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Subject: Are boardgames obsolete? rss

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Chris Tannhauser
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"I looked at my hands, I understood that one fine day, one fine evening to be precise, they would no longer be hands but some other awful thing." —Jack Kerouac
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My friend Derrick in Iraq reports that he is having trouble getting people interested in boardgames. Mind you, these are folks who get shot at and blown up when they go outside, and have practically nothing to do but wrestle boredom when inside. Where the games are. And they won't touch them. Derrick says they MUCH prefer videogames.

Evil days, indeed.

Don't get me wrong--I was raised on videogames; from Hunt the Wumpus to Adventure to Pong and the arcade craze, through Nintendo and into modern console and PC gaming, I've done and loved it all. But for me, boardgames are something special, with face to face, unhurried, unplugged, purely human noise and motion. Faces, emotions: the things that touch us deeply and seem to elude videogames.

This anti-boardgame bias begs the question: Are boardgames obsolete? Is our beloved hobby on the cusp of a miraculous expansion or merely an enthusiast-only past-time (like reading books and bookstores will be within our lifetime)? Does anyone have any ideas for a real and sustained Boardgame Evangelism?

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Andrew Brannan
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Sadly, I fear boardgames will never be mainstream again. For twenty+ years people have been lokced into the mentality that there are two type of boardgames: Kid's games, and Party games. They understand Monopoly and Candyland are for kids, and they understand Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Cranium are party games. They just don't understand that there are boardgames for 2-4 adults that are fun and not kid oriented. Video games and comic books are just now starting to shake off that kid-association. It'll take another generation (If we raise our kids with modern boardgames) before boardgames have a chance with the adult population.
 
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The Real and Only
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Boardgames will be obsolete someday. It will not even be that far away.

Once video games can be played face to face cheaply with multiple players, you can kiss boardgames goodbye.

Right now people have to have "network" parties. This is where everyone brings their own computer monitor and cpu and they network together to play games. It is too tedious. One day it will be easier, and when that day comes, I think boardgames will be antiquated.
 
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Mark Taraba
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I've dealt with this too. I've had people say that with computers we've gone beyond boardgames. They tell me they want strategy. I tell them that these boardgames have strategy, but they still don't want to try them.
 
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Hans Persson
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I don't think reading books will disappear in my lifetime and not really bookstores either, although they will probably get somewhat fewer. To a larger extent, small local bookstores will disappear. Instead we get big book markets that can stock enough stuff to be interesting enough to browse and buy random stuff instead of ordering online (I find it much easier to randomly browse in a store than online).

Another thing that is possible now, with the internet, are speciality stores. In Sweden, we have SF-Bokhandeln ( http://www.sfbok.se/ ) which is a store for sf/fantasy books which also stocks some films, some comics, a few games (RPGs and miniatures, mostly) and some merchandise. They have a rather big store in central Stockholm, but they also sell lots over the internet (and they sold lots of stuff through mail order before the internet age as well). A store like that can get business since they know their special field and I can count on them to know things about what they sell, and they also stock anything published in Sweden and quite a bit of that published in English. I don't need to shop around in lots of places.

I don't think board games will go away either. Sometimes people want to play a computer game, sometimes something calmer. When you get older and lost those lightning-fast reflexes, FPS games don't seem as appealing and board are a more natural choice. I'm not quite here for that reason (yet...), but I think it is a valid reason.
 
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Tim K.
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I think if I was a soldier I might prefer videogames too. You can tune out much better than with a boardgame, and I think those guys really want to tune out!

It is not the end.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Let's see... December, yeah, it's been about 45 days since someone asked if boardgames are obsolete. The cycle has been that way since about 1984.

Is root beer obsolete, or is it just more people drink coke nowadays?
 
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David Boeren
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Sterotypes
I can't speak for other countries, but in the United States almost anything having to do with fun is sterotyped as being for kids.

Boardgames are for kids (even though there are obviously many boardgames which are interesting and complex for adults).

Videogames are for kids (even though many videogames have mature themes, well-written storylines, and stimulating puzzles).

Cartoons are for kids (even though there is sophisticated animation from Japan, as well as all the stuff in Warner Brothers that kids won't "get").

Participating in sports is for kids (watching sports is OK).

I have trouble thinking of exactly what constitutes an acceptable activity for a group of adults here. Mainly watching movies, going out to eat, watching sports, and alcohol. None of these things is particularly stimulating to the mind, which is how most people like it.

For most people, the use of their brain is "work" and not something they want to do for entertainment. It's a hard habit to get them out of.

For now, do what you can. Introduce people to games, give them as gifts, show people there is a larger world. It's not going to change overnight.
 
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Jerry McVicker
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I don't buy that. Boardgaming is more than just playing a game. It's a social activity as well. You can have all the highspeed cheap networks in the world but there's no substitute for face-to-face play. Too many closet gamers in the world and on this site.
 
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Goo
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It really looks like a trend toward boardgames, not away from them. As videogame technology has expanded, innovation has fallen. Everything can get a better wow-factor with new graphics and effects, so they don't spend much time on innovation and all new games are "me too" games riding on the coat tails of past success (of course Carcassonne: The Hamptons and Settlers of Compton are proof that boardgames are not immune to this).

Because of this, it looks like the older guys in the "videogame generation" (30-40) are starting to jump ship. I haven't seen any videogames as fun as games I played years ago, so I'm just bored with the whole scene.

This is what brought me to boardgames. It's something I can do with my wife and friends (couples and singles), unlike videogames. Here I am finding fresh ideas and exciting "gaming" experiences.

Aldie posted the number of new memberships per month over the last few months and the numbers are phenomenal. Just reading the posts and Geeklists, it looks like many of the new recruits are in the 30-40 age bracket, so maybe with similar situations to mine. Many of my friends (to whom I have introduced games) are more excited about boardgaming than video gaming.

Videogames are:
more and more boring and derivative
relatively expensive
mostly unsocial
long
Boardgames are:
family friendly
innovative and compelling
interactive and inclusive
relatively unexpensive
 
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Mark Taraba
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Once video games can be played face to face cheaply with multiple players, you can kiss boardgames goodbye

I disagree. There's something with knowing the rules and how each rule interacts that you can build a strategy with. In videogames there's a black box that does some calculations and you have to take guesses at. Through enough trial and error you can map out most the rules the computer is using but you've put in the time to get there.

Some games are better as a computer game and some are better as boardgames. Any boardgames with a table that you lookup values from is a good candidate for a computer game. Computer games with random events such as cards or dice cause people to assume the computer's cheating when they get a bad roll. If they do it in real life they might blame the dice but not accuse other players or the game of cheating.
 
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Chris Tannhauser
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reframing the question
Okay, I admit it--I chose the word 'obsolete' to be hyperbolic and suck in some responses. Bad on my part. Also, I'm really not concerned with how videogames and boardgames stack up against each other.

The REAL question is this:

Is boardgaming condemned to be an enthusiast-only past-time, like model trains, or can it be grown into a standard, socially acceptable entertainment choice?
 
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Jur dj
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pros and cons
In respects the strengths of boardgames are also their weaknesses:

boardgames are social, but not all people are social, and it was estimated in another recent Journal that the rate of anti-social types in games was 1 in 4. That means that most games necessitate the participation of at least one 'pain in the ass'.

It is not easy to get people together for a game as everybody has family, friends, kids and work competing for time. They have to drive home, get important phone calls etc.

Computer games give you a game whenever you want, for as long as you want. They don't whine, don't argue. They let you cheat. You can save your last move and replay if you lose the crucial battle. And like ASL in boardgames, you can really master a game, once you get to know the special button combinations, figure out the AI or get to know the best places to put units. You can stop in mid-game and pick up when you want.

Many of the gamers on the Geek do both, for the above reasons.

Social games (as they are generally called in Italy, France and the Netherlands) will always stay with us, and the best guarantee is the continuous issue of new, inspiring and fun games for every type of player.
 
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I agree with David Boeren's statement about social stereotypes at least here in the United States.

I think there is a big difference between video games and boardgames, aside from the social interactiveness, which is the fact that boardgames require some level of engaged thinking while videogames are more instinctual and mindless. As abovementioned, people want to relax with something mindless during their free time. This is what detracts people generally from boardgames, since they require not only learning a set of rules which in itself demands a level of engagement but also usually analytical thinking.

At least in my group the rampant explocrysion of Poker onto the scene has virtually destroyed boardgames. Nobody plays them anymore and as a consequence I have returned to frequenting BSW regularly. Poker is simultaneously "cool" and engaging. Good-Bye boardgames forever. cry
 
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Dane Peacock
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obsolete?
obsolete? Board games have never been lete! Not the kind of games we like anyway. It has always been a struggle to find people that would play the 'kind' of games I like. Magic Realm, Swashbuckler, Albion, and dozens of other AH and SPI games.

We love this hobby and want others to enjoy it too, but we are in a niche. Here is my prediction:

1. Board gaming will always be around and designers will always bring out more games. It will even grow in popularity as more and more people are introduced to the German, Euro, or Modern style games.

2. It will never become part of the mainstream American culture.
 
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Joel Glidden
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To the uninitiated, engaging in a boardgame without prior knowledge of it's rules presents a very real risk of public humiliation. You just -might- do something wrong, and other people will be there to witness it. gulp

On the other hand, the typical video game cares for the new player in a manner not unlike that of a mother with a newborn. The video game holds the new player by the hand and gradually introduces new concepts while strictly limiting or outright eliminating any way for the new player to make a misstep.

So, to sum up, I think it's all about the fear of public humiliation.

/3 cents. Keep the change.
 
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Michael Sosa
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Not obsolete, but not mainstream either...
I don't think face to face gaming will become obsolete because of video games. As someone who spent hours and hours on video games I realize now that I'm older who antisocial they are, even when you play multiplayer games online. The exception is playing video games with others in the same place, like LAN parties for example. This is relatively comparable to getting a bunch of friends together for board gaming.


However there is a timeless appeal to board games and I do believe it is a socially acceptable entertainment choice, similar to playing cards which includes Poker! However most games are niche products respective of the entire population. Chess is hugely popular, but most people don't play regularly. Even Poker is niche, and especially designer games and war games. Some may be more popular than others, but most people do not care to play Halo or any other particular game. So while playing non video games is socially acceptable entertainment, any particular game may not be liked or known.

I think most people are willing to try new types of games, that has been my personal experience. A lot of people however are not aware of the possibility of spending an evening playing games rather than watching TV though. I often see people at school and work playing solitaire and I always think, that's a potential board gamer! And there are some people who think they don't like games because they have never experienced the fun from this social activity as adults.

You can get anyone to play with you by playing with them some game they are familiar with and like (including a video game) and judging by this taste, introduce them to something else. For Poker players, I recommend Bang! It has worked for me.
 
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Lou Moratti
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Not mainstream
My experience is that modern board games are just unknown to the general public. And when I say modern I mean euro/strategy games in a broad sense. You only see them in niche stores and the perception of board games, as some posts above point out, is that it's party stuff or kid's stuff. Exposure is the key. I have turned a lot of people on to board games who otherwise wouldn't know what's out there. I have yet to encounter someone who tells me the experience was bad and no thanks. If these games don't end up migrating into mainstream stores the only way to popularize them is for those in the know to spread the word.
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Yep, we are spreading like a virus, geometrically.
Just a matter of time....Ve WILL CONQUER ZE WORLD !laugh
 
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Adam Deverell
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Computers are saving boardgames!
I happily moved away from boardgames into computer games during my teens, as I found gaming in the 80s rather depressing (although I never played a serious wargame during this time).

However the main threat to boardgames is what brought me back to them - the computer. The Internet is the main moving force for boardgames. It is through the computer I discovered Settlers of Catan and El Grande and it is through PBeM that I have found a renewed interest in wargames.

I don't think its a bad thing that people in their teens and early twenties don't like boardgames - I feel euros and wargames are far better suited to older gamers anyway. This is when we want a social activity, something cerebal and perhaps more mature than the comic-book themes of computer gaming. We also have more money to spend than the average teen, so we can support our hobby well.

Computer games will only make board games obsolete when 30+ year-old gamers give up on gaming and return to ploughing the field and making bird houses to get their kicks.


 
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Ben Brandhorst
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Well I am only speaking for myself but I very much enjoy boardgames. I prefere wargames but I would be willing to try just about anything. The major task is getting others to give them a shot. I have been trying to convince a buddy of mine to play the ASL starter kit with me. Hopefully we will be able to have a go at it this weekend.

There is just something about actually touching the pieces of a game. Being able to look your opponent in the eye or engage in idle chit chat in between turns. Being able to congratulate them on a victory well earned over a cold beer. Those things cannot be replaced by computer games. Don't get me wrong. I play lots of PC games and also enjoy them. But they won't replace anything for me.
 
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James Pinnion
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each to their own
I think board games will continue to grow from here, just as I'd rather read a book or magazine than a website; simple board games will always have the "touchy-feely" advantage over the networked video game equivelent. And by simple, I'd consider Paths of Glory or Squad leader easier to play with a board set up in front of me, rather than reading the board from a screen. No wonder there's room for innovation!

But that said, there will always be the group of people for whom thinking on the same subect for more than ten minutes=boring, even if that group seems to b diminishing at the moment.
 
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Jonatan Lind
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Games will grow
I agree with red_gamster above. The new technology is what made board-games a part of my life again. I played board-games when I was young in the eighties and I switched to computergames when games appeared that would let you play turnbased strategy in front of the computer. Computergames like civ, warlords and HoMM etcetera filled my need for what boardgames gave me before. I started out playing theses games together with friends, taking turns in front of the computer. When internet and LAN came along I started to play computergames online but after a while I realized something were missing; my friends and the direct social interaction. Euro styled boardgames gave this back to me.
By now a whole world has opened up to me, now I have bought games from the US, Germany and even Canada and I can look up all new games before they are released for sale. I no longer have to do with the overpriced games that they sell at my local game store (mostly mainstream games, but also some goodies).

Someone else wrote that in the future we can play computer games together as if we had played a boardgame. But would this not actually be a boardgame? I think so, it would be a computerized boardgame of sorts.
How cool wouldn't that be? A table with some kind of graphical interface and voice-based interaction:
-Table! Set up a game of 4-player Puerto Rico!
Voila! the gameboard turns into Puerto Rico and you are ready to play with your friends face to face without having to set up the board.
I would still see this as a boardgame though, a computer enhanced boardgame
 
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Iain K
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Boardgames have been, and always will be part of the cornucopia of things adults do for entertainment. Will they ever be main stream or "pop"? I don't think so, and they never have been. But I believe they'll always be with us. People like to think every now and again, and we like physical, tactile things like books and boardgames.
 
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Jim R
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I agree with others' comments that board games will never really go away, but will mostly remain a niche. The lighter games may get some mainstream exposure, but most people simply do not want to think vey much during their leisure time, and many people get little enjoyment from analytical or strategic thinking. Movies and TV are passive, easy activities, and will always be much more popular.

The replacement of board games by a computerized "table" or flat horizontal screen is a possibility. You would have to figure out how to provide hidden info to each player, via physical screens over parts of the table, or handheld units. But the tactile feel of boardgame components have their own charm and appeal which can never be duplicated by computer images, no matter how realistic.

As far as LAN computer games go, they are not nearly as social as boardgames. From my experience, LAN games tend to promote each player focussing almost exclusively on his own situation, sometimes interacting with other players' units or pieces, but not really caring what they do unless it impacts the player directly. In boardgames, you tend to care about what everyone is doing, since you have no other choice but to observe them taking their turn, and this promotes much more social interaction.
 
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