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Subject: The Economist on modern board games (BGG mention) rss

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Walt
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BoardGameGeek is mentioned, and the ratings taken way too seriously. The article discusses modern wargames (which it seems to me are usually ignored), but it's not as wargamey as the title of the article suggests. An excerpt:

One consequence of the board-gaming boom has been to help designers come up with a set of principles and rules-of-thumb that add up, more or less, to a theory of fun. One way to get a sense of it is to look at a well-known game that violates many of this theory’s tenets. Monopoly is, by most calculations, the bestselling board game of all time. Yet it languishes near the bottom of a list of games as reviewed by the users of BoardGameGeek, a popular website. In the eyes of a modern game designer, it does almost everything wrong.

Note: 1843magazine.com is the website of 1843, the culture, lifestyle and ideas magazine from The Economist.

https://www.1843magazine.com/features/tabletop-generals
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Cadae
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“A board game cafe sounds like the type of niche business that appeals only to hip millenials with a fondness for ironic nostalgia”

Yeah, I stopped reading there
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Walt
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Cadae wrote:
“A board game cafe sounds like the type of niche business that appeals only to hip millenials with a fondness for ironic nostalgia”

Yeah, I stopped reading there

Too bad. The next word is "But...."

[T]he main draw for the patrons is a new generation of deeper, more involving – simply better – games that have been devised over the past couple of decades.
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John McD
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Cadae wrote:
“A board game cafe sounds like the type of niche business that appeals only to hip millenials with a fondness for ironic nostalgia”

Yeah, I stopped reading there


That's 100% what it sounds like.
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Cadae
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Tall_Walt wrote:

Too bad. The next word is "But...."


Not trying to be rude and the rest of the article is really quite good. Starting with buzzfeed quality language is an instant turn off though
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Walt
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Cadae wrote:
Not trying to be rude and the rest of the article is really quite good. Starting with buzzfeed quality language is an instant turn off though

Well, I'm happy you read the rest of the article.

That sentence is a rhetorical device to hook the people who have that reaction. The author clearly doesn't take that position. So, maybe a few more people who dismiss games give them a try.
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Thomas M
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I like that the article acknowledge that many of the 80's kids that grew up with various digital games are now staring into a screen all day in a full-time job. This same group also get turned off by most of the visually focused, micro-transaction-infested, social linked, grindfests that they turned modern digital gaming into. They want challenge, depth, and no trophy-grinding or skins.

To balance off the digital job, people want analog quality time with friends.

What I do not like is that they seem to indicate that the movement is caused by the modern board games. Apart from the board game cafe concept, no major innovations has happened in the past 20 years. Sure, the games got more diverse and one could look at legacy as innovative, but it is hardly any different from D&D campaigns from the 80's (except for the obvious DM part). I believe what has caused the rise in popularity to be more linked to the roots of organic food, local produce restaurants, and theatre winning over cinema. People want more authenticity and a framework for unique experiences, rather than purchasing mass produced repeatable experiences.
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Wim van Gruisen
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TBH, I haven't read much that hasn't been discussed in other articles over the years, that marvelled at the increased popularity of board gaming. And what was new, was extremely simplified or wrong.
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Mark Watson
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aziras wrote:

Apart from the board game cafe concept, no major innovations has happened in the past 20 years.

I'm not sure that holds true. We certainly didn't have companion apps 20 years ago
Quote:

I believe what has caused the rise in popularity to be more linked to the roots of organic food, local produce restaurants, and theatre winning over cinema. People want more authenticity and a framework for unique experiences, rather than purchasing mass produced repeatable experiences.

I suspect innovation plays a large part of it. It occurs to me you could draw parallels between the videogame industry in the 90s and the movie industry in the 80s - both were times of considerable innovation within their respective genres, and both industries grew massively as a result. Unfortunately that growth tended to stifle innovation - one of the reason the movie industry is struggling these days (and the videogame industry appears to be taking the same route) is that the output has become too formulaic.
 
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I can't help but think that leading off with

Quote:
Draughts is a funky little café tucked into a railway arch in Islington

is a signal since Draughts is actually located in neighboring Shoreditch but, to an Economist reader, "Islington" means "lol Jeremy Corbyn."

Also:

Quote:
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s founder and a board-game aficionado, says that Settlers of Catan is “the board game of entrepreneurship”.

Great, now I have to actively hate Catan.
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jumbit
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Quote:
The slow triumph of what used to be called “nerd culture” – think smartphone gaming and “Game of Thrones” on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile.


WTF Economist? "Nerd culture" was exposed as misogynist and sexist during #GamerGate in 2014. Why the praise? The article even mentions Wil Wheaton, male feminist, who is one of the voices who helped expose the misogyny for the world to see.

Quote:
Despite its new-found popularity, board-gaming remains a slightly nerdy pastime (there are a number of fans among Economist journalists).


Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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jumbit wrote:
Quote:
The slow triumph of what used to be called “nerd culture” – think smartphone gaming and “Game of Thrones” on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile.


WTF Economist? "Nerd culture" was exposed as misogynist and sexist during #GamerGate in 2014. Why the praise? The article even mentions Wil Wheaton, male feminist, who is one of the voices who helped expose the misogyny for the world to see.

Quote:
Despite its new-found popularity, board-gaming remains a slightly nerdy pastime (there are a number of fans among Economist journalists).


Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.

I don't see Nerd culture as either misogynistic or sexist. Does it contain those elements? Of course. Was GamerGate an ugly example of this? Yep. But this is not the rule for nerds. The nerds I know, for example, are inclusive. They want more nerds of every gender, race, and orientation. More nerds, more people to game with.
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Wim van Gruisen
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jumbit wrote:
Quote:
The slow triumph of what used to be called “nerd culture” – think smartphone gaming and “Game of Thrones” on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile.


WTF Economist? "Nerd culture" was exposed as misogynist and sexist during #GamerGate in 2014. Why the praise? The article even mentions Wil Wheaton, male feminist, who is one of the voices who helped expose the misogyny for the world to see.

Quote:
Despite its new-found popularity, board-gaming remains a slightly nerdy pastime (there are a number of fans among Economist journalists).


Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.

Time to write an angry letter to the editor and cancel your subscription, I guess.
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Archonsod wrote:
aziras wrote:

Apart from the board game cafe concept, no major innovations has happened in the past 20 years.

I'm not sure that holds true. We certainly didn't have companion apps 20 years ago
Quote:

I believe what has caused the rise in popularity to be more linked to the roots of organic food, local produce restaurants, and theatre winning over cinema. People want more authenticity and a framework for unique experiences, rather than purchasing mass produced repeatable experiences.

I suspect innovation plays a large part of it. It occurs to me you could draw parallels between the videogame industry in the 90s and the movie industry in the 80s - both were times of considerable innovation within their respective genres, and both industries grew massively as a result. Unfortunately that growth tended to stifle innovation - one of the reason the movie industry is struggling these days (and the videogame industry appears to be taking the same route) is that the output has become too formulaic.


Of course it depends on how to define "innovation". To me something like companion apps and the various hybrid mechanics are just spin-offs of the same concepts in slightly different packaging. Small innovations, yes, but not something that can disrupt a market on their own. They are rather products of an increasing competitive landscape and a constant search for bringing a "new" game to the market with sufficient differentiation that people are not classifying it as a re-skin.

The only thing that gets close to a real innovation is "legacy" games. Consumable board games are new. It will be interesting to see if they shape the market or if they satisfy an itch in a small indifferent niche.

The innovations in the video game industry in the 90's were actually pretty limited. Each "new" game brought better graphics, but except for multiplayer games, none of it really changed it up big time. The market fuelled itself and the iterations forced themselves because all the game studios that wanted in on the action had to bring something new to sell their game. The real innovation in video gaming happened in the late 90's and early 00's, with the advent of MMOs. Subscription gaming was a real innovation.

I believe the very thing that is appealing with board games (the physical and social aspects) prevents business scaling to the point where it cannot hockey stick like the video game industry did. Console and PC gaming were still a relative small market before the social elements got merged in. Board gaming already have the social element, so it is hard to see how they can jump.
But again, as with all true innovations, the essence is that they were hard to predict
Who knows, someone might already be brewing on the game-changer somewhere out there.
 
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jumbit wrote:

Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.


The game doesn't have a "slavery problem;" nor does Five Tribes.
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Joe Leuzinger

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Just seems like an article written 3-5 years too late. Explaining rising mainstream "nerd culture" now seems a tad passe. Coming out years after the Time article over NFL players playing Catan on road trips, or Hollywood going all-in on Marvel and DC movies, The Walking Dead rising to the biggest show on TV and receding.

The tone just seems off to me. Who really still needs to be convinced that "nerdy" activities have gone main stream?
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skutsch wrote:
jumbit wrote:
Quote:
The slow triumph of what used to be called “nerd culture” – think smartphone gaming and “Game of Thrones” on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile.


WTF Economist? "Nerd culture" was exposed as misogynist and sexist during #GamerGate in 2014. Why the praise? The article even mentions Wil Wheaton, male feminist, who is one of the voices who helped expose the misogyny for the world to see.

Quote:
Despite its new-found popularity, board-gaming remains a slightly nerdy pastime (there are a number of fans among Economist journalists).


Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.

I don't see Nerd culture as either misogynistic or sexist. Does it contain those elements? Of course. Was GamerGate an ugly example of this? Yep. But this is not the rule for nerds. The nerds I know, for example, are inclusive. They want more nerds of every gender, race, and orientation. More nerds, more people to game with.
An awful lot of people gave me an awful lot of grief for saying exactly this not too long ago.

Pete (shrugs)
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Walt
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I agree that the article doesn't say anything that hasn't been said before, especially by articles on board gaming sites. However, it's nice to see a positive article with BGG mentions on such a major site as The Economist. The article could have been a factor in pushing BGG over 5,000,000 unique users.
 
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jumbit wrote:
Quote:
The slow triumph of what used to be called “nerd culture” – think smartphone gaming and “Game of Thrones” on television – has given adults permission to engage openly in pastimes that were previously looked down on as juvenile.


WTF Economist? "Nerd culture" was exposed as misogynist and sexist during #GamerGate in 2014. Why the praise? The article even mentions Wil Wheaton, male feminist, who is one of the voices who helped expose the misogyny for the world to see.

Quote:
Despite its new-found popularity, board-gaming remains a slightly nerdy pastime (there are a number of fans among Economist journalists).


Ah. Question answered. There are sympathizers inside the Economist, which is just shocking. Typically this well-respected magazine is on the progressive side of any argument. It even recommends Puerto Rico as a "Deep Strategy" game without ever mentioning the game's slavery problem.


To both of your comments: settle down mate!
"Nerd culture" has nothing to do with Gamergate. That would imply that users of BGG are misogynist and sexist? Zero explanation, zero logic.

Puerto Rico has a slavery problem? I think you are confusing those abstract wooden pieces with something else.
I wonder how many games you would consider playable if you so easily give up on rational thought because of a theme that possibly offends...
 
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Rob Doupe
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Caffeine Buz wrote:

The tone just seems off to me. Who really still needs to be convinced that "nerdy" activities have gone main stream?


Economist readers, who I'd guess have a median age north of 45.
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