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Subject: "Add American style" and "euro game" category rss

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Michele Esmanech
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I feel it's needed, especially since the American style games are often classified as "thematic" but there's nothing similar to euro style, if a bunch of combined things (strategy, a few mechanics, no dice rolling... Which is not often correct).

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Curt Carpenter
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That would have been useful like 5-10 years ago. But the line between them is getting pretty blurry. There's a lot of gray area between the two now, and the line seems to be getting blurrier rather than clearer.
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Simon Lundström
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That's what "american" and "strategic" was implemented for, technically.
 
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Russ Williams
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Zimeon wrote:
That's what "american" and "strategic" was implemented for, technically.

I think you mean the subdomains "Thematic" and "Strategy" which are silly euphemisms for American/Ameritrash and Euro, right?
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russ wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
That's what "american" and "strategic" was implemented for, technically.

I think you mean the subdomains "Thematic" and "Strategy" which are silly euphemisms for American/Ameritrash and Euro, right?


Well, half correct. They aren't euphemisms exactly, but were constructed to fit, at least partly. To add "euro" and "american style" now would be rather silly.
 
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Russ Williams
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Zimeon wrote:
russ wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
That's what "american" and "strategic" was implemented for, technically.

I think you mean the subdomains "Thematic" and "Strategy" which are silly euphemisms for American/Ameritrash and Euro, right?


Well, half correct. They aren't euphemisms exactly, but were constructed to fit, at least partly. To add "euro" and "american style" now would be rather silly.

Why would it be silly? People continue to use the terms "euro" and "Ameritrash" frequently, and they know what kind of games they're talking about.

And in the past, as now, plenty of non-euro games were certainly Strategic (e.g. abstract strategy games, and plenty of Ameritrash games), and plenty of non-Ameritrash games were certainly Thematic (e.g. wargames, and plenty of euros).

It's as if we would use the label "boardgame" to talk only about word games or something.

FWIW I always had the impression "Thematic" and "Strategic" were picked by BGG powers that be as euphemisms (indeed!) just because the labels "Ameritrash" and "euro" were considered controversial by some people.
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Darrell Hanning
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Reminds me of the arguments in the eighties, about "science fiction" versus "speculative fiction" versus "science fantasy" versus "light fantasy". Yeesh. And nowadays, it seems Joe Blow wants to put everything in a "SciFi" pigeonhole, without being bothered with knowing what the hell they're talking about.

The categories - as they are right now - flat-out don't work. They don't work because forty percent of them have to do with how a game works, another forty percent have to do with what a game means to do, and yet another twenty percent has to do with how a game looks. If we used the same type of categorization mentality with anything of greater import, everybody outside of the hobby would be laughing their asses off at us. As it is, most of the world doesn't even know hobby gaming exists, so we continue to stew in our own Rube Goldberg system of categorization.
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russ wrote:
Why would it be silly? People continue to use the terms "euro" and "Ameritrash" frequently, and they know what kind of games they're talking about.


Do they? I've yet to see a proper definition of either of them.

In both cases they are used more as either derogatory or praise terms depending on the warped perspectives of the ones using them...

I've been on the 'geek for about 9 years now and have yet to see these words used in a clear, sensible or meaningful way. (That includes my eventual uses too, BTW).

So my reply to this suggestion is: Please don't.
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Darrell Hanning
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Mallgur wrote:
I've been on the 'geek for about 9 years now and have yet to see these words used in a clear, sensible or meaningful way. (That includes my eventual uses too, BTW).


QFT.
 
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Mallgur wrote:
russ wrote:
Why would it be silly? People continue to use the terms "euro" and "Ameritrash" frequently, and they know what kind of games they're talking about.


Do they? I've yet to see a proper definition of either of them.

Well, the same is true of pretty much all other labels of game categories (e.g. "abstract game", "abstract strategy game", "wargame", "light game", "heavy game", "gateway game", ...) I agree there are sometimes conflicting definitions (in particular, some people seem to treat "light/simple/family euro" as representative of all euros, or (conversely) "heavier/longer/strategic euro" as representative of all euros). But that seems par for the course. You'll similarly find disagreements about (e.g.) whether wargames are strictly historical or can also include science fiction or fantasy or alternate history, and about whether abstract games are strictly 2-player with no chance or hidden info or whether games like Ingenious, Poker, Qwirkle, Backgammon are also abstracts...

Quote:
In both cases they are used more as either derogatory or praise terms depending on the warped perspectives of the ones using them...

I guess that depends on the threads you read. I usually see them used seemingly neutrally in the same way one uses "wargame" or "abstract game", e.g. if someone "Carcassonne is a euro", it doesn't imply that they like or dislike Carcassonne or that type of game.

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I've been on the 'geek for about 9 years now and have yet to see these words used in a clear, sensible or meaningful way. (That includes my eventual uses too, BTW).

I often see them used in discussions where people seem to know what kind of games they're talking about, even if there are (of course, as in all attempts at categorizing creative works!) some ambiguous cases. E.g. if I say to you "Tom only likes euro games and Bill only likes Ameritrash", which games would you assume Tom and Bill play: Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Arkham Horror, Risk Legacy?
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Darrell Hanning
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russ wrote:
I often see them used in discussions where people seem to know what kind of games they're talking about, even if there are (of course, as in all attempts at categorizing creative works!) some ambiguous cases. E.g. if I say to you "Tom only likes euro games and Bill only likes Ameritrash", which games would you assume Tom and Bill play: Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Arkham Horror, Risk Legacy?


Well, just because we know what games are commonly associated with what labels does not mean those labels are logical, well-explained, or consistently applied. It certainly doesn't necessarily follow that anyone can take the definition of that category, and confidently apply it to other games, because that requires an actual, you know, definition.
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DarrellKH wrote:
russ wrote:
I often see them used in discussions where people seem to know what kind of games they're talking about, even if there are (of course, as in all attempts at categorizing creative works!) some ambiguous cases. E.g. if I say to you "Tom only likes euro games and Bill only likes Ameritrash", which games would you assume Tom and Bill play: Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Arkham Horror, Risk Legacy?


Well, just because we know what games are commonly associated with what labels does not mean those labels are logical, well-explained, or consistently applied. It certainly doesn't necessarily follow that anyone can take the definition of that category, and confidently apply it to other games, because that requires an actual, you know, definition.

Agreed to some extent. At least when we do serious formal analysis, it is necessary to have clear logical definitions.

But in everyday speech (whether related to gaming or not) we routinely use all kinds of words without clear logical consistent explicit definitions, simply by accumulated knowledge of examples and (I suppose) creating our personal internal models of what the categories represent and nonetheless successfully communicate to some degree. E.g. discussions of beauty - how do you logically consistently define whether a sunset is beautiful or not? How do you logically consistently define whether music is "rock music" or "country music"? Yet people often seem to agree. How to logically define art categories like impressionism, cubism, pre-raphaelite, etc? All such efforts ultimately seem prone to hand-waving, listing characteristics (which also show up in other types of art), and a lot of pointing at examples, and different people disagreeing on details or even major points.

I agree that even though we often magically muddle through and understand each other (at least to a sufficiently useful degree), often miscommunications happen and even cause trouble. But that seems to be rather inevitably how language works, alas... unless we're all willing to start speaking in predicate logic or something.

I will say that if I'd not been told that the subdomain "strategy" is a code-word for euro, I would have had no clue what it's about, since most games I play, whether euro, abstract, war, etc, have strategy...
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Darrell Hanning
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russ wrote:
But in everyday speech (whether related to gaming or not) we routinely use all kinds of words without clear logical consistent explicit definitions, simply by accumulated knowledge of examples and (I suppose) creating our personal internal models of what the categories represent and nonetheless successfully communicate to some degree. E.g. discussions of beauty - how do you logically consistently define whether a sunset is beautiful or not? How do you logically consistently define whether music is "rock music" or "country music"? Yet people often seem to agree. How to logically define art categories like impressionism, cubism, pre-raphaelite, etc? All such efforts ultimately seem prone to hand-waving, listing characteristics (which also show up in other types of art), and a lot of pointing at examples, and different people disagreeing on details or even major points.


Creating "personal internal models of what the categories represent" is precisely why the categories are meaningless. What is defined six thousand different ways has no definition at all.
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DarrellKH wrote:
Creating "personal internal models of what the categories represent" is precisely why the categories are meaningless. What is defined six thousand different ways has no definition at all.

I don't see it as that extremely black and white. The labels are certainly not meaningless: otherwise we wouldn't see a lot of consistency in the subdomain polls (e.g. 75% call Carcassonne a family game, 25% call it a strategy game) - we'd see something like a uniformly random distribution in the subdomain polls (e.g. equally many people calling Carcassonne a strategy game and a thematic game and a wargame and a ...). So clearly to some nontrivial degree, successful communication is happening.

But yeah, I already agreed it would be nicer if there were better clearer (and better publicized) and agreed upon definitions. Good luck getting that to happen...
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Michele Esmanech
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Categories and categorizations are done on pubblic agreement: if the 75% of the users feel Carcassonne is a strategy game and 25% of the users think of it as a family game, who cares what the exact wording of the definition of strategy and family game is: the people have spoken.
The fact is that in video reviews; in written reviews; in the forums in general; in KS game descriptions, and in many many places (like the Dice Tower Network), we see a game categorized as Ameritrash (or American style), or Euro.

of course there are grey areas, but we all know, more or less (or, anyhow, with a small degree of error) what American-game and Euro-game mean, and we know one when we see it.

Is Lords of waterdeep american or euro? let the people decide! give them the chance, and we'll see.

I proposed this (and I don't think I am the first one to, BTW), because I was looking for some good solo-able euros, but while I could go in the advance search and look for solo-able american games (by checking "thematic") I had to struggle with finding euros only.
 
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Jack Austin
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My disclaimer is that I love the term "Ameritrash" and I'm thinking of printing up t-shirts.

That being said, while the categories can always stand improvement or maybe cross referencing (Carc is family and strategic?) some of the best Ameritrash games of the last several years have been of French origin, so "Euro-style" might not be much of a help either. As for me, I'm learning to embrace "Thematic".
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DarrellKH wrote:
The categories - as they are right now - flat-out don't work. They don't work because forty percent of them have to do with how a game works, another forty percent have to do with what a game means to do, and yet another twenty percent has to do with how a game looks.


Well that, I cannot but agree with. the current categories just don't work at all.
 
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A proposed definition for “Ameritrash” games and “Euro” games.

I believe the most significant differences between the two, comes down to four factors: theme, chance, style of conflict and use of resources.

It is generally agreed that Ameri-trash games are more thematic and than Euro games. Or said another way, that the theme of an Ameri-trash game is more intense and immersive. The theme of a Euro game can be logically consistent but a little less compelling, possibly even dry or bland, certainly not tied directly to game play.

A Euro may or may not have dice or random card draws, but this criteria does not really make it any more or less a Euro. On the other hand, elements of chance seem to be essential for a game to be a successful Ameri-trash game.

Ameri-trash implies a body count. Conflict is direct. I win primarily by inflicting casualties on my enemy. In a typical Euro game the conflict is more subtle. I may make a move that blocks or hinders my opponent but my ultimate strategy does not depend on these actions. I simply interfere with my opponent while I am on my way to accomplish my own objectives.

Resource management is another dividing line. Most Euro games have some mechanic that requires players to acquire, manage, and spend resources in order to achieve a series of short term goals. While this mechanic can potentially sneak into an Ameri-trash game, it is by no means characteristic of these games.

I think these four criteria capture what is meant by these terms. When considering a game, rate each factor on a 1-5 scale, then add them up. Less than 12 its more on the Euro side, more than 12 its probably Ameri-trash.

A Euro game is one where:
Engaging Theme 1-2
Element of Chance 1-3
Direct Conflict 1-2
Doesn’t Use Resources 1-3 (so a game that uses resources a lot would score a 1. Its confusing, but it makes the scale work)

An Ameri-trash game is one that rates the four criteria on
Engaging Theme 3-5
Element of Chance 4-5
Direct Conflict 3-5
Doesn’t Use Resources 4-5
 
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Luke Champlin
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So for example

Heroscape
Engaging Theme 3
Element of Chance 4
Direct Conflict 5
Doesn't use resources 5
TOTAL 17
CONCLUSION Definitely Ameri-trash

Agricola
Engaging Theme 2
Element of Chance 2
Direct Conflict 1
Doesn't use resources 1
TOTAL 6
CONCLUSION Definitely Euro
 
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Darrell Hanning
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Lightbringer12 wrote:
So for example

Heroscape
Engaging Theme 3
Element of Chance 4
Direct Conflict 5
Doesn't use resources 5
TOTAL 17
CONCLUSION Definitely Ameri-trash

Agricola
Engaging Theme 2
Element of Chance 2
Direct Conflict 1
Doesn't use resources 1
TOTAL 6
CONCLUSION Definitely Euro


Putting aside, for the moment, that your quantitative assessments are purely subjective, for every example you come up with that you think underscores your point, I can bring up an example that contradicts it.

In fact, nearly every wargame satisfies your criteria for Ameritrash as well as Heroscape does, or even better. Sorry, but wargamers are not going to suddenly classify all wargames as Ameritrash. That just isn't happening.
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As far as the war gaming point, I don't disagree with you. This scale was more for determining the definition of Euro vs. Ameri-trash.

Currently they seem to be defined as opposites. One depends on the other for determining a definition. I don't think either one is a distinct classification when you compare them to other categories. You can have an Ameri-trash war game and you could have a Euro war game, an Ameri-trash family game, and a Euro family game.

Also, despite the numbers being subjective, even if you differed from me a point or two, your overall score will not be significantly different than mine. It will still be a good indicator.

I don't know what example you could come up with that would contradict this. Are you saying you could manipulate the score to say one thing, while your gut still said it should be in the other category? I would like to see an example of that.
 
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Lightbringer12 wrote:
I don't know what example you could come up with that would contradict this. Are you saying you could manipulate the score to say one thing, while your gut still said it should be in the other category? I would like to see an example of that.

How about my favorite game of the past several years, Innovation? Using ballpark numbers, I'd judge this as follows:

Engaging Theme – 3
Element of Chance – 4
Direct Conflict – 5
Doesn't use resources – 5

Total: 17

Hey, that's the same as Heroscape, but I'd never thought of Innovation as Ameritrash previously, and I still don't.
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Lightbringer12 wrote:
Currently they seem to be defined as opposites.


They are used as opposites, but are still undefined.

Quote:
Also, despite the numbers being subjective, even if you differed from me a point or two, your overall score will not be significantly different than mine. It will still be a good indicator.


No it won't.

Quote:
I don't know what example you could come up with that would contradict this. Are you saying you could manipulate the score to say one thing, while your gut still said it should be in the other category? I would like to see an example of that.


Easy as pie...

Tigris & Euphrates:

Engaging Theme – 4
Element of Chance – 3
Direct Conflict – 5
Doesn't use resources – 5

Total: 17

Definitely something...

Also note that the first two scores (especially the first) may vary from person to person. Some say Tigris is an abstract, others claim it is won by the person that draws more red tiles. So it could swing all about in scores.

People will continue to use "Euro vs Ameri" and relish in the petty war of words they provide, sure. But let's not make it official by having categories on them, shall we?
 
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Lightbringer12 wrote:
As far as the war gaming point, I don't disagree with you. This scale was more for determining the definition of Euro vs. Ameri-trash.



If your scale can't be used to distinguish either type of game from any other type, then it's a relative comparison, only, and not truly a scale. All you're doing is measuring subjective quantification in one-on-one comparisons, which will differ in values from one person to the next. That isn't any better, really, than the mess we already have.

For the record, I don't think they're opposites, either. In fact, I've been saying for years what Curt said, above, in one of the first responses - that there has been too much cross-fertilization of ideas for far too long. I'll go one further - the concept of "Ameritrash" wasn't just born too late, it was a stillbirth from the beginning.
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Ok. I yield. I didn't suggest that it was a perfect definition. Its a proposed definition. If having an agreed on definition is something that people think is useful, this was intended to be a humble starting point for the beginning of a discussion, not an arrogant declaration to end the discussion as it seems to have been taken. I still think the four criteria are mostly valid. But so far the only responses are 'this is a terrible idea' then my conclusion is that people are more interested in preserving everyone's gut feeling definition rather than working to agree on one. Make a suggestion on how to improve the proposed definition, or propose one of your own. Its easy to tell someone why their idea won't work. Help me make this one better. Any agreed on definition will certainly require compromises and absolutely it will have exceptions.

Again, I make no claim to being an expert, I was responding to the general tone of this post that people seemed to think an agreed upon definition would be useful, so I proposed one.
 
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