One Year Writing a Board Game Blog
When I sat down to write a post this week, I looked over at the archive listed on our homepage. I was sitting there looking at it when, it hit me. This is the blogs 1-year anniversary! Seriously, a year! I don’t even know how I’ve kept this thing going this long let alone started a podcast to go alongside it.
So now I rather suddenly know that this is the 1-year extravaganza. I feel like I have to do some sort of crazy, awesome, awe-inspired retrospective. Otherwise, I may miss the boat entirely. Well, here we go, no pressure or anything.
One Year Writing a Board Game Blog
I have been playing tabletop games for years. But I’ve never looked at games, the gaming industry, and the gaming community as closely as I have over the past year. Each time I sat down at the computer to research a topic to write, I learned more about this great hobby of ours. Including how we can make a better/larger community, what we want in our games, and where game design is going in the future.
We need to talk about games more
You may be saying to yourself,”David we talk about games all the time, in fact, we are talking about them right now”. Or so the pretend reader sitting next to me while I write this tells me. And you are right, we do talk about them a lot. The problem is we only talk about them with other gamers. Boosh. See, I blew your mind.
The one thing I keep finding over and over again is that people who don’t play games don’t know anything about them. Many people hold onto their memories of playing games when they were younger and carry the misconception that games never changed into their adulthood. But, that’s wrong. And we all know that is wrong. Games have changed so dramatically over even just the past 10 years. Modern boards games would be barely recognizable to publishers/designers in the late 80s and early 90s.
Designers expect a lot more for their players. They also have more respect for what their players are capable of. We don’t have Milton Bradley and Hasbro treating us like sheep. Shipping off roll and move trash with whatever intellectual property (IP) is popular at the moment. Well, we don’t have it happen as much. And that means games are getting smarter. They are challenging our ways of thinking. Changing the ways we communicate at the table. Creating more interesting experiences that we can’t have through other mediums/forms of entertainment.
And we need to tell more people about it. Over the past year, I have made it a mission of mine to bring board games to every social function I attend. Regardless of the setting. Going home for the holidays? Bring games. Weekend away with he family? Bring games. Going to a wedding? Put a travel game like Gloom in your pocket! While I may have gotten a weird look bringing games all over the place. Whenever we had a free hour or so where I brought out a game, the result was always positive. Family who has never played a game more complicated the Bananagrams are suddenly flocking to King of Tokyo. Friends who never ventured past collectible card games (CCGs) like Magic: The Gathering is cheering after scenarios in Mansions of Madness.
So ignore the weird looks and snide remarks. Bring your games! Read your rulebooks in public! And for fuck’s sake start telling people about games!
We want games to do more
We’ve seen how far tabletop games have come since the early days of Milton Bradley. I said as much 20 lines up. But there is so much more our games can do. Some of the reason Kickstarter has launched so many indie games is because we have so many garage/bedroom designers trying to reinvent what games do. And that excites the hell out of us. It’s the whole cult of the new premise. We want to see what’s new, and we want to see what more there is.
And for the most part, the industry has listened and followed suit. We see Fantasy Flight Games publishing board games with a full range of miniatures. CMON Games shipping batches of stand-alone miniature games. And ZMAN games building an empire of progressive storytelling Legacy games fueled by the Pandemic series. We are getting games that pair with phone apps, games that simulate escape rooms, timed dexterity games, games that use phones instead of player pieces! We have so many new ingenious mechanics coming out every day, and the community is devouring it.
Board games are changing…again
Despite all of the changes we have seen since the 80’s and early 90’s (see above) board games are still evolving. New mechanics, like deck building, are being changed in unexpected ways. Giving us games like Clank! which are inspiring designers to do more with their games.
We saw the creation of Legacy Games starting with Risk Legacy in 2011. Marking the first time we’ve had a board game that goes through permanent changes as we play it. An idea that has now been finding its way into all manner of cooperative and competitive games. Allowing designers to bring real narrative and storytelling into their games. Changing the way we can learn how to play and make decisions.
Publishers are taking steps to integrate common technology into their games. Using the smartphones we all carry into additional peripherals for their games. We have apps for games like Mansions of Madness which eliminate the need for a game master (GM). Replacing them with basic automation for preset scenarios and interactive digital puzzles. I don’t know if there was or ever will be a golden age of board games, but we may be seeing it now.
Another year ahead
As I look into the next year to come for me and The Screaming Brain, I only get more excited. I am getting more involved in my local gaming community, beginning to attend conventions on a more regular basis, and furthering the development of our own board game “The Exorcism at the House of Monkton Falls”. I am finding new ways to embrace this amazing hobby of ours, and am happily getting pulled further and further into it.
So as I continue this journey, let me hear from you! I may be getting a lot out of this adventure, but ultimately it’s because I want you to get out there and play games. Play more games, play better games, play games more often, and with everyone you know! So let me know. What do you want to know, what do you want me to investigate, and who do you want me to talk to?
But anyway. Thanks for reading and staying with me this year. And seriously, just fucking play games!