately, I think people today are just too busy. I know families that fill every waking hour with activities for themselves and their kids. They're involved in soccer, dance, swim team, music lessons, softball...and the list goes on.

To me, and my family, there is nothing better than a free evening crowded around a table playing Ticket to Ride...or just squeezing together on the couch watching a favorite DVD with a bucket of popcorn.

I actually have hope that the next generation may slow down a bit and enjoy the benefits of "watching the wheels go 'round and 'round" (to quote Mr. Lennon).
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Jason Henke
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I'm kind of of the opinion that if they don't play boardgames young--and they only play video games--they may not play boardgames later on. If they play both, they'll play both. It's not that they will have a natural draw towards one or the other on whole, it's what they learn to expect and associate with fun I guess.

Video games also have a bit of 'stature' to them with peers.

I can only speak from my own history, and watching the children of friends grow up, but exposure and time spent with family and friends in endeavors while young often seem to carry over into adolescence and adult hood.

I grew up playing--and loving--boardgames, video games, and RPGs; I still have all those loves, but I don't RPG anymore. I'm still friends with many from my past and they also still game. In my one particular case, my argument holds true. laugh Who can say for the rest.

Of course, I'm an active corrupter of youth (and wives) into games. They--the games--aren't scary or geeky once you start the path.
 
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Todd Pytel
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OK, older gamers... when you were in high school, what proportion of your class wanted to sit down for a couple hours and play chess or Titan or Squad Leader? A pretty small fraction, I'll wager. "Serious" boardgaming of whatever flavor has always been and will always be a niche hobby. It's easy for the "old generation" (of which I would probably be considered a part) to come here - where all the other gamer geeks hang out - and bemoan the passing of a golden age. But you're really just passing judgment on the mainstream which, neither now nor previously, had the patience or dedication to learn a "serious" game. Only the perspective of the BGG community makes it seem any different.

BTW, I'm also a public school teacher in a Chicago high school (and not a particularly nice one FWIW). I would say that, on the whole, kids really aren't much different than they were when I was in school. What they're exposed to may be different - these days, the gamer geeks are more likely to get seriously into a real-time strategy game or a CCG than they are D&D or Blood Bowl (the two favorites of my middle-school and high-school game geek crowd). But that fringe is still there, and they still have the interest and ability to enjoy the same games we do. And sometimes it's not even the fringe - one of my students, whom I suspect many here would just see as a stereotypical African-American female, can spend two hours playing 9x9 Go against all comers (and usually winning) before tiring out and losing interest.

Today's kids aren't any different than we were. They just need some experience, someone to show them the ropes, like we all had when the older kid around the corner had this really cool game they needed an opponent for, sat us down, and got us started down the path...
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Ted Groth
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Todd,
Why do you think you are not a very nice teacher?

I agree that back when I was in school strategy board games were not the most common activity, which is about the same as it is now. I did like board games, but simply had no exposure to most of the strategy games that were apparently available then. Just to make it clear - I was an honors student, and helped out as a lab assistant in high school - member of the math club, etc. so I was definitely a candidate. Titan was apparently released in 1980, when I was a freshman in high school, and I never knew it even existed. I knew some people who played Star Fleet Battles when I was in college, but I stayed away from that even though it was intrigueing, because the guys that played it seemed to make it a "lifestyle" rather than just a game, and I found that there were many other more "vigorous" activities to engage in during my college years.
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Marco Fuini
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Culture and fashions do change over time, but as humans we remain the same, but it's aging itself where we do change. The fact is our brains alter as we get older, this affects our attention spans, aggression, etc. Younger gamers are generally more impulsive and attracted to action. Older people get set in their ways, more patient etc.

Change also occurs in the technology and variety. We have far more games available to us now than 30 years ago. The production quality, variety and availability has improved. With so many new releases, supported by advertising and marketing hype, its bound to have an impact on us. More choice means we dont have to always accept what is on offer, so we can find something that suits our personality and preferences. At the same time we may be lured into the next attraction, rather than perfecting or fully absorbing the what we have now.

The future of boardgaming will change - humans are always adapting, changing and developing. If what is happening in the world affects movies, politics, society, fashion, technology then these influences are bound to affect board games. Trends will come and go and come again. We will always improve on the previous version, and eventually overdue it and come back to something simpler. What it will change to..? Only time will tell.

My gaming group consists of 10, 30 and 60yrs olds - all playing the same game. The generation gap may affect our playing style, the games we play change as some new flavour of the month comes along and we all have our differenent preferences, but ultimately we are still all playing the same games together.
 
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Rob Zimmerman
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I think that boardgames will evolve to fit the demands of those who play them.

Anyone remember this same discussion coming up when Computer Wargames started coming into the mainstream of wargaming? Everyone thought it was the end of tabletop wargames, but the tabletop games evolved and now we see everything from 30 minute games to year-long epics.
 
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amanda w.
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Reading the replies to this thread has made me think maybe I should start a boardgame activity time for my students. I work with seriously disadvantaged kids- and I through the tone of my original post- I was focusing too much on what is = kids who have short attention spans, low social skills, and no exposure to any games other than of the video variety. I guess I should focus more on what could be- and I think you are right in the fact that, my students in particular, could benefit greatly from some gaming experience.
 
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