I was about to post something about the old AH gangsters game, but when I headed over to the Geek this morning I noticed way too many AT posts by people wanting to change, discontinue the use of, or simply stating their dislike for the term Ameritrash. So I am going to defend it a bit.
First, let me start of by saying that I do not agree with the whole Us vs. Them attitude that seems to have been so popular on BGG over the last few weeks. I know that a few individuals (AT and Euro based) managed to move what really were personality conflicts into the debate, stealing the thunder of Ameritrash for issues that were completely unrelated to games. Personal pissing matches spring up on internet forums all the time, and well I guess that's human nature, but I for one do not want anything that happened on BGG to stain what for me is a legitimate attitude toward games.
The attitude that all aspects of games, the length, the rules complexity, the mechanics implemented, the diplomatic meta-game; all of this are in and of themselves worthless when not coupled with and respectful of Fun. Games are entertainment, and when one aspect of a game's design interferes with that entertainment, they are a failure. This is as true for over reliance on conflict, as it is for over reliance on game mechanics.
Ameritrash was a group of guys saying "Hey, we know that the current trend in games stresses streamlined play over open interaction, but let's not forget about these other games who manage to provide great entertainment in the past." It was a questioning of the mantra of Euro games design that wrote off certain game mechanics, player elimination as an example, or forced game length under 120 minutes. A call for designers to include older styles of play in their design and not simply push out yet another tile laying game with an auction and area control scoring.
The simple truth is that Ameritrash games design is dead. It’s moment was in the past, and designing games that are 100% AT for the future is not viable. No one wants to buy Risk++. The point is that there were good aspects to these games and these aspects should not be forgotten in favor of the current hot trend in game sales. The future of game design has to get past the Euro style, no one wants to buy Caylus++ either, It too has become nearly as stale as Ameritrash was in the late 80's. We will all be better off if designers look back and select the better elements of both Euro and AT, think of new ways to mingle them and produce games that are innovative.
This is what the original intent of the Ameritrash label was. It is time that we get back to that, and over the notion that AT all about returning to the past or pissing off Eurogamers. We are gamers who love games, and have concerns about the current direction of game development.
So the term Ameritrash is not about attitude, it is about respecting where game design has come from, where it is now and where it needs to head in the future.