Corey Butler
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So there is a pretty good consensus on what we are talking about when we use the terms eurogame, wargame, abstract, etc. But what about games that are high on conflict, high on theme, probably involve some luck, and tend to have maps with lots plastic pieces?

Is "Ameritrash" appropriate? "Thematic"? Something else?

I'm currently designing a survey of boardgame preferences, and I would appreciate people's input on which (preferably concise) term I should use.

Thanks
Corey
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Bryan Thunkd
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Ameritrash. It's an established term that's been in use for a while.

BGG attempts to use strategy and thematic in lieu of Eurogame and Ameritrash, which is downright silly as there are thematic Eurogames and strategic Ameritrash games. These euphemisms already have meanings that can contradict how they're being used.

P.S. Welcome to BGG! (You can't have been here 13 years and not seen a jillion threads about this already!)
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Corey Butler
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Thunkd wrote:

P.S. Welcome to BGG! (You can't have been here 13 years and not seen a jillion threads about this already!)


Well, "welcome back" anyway... I've been dormant for a while and I thought Ameritrash was the term, but wanted to check and make sure it was still in vogue!
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maf man
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Amerithrash is the term I use for what your talking about. Thrash I feel is much more descriptive of a high conflict etc game.

edit add: I haven't accepted ameritrash in general bgg terminology because I still have dosens of gamers I know who are not a part of bgg and to them they easily assume trash means trash.
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Anders Pedersen
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Not fond of the A-word at all.
I call them Thematic games just as they are listed here on BGG.
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Russ Williams
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shotokanguy wrote:
So there is a pretty good consensus on what we are talking about when we use the terms eurogame, wargame, abstract, etc.

Ha ha ha! That's a funny one!
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mafman6 wrote:
Amerithrash is the term I use for what your talking about. Thrash I feel is much more descriptive of a high conflict etc game.

edit add: I haven't accepted ameritrash in general bgg terminology because I still have dosens of gamers I know who are not a part of bgg and to them they easily assume trash means trash.


Do. Not. Be. That. Guy.
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scifiantihero wrote:
Do. Not. Be. That. Guy.

what? I say it around people who dont know any terms or they just assume I have a slur.
or was my comment too "uhm actually"?
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When I teach my board game design class, I classify it as "thematic" - mainly because some of the earliest and most "Ameritrashy" games are from the UK.

However, I always self-identify as a "Ameritrash gamer" - I find the punny title too amusing to not use.
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Joakim Schön
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If I talk with a gamer I say Ameritrash. If I talk with a muggler I say Thematic.

I think Thematic is a good term to use on BGG.
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I don't use Ameritrash at all because it was created to effectively mean not "Euro." everything you described in your description can apply to a euro game as well and in fact does.

If you ask 10 people for a definition of ameritrash, you will get 10 different answers so it's a pretty sad descriptor. In fact replace ameritrash with "not-Euro" anywhere you see it on BGG and you will see what I mean. It's just a protest term. it's over-inclusive in its opposition.

Additionally there has been so much cross pollination in the gaming world that most games can't be put in simple categories anymore.

Thematic is best. Why use a term your gaming audience won't get when you can use one they understand.
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Smilinbrax wrote:
I don't use Ameritrash at all because it was created to effectively mean not "Euro."
Um... no it wasn't.

Smilinbrax wrote:
If you ask 10 people for a definition of ameritrash, you will get 10 different answers
If I ask those same 10 people for a definition of any word, I'll get 10 answers that will be at least slightly different (and none of our definitions will match the dictionary exactly). As long as the definitions are relatively close, we have a general agreement about what the term means.

BGG Glossary wrote:
n. A catchphrase for "American style boardgames". In general, this means games that emphasize a highly developed theme, player to player conflict, and usually feature a moderate to high level of luck.
This is a pretty good standard definition. I'd personally also add that Ameritrash games tend towards bling (lots of fancy miniatures, etc.), exciting themes (dragonslaying or space battles instead of farming for example), and focus on creating an epic experience instead of focusing on innovative game mechanisms.

Even if someone doesn't match my exact defintion, I have a pretty good idea what they mean when they use the term. And most people will have a pretty good understanding of what I mean when I call a game Ameritrash... and it won't simply be "non-Euro".

Smilinbrax wrote:
Thematic is best. Why use a term your gaming audience won't get when you can use one they understand.
Except thematic doesn't actually convey most of what the OP said. Thematic doesn't suggest "high on conflict" and "probably involve some luck" or "tend to have maps with lots plastic pieces". Why use a term that will confuse your gaming audience? Thematic already has a meaning which is going to make players think the important characteristic is theme... and while Ameritrash games tend to have a lot of theme, it's not the only characteristic that's important to the definition. And there are lots of games which aren't considered Ameritrash which have lots of theme.

Thematic isn't a good substitute for Ameritrash.
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Corey Butler
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Clearly, all game categories are problematic and all definitions can be argued. After reading people's responses, I do think "Ameritrash" is as close as I will be able to get to a consensus for most hobby gamers, so I will probably use that.

That said, I don't really care for the term "Ameritrash." But I don't like "thematic" either because lots of games I would not consider Ameritrash have very good themes. And don't get me started on "strategy" as a category.

I'm going to have a separate question about preference for direct conflict, because that really seems to be the core difference between Euros and more American style games.

Smilinbrax wrote:

Additionally there has been so much cross pollination in the gaming world that most games can't be put in simple categories anymore.


True enough. I wrote a GeekList on this idea once upon a time!

Thanks again for everyone who offered their advice, and stay tuned for more information as I get the survey online.
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shotokanguy wrote:
I'm going to have a separate question about preference for direct conflict, because that really seems to be the core difference between Euros and more American style games.
Actually I think what the game is trying to achieve is really the key difference. Take a look at this blog which I think is the definitive piece on the matter.

https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/27367/schools-design-and-...
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Interesting discussion. It made me start to think about what various gaming terms mean to me, and how they relate to each other. Then, because I'm weird, I decided I wanted to use diagrams to visualize it. So, here's a stab at some board gaming terms and how they relate:

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Lacey Jean wrote:




I love this! I am particularly interested in what might constitute a photosynthesis game.
 
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Yes, that's the peculiar thing about this graph. It implies that Photosynthesis is the only thematic abstract out there.

Abstract: Go
Eurogame: Puerto Rico
Thematic: Tales of the Arabian Nights
Abstract Eurogame: Caylus
Thematic Eurogame: Agricola
Thematic Abstract: Photosynthesis
Ameritrash: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie
Eurogame-Ameritrash: Cyclades
 
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I think they mean specifically the new game entitled Photosynthesis, which is literally a game about growing a forest. Very pretty game, pretty interesting play I thinkg. Check it out!
shotokanguy wrote:
Lacey Jean wrote:




I love this! I am particularly interested in what might constitute a photosynthesis game.
 
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Corey Butler
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RhiaHawk wrote:
I think they mean specifically the new game entitled Photosynthesis, which is literally a game about growing a forest. Very pretty game, pretty interesting play I thinkg. Check it out!
shotokanguy wrote:
Lacey Jean wrote:




I love this! I am particularly interested in what might constitute a photosynthesis game.


Ha, I realize that now and will have to check it out. Though I am dubious of the idea of a thematic abstract. Sounds a bit like a dry watery object...
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shotokanguy wrote:
Ha, I realize that now and will have to check it out. Though I am dubious of the idea of a thematic abstract. Sounds a bit like a dry watery object...

FWIW in the "abstract" community, "abstract games" are not about theme or lack of theme, but rather about lack of randomness and hidden info during play. (I.e. combinatorial games.)

(Which nicely illustrates that "ameritrash" is certainly not the only disputed label. Likewise there are strongly held differing opinions about what a "euro" is and what a "wargame" is...)
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Corey Butler
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russ wrote:
shotokanguy wrote:
Ha, I realize that now and will have to check it out. Though I am dubious of the idea of a thematic abstract. Sounds a bit like a dry watery object...

FWIW in the "abstract" community, "abstract games" are not about theme or lack of theme, but rather about lack of randomness and hidden info during play.


Gotta argue that one. The Duke is considered an abstract, yet it has two bags full of random, hidden information. I am willing to concede the point if you suggest that The Duke is not a very good abstract.

And I think there are Euros with little or no randomness. Caylus comes to mind.

Really, the defining quality of abstract is "without theme."
 
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shotokanguy wrote:
russ wrote:
shotokanguy wrote:
Ha, I realize that now and will have to check it out. Though I am dubious of the idea of a thematic abstract. Sounds a bit like a dry watery object...

FWIW in the "abstract" community, "abstract games" are not about theme or lack of theme, but rather about lack of randomness and hidden info during play.


Gotta argue that one. The Duke is considered an abstract, yet it has two bags full of random, hidden information.

This is why I said "in the abstract community". E.g. people who hang out in BGG's Abstract Games forum. The Duke is not considered an abstract game in that context. (Nor are e.g. Backgammon or Ingenious.) The term "abstract game" has a historical tradition in that community.

Quote:
Really, the defining quality of abstract is "without theme."

Really, different people use the term different ways.

Just like, e.g. for a wargamer a "wargame" has some simulationist intent of modeling conflict in some realistic plausible way, while for many non-wargamers, a "wargame" is merely any game which has a war theme, no matter how nonsensical.
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Corey Butler
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I’m imagining the “abstract community” as a bunch of celestial types without physical bodies, sitting around playing GIPF all day. I wonder what they think of Fischer chess if they don’t accept any kind of randomization?

You brought up Wargames. Definitely controversial here, going all the way back, but I would say that a game is a Wargame if it simulates a military conflict. This includes Paths of Glory and Squad Leader, excludes Risk and Stratego (oops, is that an abstract? It has hidden info) and leaves games like Axis and Allies and Memoir ‘44 in a kind of intermediate position. I’d call them light Wargames, but I know people would argue with that. The trouble is, what level of detail constitutes a simulation?
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shotokanguy wrote:
I’m imagining the “abstract community” as a bunch of celestial types without physical bodies, sitting around playing GIPF all day. I wonder what they think of Fischer chess if they don’t accept any kind of randomization?

That's why I said randomization "during play". (Setup randomization before play, before players make any decisions in the game, e.g. Fischer's Chess variant, is different and does not disqualify a game. E.g. if we randomly generate the size of the Go board we will play on, we're still playing Go, a game with no randomness.)
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I normally call it Ameritrash, or Ameritrash followed by profanity if someone just tried to insert that ridiculous extra "h" in there, but if I'm feeling silly, I call them Plastic Games. Euros are Wood Games, and wargames are Paper Games.
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