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Subject: Gamer's Games - discuss rss

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Iain K
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Inspired by Calmus' recent Geeklist on Geek terms, I'd like to discuss exactly what is meant by the term "a gamer's game"

To start the ball rolling, I refer you to comments by Potterama and myself at:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

 
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Alex Bove
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I also stoked the fire w/ my follow-up comments on that list. This could be a long and very interesting journal.
 
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Stephen Tavener
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Gamer's game: most gamers have this in their library, or would have this game in their library if the could afford it.

Now we just need to define "gamer"...

A gamer is soneone who would stop whatever they were doing in order to join in, if a game were just about to start. Note: most gamers are single.
 
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Aaron Potter
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Stephen...
Quote:
Gamer's game: most gamers have this in their library, or would have this game in their library if the could afford it.



This is, for my bag , 100% backwards. I think the term is usually deployed around here to denote games most people, and *even most gamers* do *not* have in their library, and don't want. I think it's a term of elitism -- whether or not that is seen as a positive or negative quality may depend on whether or not you favor such games.
 
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Gamers Game. A game where you start reading the rules to you wife and she goes into a catatonic state after the first two paragraphs of page one. Gamers Game.

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Mark McEvoy
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I'm not entirely sure people always use it correctly to begin with. The term " 's " is usually reserved for material that is best appreciated by someone who CREATES similar material (musician's music, artist's art, writer's book). And I think that's where the elitism of that sort of phrasing comes from - in the musician example, it's like saying "You'd have to make music yourself to appreciate this music".


A "Gamer's Game" seems to try to bestow the same elitism on anyone who... plays a lot of games? Seems bizarre.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Gr. I use the pointy-braces (greater than / less than) as parentheses sometimes and keep forgetting on this system it strips the contents. That part that says " 's " should read "[something]'s [something]".
 
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Steve Bachman
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Okay, I was pondering the definition when I saw this on the Geeklist as well as this journal. I no longer need to because Chris R nailed it on the head perfectly. He described exactly what I was thinking when I think a game is a "gamer's game".

As for potterama's opinions on the matter, it appears to me that he has some issues with some "gamers" that he knows. Also, from the comments he has given most of the games he has rated, I take it he is just a pretty negative person. I think it is wise to take his criticisms of "gamers" with a grain of salt.

 
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Mary Weisbeck
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I think a gamer's game is one where you have almost total control of your destiny. A family game would have more randomness or luck, thereby less control.

The difference would be between a bridge player and one who loves 6 Nimmt. Or Through the Desert, which I taught to a non-gamer who displayed very little enthusiasm for it, and The Game of Life, which gives you very few meaningful choices.
 
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Josh Edlin
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It seems a number of folks think that the designation 'gamer's game' implies elitism. I disagree. In my mind, a gamer's game is simply the sort of game that is almost exclusively appreciated by dedicated gamers. I don't see that as elitist, but merely a statement of fact.

For instance, I recently bought a book about the history of monetary policy in the United States. The general response among my friends was a sarcastic 'oh, that look like fun reading.' Not to them maybe, but I definitely enjoy reading it. Is it elitist for me to acknowledge that it is the sort of book that only economics enthusiasts would read? An economist's economics book, as it were? I don't think so.

Neither do I think that a gamer's game must be loved by gamers one-and-all. I dislike Taj Mahal, but I recognize it as a gamer's game.

Ultimately, I think that the term 'gamer's game' is related to the old line 'a face only a mother could love.' These types of games simply don't appeal to the majority of people. Whether this is due to complexity, experience advantage, mechanics, or other factors, a gamer's game is defined by the people playing it. Find any table where Die Macher is being played, and you've found a group of people you can be sure are serious gamers.
 
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Alexander King
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OOP
Ok here is a term I have seen bandied about on here...OOP....any help?
 
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Iain K
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devilExcellent . . . excellent . . . now I know how the devil feels. devil

Seriously, good points to date, but let's keep things positive.

I believe Aaron makes a fair point, sometimes people use terms like "Gamer's Game" to indicate that a game is a "Real" game in their lofty opinion as opposed to a lesser "game".

Now I don't use the term that way, but there are some folks who might.

Example, is Heroscape a Gamer's Game? Is die Macher?

Is Carcassonne? Is Tigris & Euphrat? Aren't they really the same . . . {cue tirades}

devil
 
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Iain K
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OOP = out of print as in a game that is no longer produced.
 
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Aaron Potter
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Chris said:
Quote:
Gamers play a lot of games. Or more specifically they can end up playing the same game or type of game a lot. A gamers game is a game that will reward experience in playing it. The more you play the better you get at its strategies.


That's a very interesting perspective, since it equates "gamer" with "one who plays games more frequently than the general populace, and who often studies their strategies in order to improve play." I'm not sure I agree that this is what everyone means when they say "gamers' game," but I think I like your description of the term better than the way most use it.

Steven, feel free to peruse my postings for personal attacks against any particular person you think I "have a problem with." When you do so, note carefully whether or not I initiated the hostilities. And for the record, my ratings are much closer to the 'ideal' bell curve distribution than yours are.

Oh, and OOP = Out of Print.
 
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Aaron Potter
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Josh...
Josh writes:
Quote:
In my mind, a gamer's game is simply the sort of game that is almost exclusively appreciated by dedicated gamers.


Okay. Now could you define "gamer" please? Because in your entry, you seem to suggest a "gamer" is one who "plays gamers' games." That's too circular to be useful. I'd be interested in seeing a more concrete definition -- how do you distinguish a "gamer" from the general populace? I don't think it's useful to say "one who plays games frequently," because *I* play games frequently (I'll define that as 5 games/week or more, to be on the safe side) and yet I can't think of a commonly designated "gamers' game" that I enjoy.
 
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Ken
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Great timing
Earlier this week I had a similar discussion with a friend and self described grognard. What is a "gamers game" and why does the term come off as elitist?

We concluded that theme plays a part, as does fiddliness of the rules. There seem to be certain themes that work better for non or casual gamers. Gamers also seem more tolerant of how hard you have to work at the mechanics - fiddliness. That in fact may be part of the joy for self described gamers.

I think the perception of elitism comes from "Oh, I'm not interested in that one, it's too simple. I want a gamer's game."

 
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Steve Bachman
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Quote:
Josh writes:
Quote:
In my mind, a gamer's game is simply the sort of game that is almost exclusively appreciated by dedicated gamers.


Okay. Now could you define "gamer" please? Because in your entry, you seem to suggest a "gamer" is one who "plays gamers' games." That's too circular to be useful. I'd be interested in seeing a more concrete definition -- how do you distinguish a "gamer" from the general populace? I don't think it's useful to say "one who plays games frequently," because *I* play games frequently (I'll define that as 5 games/week or more, to be on the safe side) and yet I can't think of a commonly designated "gamers' game" that I enjoy.


Josh's use of "exclusively" should not be ignored. It means that in his opinion, a "gamer's game" would only be appreciated by "dedicated gamers". It does not mean that all "dedicated gamers" would appreciate a "gamer's game". Aaron, you may be a "gamer" by any definition (if "gamer" could really be accurately defined), but that does not mean you have to then appreciate "gamer's games". Josh's third paragraph explains this. And he also is correct, in my opinion, that a group playing a "gamer's game" would almost certainly be all "serious gamers", whereas a group playing something like Monopoly might just be folks passing the time while snowed in.

As for the ratings critique, I'm not sure why you believe that a bell curve distribution is "ideal". Should everyone be forced to play games they dislike so that they can maintain that "ideal"? It works for school tests, but not for boardgames. I was priviledged to have an older friend teach me many boardgames while growing up. He bought tons of them as they were released, and only taught me (and others in the group) the better ones or ones he thought we would all enjoy. When I started collecting my own games, I started with the ones I already knew I liked. My average of 6.5+ might be skewed upwards in your opinion, but it is more due to other factors than not being a negative person. My critique of your apparent negativity was not the rating numbers, but the comments. Is it really necessary to rip apart kid's games like Chutes & Ladders and Candyland and express that they are plagues on society? I would guess you, like most people, played them when you were of the age that they were designed for.

The point is, "gamer's games" are definitely fun for those "serious gamers" who enjoy them, otherwise they wouldn't be playing them. Kid's games are generally fun for the kids playing them, otherwise they wouldn't keep asking to play them. "Light" games and "beer & pretzl" games are fun for the gamers who have played them before, but not necessarily for newbies learning the game. Games are supposed to be fun, but "fun" is too subjective to every individual. I can see the enjoyment in many games, but they wouldn't be fun for me. Likewise, many of my favorite games have folks who would rather eat glass than play again. It's just a matter of taste, so I feel calling players of "gamer's games" snobs and stating that there is no fun in a "gamer's game" is very unfair, in my opinion.
 
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Jason Kraft
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Gamer = Otaku
The way that the term Gamer is being used here reminds me of the Japanese term "Otaku". The term is generaly applied to collectors/fans of anime (animation), but can be applied to any hobbyist who takes to their hobby in an obsessive way.

So, just saying a gamer is "someone who games" isn't quite the same as saying "a Gamer-Otaku on BGG analyzing and contributing to a gaming community (of other Otakus)".

I hope this helps.
 
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Josh Edlin
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Aaron...
Quote:
Okay. Now could you define "gamer" please? Because in your entry, you seem to suggest a "gamer" is one who "plays gamers' games." That's too circular to be useful.


I didn't intend to imply that definition. I believe this is a logic problem. Not all gamers play gamer's games, but all gamer's games are played almost exclusively by gamers.

Similarly, if I mention a 'car', I'm not necessarily referring to a Pontiac Grand Am, but if I mention a Pontiac Grand Am, I am always referring to a car.

I define a gamer as anyone who refers to themselves as a 'gamer' (at least in the board and card game sense; let's leave video games out of this). There are plenty of people who play games frequently (say Bridge or Risk) who don't think of themselves as gamers. We at BGG might refer to these people as casual gamers as a distinction. If you have invested enough time towards playing games to start thinking of yourself as a gamer, then you are absolutely a gamer.

As to my definition of gamer's game, it is simply this: if the majority of people who are attracted to a game consider themselves gamers, then the game is a gamer's game. Not many "casual gamers" (i.e. those not defining themselves as gamers) will be attracted to games like Die Macher, Taj Mahal, or Goa.
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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Another characteristic of a gamer's game is that it is difficult to find opponents for them... except at game conventions and game clubs.
 
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Scott Russell
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When I see gamer's game, here is my take.

A game that takes a long time and/or several plays to compete with experienced players. Therefore, it will not be enjoyed by a "casual" gamer. To me, it's more of a willingness to commit time to learning and/or practicing the game's system rather than jumping in and playing competitively. It probably also rewards (with a higher winning percentage) analysis of the game.

Up front, I would like to state that I don't believe this makes them "better" games. For example, when we had two couples over that rarely play games, a gamer's game wouldn't have been a good thing to try to play. laugh

Age of Steam and 1870 are not games that I would play with my wife or my eleven year old (yet ). And, if I taught this game to someone completely unfamiliar with the system, I would be very surprised if they won. After a couple of plays (which adds up to several hours), I think any reasonably intelligent and interested player could be competitive.

I would also classify Advanced Squad Leader or World in Flames as this type.

Please note that I really enjoy the first two, but (at least until I retire) will probably not play the latter pair.

Shorter and/or more Euro-ish games that probably fall in that category (or close) are Princes of Florence, Die Macher (only from reputation so far cry )and, maybe, PR.

I think it's possible for a game to move to this status, too. When it came out, PR and Age of Steam was winnable by casual players because there were a large pool of gamers out there that had never seen the game. Now the people playing these games at cons and online are increasingly savvy about the game.

Just my

 
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Scott Russell
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After perusing the other list, I had to comment further.

Here are some quotes from Aaron on the referenced list:





I think these may be a good descriptions. When my friends and I are playing an 18XX game, my wife comes in and declares, "Oh, this is that game where nobody smiles!" We are all (or most) having fun, but we are concentrating harder than many would find enjoyable for several consecutive hours.

Ever been to a chess tournament? It certainly qualifies under these descriptions, but playing speed chess with a closely matched opponent can be a rollicking good time! Same for bridge.

However, some of his other remarks are not as close to the mark:


Nope, I wish everyone had the time and desire to play 1870.


This may be true, but I think unrelated. For example, I am definitely a coffee and a beer snob, but so is my wife and she won't play 1870! I do think that I know more about games than the general population, but most here also fall in that category.



At least in the case of the last president of Mayfair, this wasn't true! He loved making and playing 18XX games!
 
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Aaron Potter
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Er...
Er, Scott? What are you smoking?
Not one of those quotes is by me.
 
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Scott Russell
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My goof, Aaron
Guess what? putting brackets around a quote doesn't work! Those blanks spaces are your remarks, are you sure that they don't look familiar?

I'll try to find them again and use a different method to indicate quotes.
 
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Aaron Potter
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Quote:
Those blanks spaces are your remarks, are you sure that they don't look familiar?


Ah, no, I mistook the empty space for the content of my brain. I assure you, my comments are visible. VERY visible. TOO visible, according to any number of BGG members.
 
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