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Subject: The Greatest modern passtime - virtually gone to waste! rss

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Murray Warwick Ball
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The mind boggles.

Personally, I don't see how civilization has gone 5000+ years without a decent board game - they have only really materialized in the last couple of decades. (I'm talking about easily learned and mastered and yet still fun games that don't take hours and leave the player with a desire to play again - ie "Euro")

Question1 - Why has it taken so long to invent a decent game?

Question2 - Why does no-one know that decent games now exist?

I can't fathom why someone would prefer to watch a mediocre movie or run through a digitized corridor with a gun leading the way or go to some smelly bar and shout at each other when they could stay home (definitely one of my favorite things) and play a really cool game with friends.

And when our hobby is given a little publicity; the only examples are very average, even dull games that evoke a boring and frustrating night in that nobody really enjoys that much. (the Monopoly experience).

It almost seems like a conspiracy theory.

Go Figure.

Is anyone else bothered by this?

Murr
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Chris Ferejohn
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Hmm, I can't decide if we are being put on, but I'm fairly certain that chess, checkers, go, backgammon, mancala, bridge, poker, cribbage, and about umpteen-frillion other card and classic board games fit the bill here.

The technology to cheaply create customized cards, figures, and boards is relatively recent, so it is no suprise that things like Settlers, Power Grid, *insert favorite game here*, and heck, even Monopoly weren't developed until they were.
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Murray Warwick Ball
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You raise valid points! mass production, plastics etc.

...and I'll grant you that Cribbage is an amusing game;

but I still believe that there are gazillions of people out there that would love to have a nice game of say, Carcassonne for example - once they work out how to score farmers that is

I just think its a shame that we can't reach more people...

...if only they knew...shake
 
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Wes Nott
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KiwiGamer wrote:
I can't fathom why someone would prefer to watch a mediocre movie or run through a digitized corridor with a gun leading the way or go to some smelly bar and shout at each other when they could stay home (definitely one of my favorite things) and play a really cool game with friends.


Allow me to officially speak for the rest of the world and apologize for the fact that our ideas on what is fun don't perfectly coincide with yours.

We never knew our hobbies were unacceptable.

Board gaming is a niche hobby just like thousands of other hobbies out there. On hundreds of websites out there people are asking the exact same thing about their hobby.

Personally I liked your gross generalizations about film, video games, and bars/clubs. That was a nice touch. Snobbery and elitism, I can assure you, will not draw more people to board games.

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しんぶん赤旗
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Hi murray,
any relation to the cartoonist?

 
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Murray Warwick Ball
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No relation - but I do know him - interviewed him for a documentary a few years back. really nice guy, quite a recluse...but has some very interesting ideas on the future of the human race etc.

Happy new Year by the way
 
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Murray Warwick Ball
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Apology accepted.

But what about the aliens, who's going to speak for them?goo

Being that I am only 1 person; I shall only speak only for myself.

I enjoy most genres of film. I work in the film industry and have very eclectic tastes. I can handle mediocre films - but I prefer good ones.

My nephews like to play "corridor" style computer games and I think its quite cool for them and I don't mind hanging out with them while they're playing. I've also had a go at "Tour of Duty" - it was ok.

I also like occasionally going out with friends for a drink. Pubs, gigs, vineyards, whatever.

My point was that even though these are valid pastimes - it seems that a certain percentage of people (I believe) would enjoy an evening around a table, having a laugh, making a few decisions, experiencing some ups and downs, in front of one of many colorful interesting board games. THEY JUST DON'T KNOW THEY EXIST!!! Which is my point.

I have friends that I wouldn't even suggest try Euro games. But most have had a go - and loved it.

I (along with others here I think) am just a little frustrated that our hobby is represented by Risk and Monopoly which - two pretty dull games IMHO.

Anyway - to each their own.

Murr



 
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Murray Warwick Ball
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Personally (speaking for moi); I would prefer it wasn't "underground".

I imagine with a little marketing and or publicity - it could feasibly get "out there" and this would result in giving people another option.

And I think what many people are missing in the whole "there's millions of hobbies and everyone wonders why people don't love theirs" way of thinking. Is that we are talking about "games" - intrinsically FUN

PLUS a valid way to spend time with loved ones PLUS improve brain power PLUS a buzz of winning...

I know I'm biased but hey, playing a game - just seems like fun, surely its not just me...

Maybe someone should make a documentary - something like "Trekkies".

thoughts?






 
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    You're presuming that past generations were coming at this problem from the same perspective you are. Their life experiences were vastly different to yours. Consider sitting in you one-room house for days at a time because the weather won't break and there's not a drop of electricity or anything to use it.

    A long, methodical game may be just what you're looking for.

    I would also recommend that you bookmark this thread, as your own personal opinions may be very different after playing the aforementioned state-of-the-art euros for a few years. More than a few of us are looking for something different.

             Sag.


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Sagrilarus wrote:
I would also recommend that you bookmark this thread, as your own personal opinions may be very different after playing the aforementioned state-of-the-art euros for a few years. More than a few of us are looking for something different.




Kind of proved his point. We'll be looking to play something different in just a few years, yet civilization spent thousands of years with only a handful of games to play.

 
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KiwiGamer wrote:

My point was that even though these are valid pastimes - it seems that a certain percentage of people (I believe) would enjoy an evening around a table, having a laugh, making a few decisions, experiencing some ups and downs, in front of one of many colorful interesting board games. THEY JUST DON'T KNOW THEY EXIST!!! Which is my point.


I suspect the percentage of people who consider having to make decisions (even if just for a game) as FUN is quite small.
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Tom Hancock
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KiwiGamer wrote:
The mind boggles.
I can't fathom why someone would prefer to watch a mediocre movie or run through a digitized corridor with a gun leading the way or go to some smelly bar and shout at each other when they could stay home (definitely one of my favorite things) and play a really cool game with friends.


I don't know about you, but I try to steer clear of mediocre movies, and I like the bars that don't smell bad. Good movies and fun bars can be better than a good board game depending on the crowd of friends, and thats coming from a board game geek. One of the reasons our hobby doesn't catch on more is elitism and snobbery from people that look down their nose at video gamers and others. Video gamers have a lot of board gamer tendencies, but if board gamers treat them like the lower class, how will we ever get them playing? You complain about people not knowing board games exist, but if the current board gamers make fun of their hobbies (bars, movies, etc.) they probably never will.


Back on topic, I think you are totally ignoring the history of gaming in your original post where you insinuate that board gaming was invented in recent history. Claudius played an ancestor of backgammon in ancient rome, called maybe Senet? The rules of checkers have not changed since about 1400 BC, when the ancient egyptians called it Alquerque. Chess is even older, 4000 BC or so, but the rules have changed more. I am sure some people with greater knowledge than me can go on and on here about Go, Shogi, Mancala, even Parcheesi and Snakes & Ladders are a lot older than you think.

Modern technology has allowed us to mass produce games that are short, have odd pieces, and own a whole bunch of them. This contrasts 1000 years ago when only the rich owned a chess set and chess was probably all they played. I don't think its really a preference thing or that we've discovered anything new, just technology. People used to listen to stories on the radio, now they watch movies. Same difference.
 
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sirkerry wrote:

I suspect the percentage of people who consider having to make decisions (even if just for a game) as FUN is quite small.


Bet you're right. Yet many people do seem to consider games of chance fun; hence the popularity of casinos. The way most people play such games, the decision making is trivial, yet there's at least a slim potential for a big payoff. Something for nothing. That's often a successful lure.

In contrast, real thinking (decision making) is regarded (by many) as work. And if you're working, can you possibly be having fun? Only if the payoff (in money, joy, or whatever you're aiming for) seems bigger than the work you have to put into getting it.

So, if we want to understand why board games haven't become more popular, we need to consider the work vs the reward. The smaller the work aspect seems to the average person, and the bigger the potential reward seems, the more popular the activity is likely to become.

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For my two pennorth, I have found that there are plenty more potental boardgamers out there, they just don't know it yet.

I have introduced and opened up gaming not only within my family (Carcassonne etc at christmas past and present) but also at work (Roborally, Settlers, Formula De, Zombies) and at other leisure hobbies. As the stage manager for an amateur theatre, the quiet times are filled with Carcassonne and other light games.

Once the people have bitten, there is a desire to own a few of the games. I keep an e-mail ready with web addresses for my trusted on line suppliers, which I forward when asked. The problem, as one of my work colleagues identified, is that these games are not easily found. Look in any major toy and game store, and you will find only the MB / Parker style games. Suppliers of the more interesting games tend to be on back streets or the net. Having said that, some stores are championing a few of the more popular games - Waterstones in the UK supplies Carcassonne along with Risk and Boggle.

You just have to stick your neck out and be ready for a little ridicule - I have had a few snide remarks in the past - and ignore them. Gamers will appear if a little oportunity is presented to them.

Cheers

Simon Q
 
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

In contrast, real thinking (decision making) is regarded (by many) as work. And if you're working, can you possibly be having fun? Only if the payoff (in money, joy, or whatever you're aiming for) seems bigger than the work you have to put into getting it.


    I think you need to consider intimidation and the fear of looking stupid. Also, some parts of the culture see games as someone else's pastime and avoid it for personal reasons.

    Hancock has a point -- the most vocal elite members in any hobby generally deal it the worst damage. You'd likely do best to bring a new game into that smelly bar and sit down to learn it with a bunch of other folks so that you could share the experience with them instead of gracing them with your knowledge.

             Sag.


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cferejohn wrote:
chess, checkers, go, backgammon, mancala, bridge, poker, cribbage


Really, they are only intellectually interesting. They are themeless.

The real innovation in the last 100 years has been the advent of games with theme. Games ABOUT something, not just a clever set of rules constructed around some abstract premise.

This is an easy thing to explain; education and literacy and reading are now widespread. It was not all the long ago that the vast majority of humanity did not have the ability to appreciate information with complexity - just stories and instructions that were passed on orally...

Like, say, the simple rules of a game?

With greater learning comes greater ability to transmit complex ideas. And Advanced Squad Leader becomes possible.


EDIT: Changed because of the EPIC FAIL at getting the point.
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KiwiGamer wrote:
I imagine with a little marketing and or publicity - it could feasibly get "out there" and this would result in giving people another option.


We're just on the cusp of this, but it is coming in a way that few people expected or recognize.

Video games are surpassing other means of entertainment - they already make more money per year than Hollywood and they seem similarly "recession proof". The problem with video games is that innovation has greatly stagnated. The medium has obsessed the developers. That is, graphics. For too long a time the video game industry has done little to make better games and instead just made prettier ones. Deeper, richer, more complex games with interesting rules and interactions exist, but they are generally the exception - the latest 3d shooter has no more game to it than Pac-Man did.

Yet, we are seeing pressure in this business to grow into other markets. We see dramatic increases in the number and diversity of games and a growing interest in cross-pollination with other, older game types if only as a means to come up with innovative products.

And board games and role playing games have been heavy innovators over the past 30 years. So, we are seeing cross pollination of these gaming areas - board games are picked up for the XBox. World of Warcraft is used as material for a board game.

This will raise the exposure of board games, encouraging people to give them more and more attention... but I think we will also see a strong movement away from tabletops and towards computer moderated games, meaning change that some board gamers won't like is on the horizon too.
 
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Lagduf wrote:
Board gaming is a niche hobby just like thousands of other hobbies out there.


Ah, but gaming is not a niche hobby. Its a growing hobby, growing by leaps and bounds, even threatening well established industries like film and television.

Games are active. Stories are passive. People like active engagement at least as much as they like passive. Games have a very bright future, far more than gardening, knitting, stamp collecting, or a dozen other niche hobbies.

Games are dynamic and growing and adaptive. The future is games. And board games are just one type of game... their future grows too, even if it may come with changes as well.
 
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
In contrast, real thinking (decision making) is regarded (by many) as work.


Human beings like thinking. They like being engaged. It is a part of our essential nature.

We do have moods; at times we prefer a passive engagement like a television program while at others we like active engagement like the satisfaction of work or a sport... or a game. And each person's moods vary with their energy level, attention, and other factors.

The number of people who like games is not really limited by some aversion to thinking. Instead, the realities of life use up many people's capacity for active engagement - cooking, cleaning, working, worrying. This is why TV has been so popular; passive engagement to enjoy when the desire for active engagement declines.

And yet, as wealth builds, the necessity of work decreases. And free time increases. Over time, we'll see more and more people showing an interest in games.
 
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KiwiGamer wrote:
I don't see how civilization has gone 5000+ years without a decent board game - they have only really materialized in the last couple of decades. Question1 - Why has it taken so long to invent a decent game?



Well, large parts of those 5000 years were taken up by:

Running after things to eat
Running away from things trying to eat you
Hitting someone with a rock that was trying to take what you are eating
Deciding the best number of sides on a die
Hitting someone with a rock who thinks a different number of sides would be better
Keeping Elvis from showing his hips on TV


Since we got all those things sorted out in the 70's, board games have had the proper enviroment to thrive.
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Lance Hampton
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One major reason is there hasn't historically been a huge market for creating games, only for selling the actual sets.

Also, have you ever looked at the amount of stuff your grandparents had compared to you? I imagine you are accumulating stuff at a far higher rate than they did. There was no mass produced Chinese niche good until post WW2, at least nothing comparable to today.

There are a zillion factors why these things couldn't be explored until recently:
market size - there are more people now
cheap printing
plastics
computer/automated manufacturing
efficient shipping - both global and domestic
abundance of leisure time
an educated populace (more or less) from top to bottom makes the market much larger

You're underestimating the quality of past games too:

1. Poker - it's hard to imagine a better bluffing game than this class of games. A different variant for all manner of tastes is available.
2. Chess/Go - Both these games fell roughly into skilled or unskilled players for *centuries*. It wasn't until large populations studied the games closely that they became worse for the casual player.
3. Card games - tons of card games that are still being played
4. Any number of dexterity games - horshoes, washers, marbles, darts. Though these were often played outside..you know, outside that tiny little house that cost more to them than your giant house of today costs you.


Lastly, I'll say the art of letter writing - which is now dead - surely competed for some of everyone's brain time.
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Donald wrote:

Well, large parts of those 5000 years were taken up by:

Running after things to eat
Running away from things trying to eat you
Hitting someone with a rock that was trying to take what you are eating


I regret that I do not have the GeekGold that this deserves.
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I think it should be mentioned that until the modern era most people were illiterate, spending almost all their time laboring just to scrape together a living. You woke up, spent your day farming or hunting or whatever, and you went to bed when it got dark, because there was no electricity. Maybe you would sit around the fire and listen to stories or make shadow puppets. Until modern times, only the wealthy had leisure time.

And I'll echo the point that chess, checkers, go, many card games, etc. have been around for centuries, and are as good as anything we have today.
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Noahboa wrote:
I think it should be mentioned that until the modern era most people were illiterate, spending almost all their time laboring just to scrape together a living.


I am glad to see such wise and sagacious men as Noah, Lance, and Donald providing weight to my humble assertions.
 
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sirkerry wrote:
I suspect the percentage of people who consider having to make decisions (even if just for a game) as FUN is quite small.

This is it. A large majority of people that I know have the attitude that they have to think for work. so they want their entertainment to involve as little thinking as possible. Thus, they tend to spend their free time watching TV, watching movies, watching sports, and procreating, none of which involves the kind of strenous mental activity involved in trying to decide if you should use your Ops Points on the western front, or the russian front, before your opponent slaps you all over the Rhine.

I don't hold it against them, we're just different.
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