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Subject: Please tell me about the history of cooperative board games rss

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Ben K
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Hi!

I'm a developmental psychologist (and gamer) currently using competitive and cooperative board games to explore young children's developing attitudes to competition and cooperation. But I'm also interesting more generally in cooperation and competition in board games. In a sense even competitive games are cooperative because players agree to abide by a certain set of rules, and are therefore engaged in a common enterprise. I have a feeling this is one of the things which make competitive games so enticing - they simultaneously satisfy these two basic human urges. But purely cooperative board games seem to be currently enjoying a surge of popularity. I wonder where cooperative games originated. Does anyone know of any texts which discuss these issues? I'm thinking primarily academic sociological/historical/psychology works, but obviously I'm interested in any intelligent thoughts on the subject.

Cheers,

Ben
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Jonathon Ebonsword
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I'm sure that there are many people out there who know far more about the subject than I do.

That being said, co-op games are not a new phenomenon. They go back to at least the late 1970's. The early ones that I am aware of seem to have grown out of the rise of Dungeons and Dragons.

Back then (like today) it wasn't always easy to get a group of people together to play a full-on RPG, and, even if you could get a group together, you might have trouble finding someone willing to be the Dungeon Master. So, that lead to solo games like DeathMaze and The Fantasy Trip. However, since these solo games feature multiple characters to control, it was easy to also play them co-op, with the various players each using one or more characters.
 
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p55carroll
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Just some thoughts off the top of my head:

Team-vs-team games date back to antiquity, though usually in the form of sports rather than board games. Teamwork is the basis of cooperative play.

Partnership card games and such involve cooperating with someone.

When role-playing games (RPGs) emerged in the early 1970s (born from wargames, where the only cooperation was the team-vs-team thing), the idea of players working together against the game system (run by a game master) took hold.

In the modern Eurogame era, the oldest cooperative game I can think of is Knizia's Lord of the Rings. I think it was natural that it had a fantasy theme, like most RPGs.

A few years ago, Pandemic and Red November were published and became popular. Then followed Ghost Stories, Space Alert, and several others.

Some complain that the games feel too much like solitaire (they can all be played solitaire) and that one player sometimes ends up dominating a group and making all the decisions for everybody. Some insist that there has to be a lot of time pressure to make the game fun (a feature of Space Alert). Some only like cooperative games if there's a traitor (i.e., one player is secretly the enemy of the group, not really an ally) or if the opposition is controlled by a player (as in Lord of the Rings: Sauron).

But then there are those who are happy with a light, fun, cooperative game like Forbidden Island, which can easily be taught to kids or anybody.
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"1 versus many" games like Scotland Yard and HeroQuest were very popular too. I think being the bad guy appeals to many of us.
 
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
In the modern Eurogame era, the oldest cooperative game I can think of is Knizia's Lord of the Rings.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective gets no respect.
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Brad N
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Jim Deacove is a designer who has made it his work to develop cooperative games for children. In my opinion, he has developed some great games (e.g. Round-Up) and some stinkers. Most of his games are pretty cheaply made and do not have professional artwork. But, as far as I know, they are all truly cooperative.

I once found this interview with Mr. Deacove on Fair Play Games website and it might be helpful too... Interview with Jim Deacove
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p55carroll
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E Decker wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
In the modern Eurogame era, the oldest cooperative game I can think of is Knizia's Lord of the Rings.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective gets no respect.

It gets a lot of respect. It's highly rated and often recommended. It slipped my mind, however, because I've always thought of it as a solitaire game. And I'll bet it has been played that way more often than as a cooperative game.
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William Boykin
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amorphia wrote:
Hi!

I'm a developmental psychologist (and gamer) currently using competitive and cooperative board games to explore young children's developing attitudes to competition and cooperation.... Does anyone know of any texts which discuss these issues? I'm thinking primarily academic sociological/historical/psychology works, but obviously I'm interested in any intelligent thoughts on the subject.

Cheers,

Ben


Why should I do your homework for you?

I mean, seriously, if I helped you with this, and you were to use this research in an academic setting, if I were to give you what I know, I'd want at least a full citation for my own CV, if not co-authorship.

Darilian
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Victoria Osborne
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Probably the oldest cooporative game was Wizards it came out in 1982 you had to work with each other to keep from evil winning, though there was a race element in the game, and it absolutly did not work if you messed each other over. That would be the first cooporative game i can remember
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Stew Woods
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A lot of cooperative games game out of the New Games Movement in the early 1970s..

Linda Hughes did a lot of research into children's games and was interested in the way that all competitive play requires a high degree of collaboration. Read her stuff. It's good.

Also, this might help:

Zagal, J. P., Rick, J., & Hsi, I. (2006). Collaborative games: Lessons learned from board games. Simulation and Gaming, 37(1), 24-40.

Quote:
I mean, seriously, if I helped you with this, and you were to use this research in an academic setting, if I were to give you what I know, I'd want at least a full citation for my own CV, if not co-authorship.


You wouldn't get far in an academic setting then.

As someone who works in academia, I can tell you it happens all the time with no attribution. It's called collegiality.
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Dan Edelen
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This link shows all the games on BGG listed as Cooperative Play. You can order the list by year published to get a sense of timeline. Clicking on the results will give you info about each game.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamemechanic/2023/co-operative...
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Ben K
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Thanks a lot for so many responses, folks! Thanks particularly for all the thoughts on the history of coop games, the interview with Jim Deacove, the idea for ranking coop games by release date, and Stew Wood, thanks for the really useful looking specific references.

I haven't got far with my own data collection yet, but one anecdotal observation is that the idea of competitive games doesn't seem that intuitive to children who are old enough to understand a basic game, but not old enough yet to have played a lot of them. I'm sure many of you have noticed for example that young children often see no reason why a game should cease just because one player has reached the goal. My feeling is that people who claim that we train children to be more competitive with competitive board games may be right, and this is one hypothesis I am planning to properly test. To what extent this competitiveness transfers into other situations is of course the big question.

The funny thing is, I don't particularly enjoy cooperative games myself. I suspect I have like many others been trained into something of a hyper-competitor in board game settings.

Interesting also that such hyper-competitivity has even (innapropriately) turned up in this thread (and been rightly criticised)!

Cheers,

Ben
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Stew Woods
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Ben,

Piaget (I think - or Vygotsky?) noted that children play alongside each other and slowly evolve the notion of competitive and rule-bound play.
Worth looking into...
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p55carroll
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lokides wrote:
Quote:
I mean, seriously, if I helped you with this, and you were to use this research in an academic setting, if I were to give you what I know, I'd want at least a full citation for my own CV, if not co-authorship.


You wouldn't get far in an academic setting then.

As someone who works in academia, I can tell you it happens all the time with no attribution. It's called collegiality.

Collegiality--say, that might make a great theme for a cooperative game!
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p55carroll
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Just an aside: Even in so-called cooperative games, you're competing fiercely against something--working together against some great evil.

The only game that would not be competitive is something like The Ungame. But as its name suggests, it's probably not a game at all.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
lokides wrote:
Quote:
I mean, seriously, if I helped you with this, and you were to use this research in an academic setting, if I were to give you what I know, I'd want at least a full citation for my own CV, if not co-authorship.


You wouldn't get far in an academic setting then.

As someone who works in academia, I can tell you it happens all the time with no attribution. It's called collegiality.

Collegiality--say, that might make a great theme for a cooperative game!

Collegiality ... in academia? Sounds more like a back-stabber than a co-op to me.
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Clyde W
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Just some thoughts off the top of my head:

Team-vs-team games date back to antiquity, though usually in the form of sports rather than board games. Teamwork is the basis of cooperative play.

Partnership card games and such involve cooperating with someone.

When role-playing games (RPGs) emerged in the early 1970s (born from wargames, where the only cooperation was the team-vs-team thing), the idea of players working together against the game system (run by a game master) took hold.

In the modern Eurogame era, the oldest cooperative game I can think of is Knizia's Lord of the Rings. I think it was natural that it had a fantasy theme, like most RPGs.

A few years ago, Pandemic and Red November were published and became popular. Then followed Ghost Stories, Space Alert, and several others.

Some complain that the games feel too much like solitaire (they can all be played solitaire) and that one player sometimes ends up dominating a group and making all the decisions for everybody. Some insist that there has to be a lot of time pressure to make the game fun (a feature of Space Alert). Some only like cooperative games if there's a traitor (i.e., one player is secretly the enemy of the group, not really an ally) or if the opposition is controlled by a player (as in Lord of the Rings: Sauron).

But then there are those who are happy with a light, fun, cooperative game like Forbidden Island, which can easily be taught to kids or anybody.
This skips Arkham Horror, which fits in between Lord of the Rings and Pandemic. It's a definitely a notable game in the genre.
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Liam
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If your looking for a simple narrative you can reasonably argue that while the genre has been around from the 70s the past 7 years (2005-12) have been a boom time for the category.

Personally I'd put that largely down to the dominance of computer games and how playing against 'the computer' with friends is an orthodox outlook creating new demands for games to offer AI. (Though obviously there is more going on.)

Here's our list of all games with corporative mechanics by ranks. Be warned some of these are not fully corporative.

What's interesting about that is that all the aggression projected by anti-videogame rhetoric fails to take into account that video-games and their demand have further the development of cooperative peaceful games - which has strengthened the board-game market that video-games were expected to destroy.
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Dale Moore
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Darilian wrote:
amorphia wrote:
Hi!

I'm a developmental psychologist (and gamer) currently using competitive and cooperative board games to explore young children's developing attitudes to competition and cooperation.... Does anyone know of any texts which discuss these issues? I'm thinking primarily academic sociological/historical/psychology works, but obviously I'm interested in any intelligent thoughts on the subject.

Cheers,

Ben


Why should I do your homework for you?

I mean, seriously, if I helped you with this, and you were to use this research in an academic setting, if I were to give you what I know, I'd want at least a full citation for my own CV, if not co-authorship.

Darilian


Are we not a community that came together to talk about board games? So you only what to share your deep knowledge with non-academics?


I don't think in his paper, if he's even writing one, he's going to list some dude from a forum. I think he's just looking for ideas on where to start.

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lokides wrote:
Ben,

Piaget (I think - or Vygotsky?) noted that children play alongside each other and slowly evolve the notion of competitive and rule-bound play.
Worth looking into...


You could also touch on Rousseau state of nature advancing a similar argument that coopratives are a natural fit for children and competition based around overt understandings of power is learned and comes later through socialisation into society.
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Liam
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Quote:
Does anyone know of any texts which discuss these issues?


Well a basic google Scholar Search of "cooperative board game" offers a few worthy articles:

Cooperative games: a way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297825/?page=1

Negotiation in a non-cooperative environment
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09528139108915294

Collaborative games: Lessons learned from board games
http://sag.sagepub.com/content/37/1/24.short

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Benjamin Maggi
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

A few years ago, Pandemic and Red November were published and became popular. Then followed Ghost Stories, Space Alert, and several others.


With all due respect, I think the introduction of "Shadows over Camelot" really brought the genre back and put it in the mainstream again. The hype over that game was huge, and in my opinion deservedly so.

As for the "many vs. one" games which are semi-coop, "Escape from Colditz" predates the ones mentioned I believe.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
In the modern Eurogame era, the oldest cooperative game I can think of is Knizia's Lord of the Rings. I think it was natural that it had a fantasy theme, like most RPGs.


Didn't Arkham Horror come out in the 80s?
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monkeyhandz wrote:
lokides wrote:
Ben,

Piaget (I think - or Vygotsky?) noted that children play alongside each other and slowly evolve the notion of competitive and rule-bound play.
Worth looking into...


You could also touch on Rousseau state of nature advancing a similar argument that coopratives are a natural fit for children and competition based around overt understandings of power is learned and comes later through socialisation into society.


From history we see many instances of cooperative behavior, but also constant reminders that humans have an inherent selfish (e.g. competitive) streak. It goes as far back as Cain killing his brother Abel. Parten discussed stages of play (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parten%27s_stages_of_play), noting that younger children will play alongside each other without truly interacting. (Multi-player solitaire, anyone?) True cooperative play comes with more maturity.

Cooperative gaming nurtures our cooperation skills, and provides rewards for joint accomplishments. We need reminders that personal success does not have to come at the expense of others. And when joint efforts fail, we can experience social support that reduces the weight of the loss.
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Benjamin Maggi wrote:
With all due respect, I think the introduction of "Shadows over Camelot" really brought the genre back and put it in the mainstream again. The hype over that game was huge, and in my opinion deservedly so.

Shadows was what, three or four years after Lord of the Rings? I hardly think it put the genre back on the map...

Shadows was a big game, on a level with Ghost Stories or Pandemic, but it doesn't really stand out in any way in terms of importance to the genre.

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