Monday, 25 June 2007

"...And we don't care about the young folks..."


A couple of weeks back, some of you might have seen the news that Wizards of the Coast is soon to launch a new hobby gaming site with a much broader scope in terms of inclusiveness- RPGs, CCGs and video games are not the pariahs they seem to be on other sites- and a more pronounced emphasis on MySpace-style social networking. It’s called Gleemax.com, which is a pretty terrible name from a linguistic perspective but it is a direct reference to a MAGIC: THE GATHERING in-joke. I took at look at the site, which isn’t nearly fully functional yet, and what I saw was a modern site not unlike most video game sites and other web destinations geared toward teenagers and young adults. Of course, it wasn’t long before members of the online board gaming community lined up to take shots at how “juvenile” it looked, how confusing the layout was, and how it hurt their eyes to look at it. Oh, my aching bunions. Never have I seen a bunch of fucking cranks whine like that outside of a front-porch bitching session at the nursing home. God forbid someone court younger gamers and get someone other than more 45 year old man-children into the hobby.

But that’s just part of a series of events and circumstances that made me realize something about board gaming I had been thinking about yet I hadn’t really pinpointed a position on. Enter a recent discussion I read regarding one of the larger gaming conventions in the US. Apparently there’s some kind of age limit to get into thing, just like a bar or a strip club- yet I doubt very seriously there’s any shortage of childrens’ games being played at any given moment during the proceedings. That just doesn’t make any sense to exclude children and young people given the impetus on game “evangelization” and the supposed sense of community that allegedly exists out there in the gaming world. Of course, the comments I read were full of the usual “I don’t want a bunch of whippersnappers running around while I’m trying to figure out the optimal move in my AGE OF STEAM game” statements while several parents made entirely reasonable cases for the right to bring their families to the event. Then, with recent events involving Mr. Skeletor’s banning from The Leading Board Game Site I witnessed any number of detractors turn in the usual “grow up”/ “go back to high school”/ “teenage boys” slanders in various attempts to discredit Mr. Skeletor and the other excellent writers we have here at Fortress: Ameritrash. If there’s anything board gaming needs righ tnow it’s mischief, a youthful sense of irreverence, and a general overturning of the stagnation and mediocrity that has infested everything from game design to forum posts. Add to all this the realization I came to at a recent gaming event here in Atlanta where I was shocked that I was the youngest person in attendence at 31 years old. I’ve come to understand that board gaming is populated chiefly by a bunch of tired-ass, worn down, crusty old bastards who’d just as soon never see a kid get into the hobby just to keep any sense of youthfulness or genuinely childlike enthusiasm from tampering with this supposed atmosphere of “sophistication” and “elegance” that board gamers are expected to promote. Up your enema, oldster.

Now, I’m not one of those Chicken Little types that’s predicting that the hobby game industry is somehow going to collapse and disappear, but I will say that younger gamers are becoming very scarce despite the best efforts of Spielfriek parents to indoctrinate their kids with Haba games and the occasional attempt at HEY THAT’S MY FISH. I see less and less kids interested in hobby gaming with every passing year and when I recall being 13 years old myself and meeting with other friends around that age to run a role playing game or play AXIS AND ALLIES I can’t help but think that eventually a generation will come around where all “traditional” hobby gaming is transferred to electronic formats. The writing is on the wall- young people that used to get into gaming through DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS are now getting into it through MMORPGs and the kids that would have dug board games are whiling away their gaming childhood with RTS games and Xbox Live. Not that there’s anything wrong with video games at all, I’ve been playing them since the Atari 2600- but it’s very clear that the board and hobby gaming demographic has crept up over the years and it’s very unfortunate that most publishers and designers seem either completely unaware of that fact or just don’t care to court younger, teenage to young adult audiences. These are the gamers and consumers of the future, and if they aren’t cultivated then our already very marginal hobby will be even more marginalized in future generations.

I think that this is one of the places where the phoenix-like rebirth of Ameritrash games and the attendant evolution of hybrid games incorporating the virtues of European design stand to make the biggest difference on the hobby both now and in the future. The themes of most Eurogames are of little to no appeal to kids who are growing up with HALO and other video games that generally feature very conflict-heavy, some would say “violent” themes and images and although there’s definitely a large number of PC games and strategy titles that feature civilization building, civic planning, and the like it’s clear that the big, blockbuster games that most young people are interested are generally very immediate, action-oriented, and feature fantasy or escapist themes of some description. If we look at games like AGE OF STEAM (the classic cranky old man game), PUERTO RICO, and even SETTLERS it isn’t hard to see how the thematic appeal of these games skews older- even in their graphic presentation, which favors muted colors and a distinctly “old fashioned” atmosphere. But compare that to any given Fantasy Flight title- bright colors, modern typography, best-in-business genre artwork, and “blockbuster” production values. It’s not hard to imagine that an 18 year old looking to spend their first paycheck would be much more likely to pick up ARKHAM HORROR than NOTRE DAME.

At my store, I did have a number of younger clients but of course the big draw for them was collectible card games- but I did have an alarming number of kids who would spend their parents’ disposable income with reckless abandon on Games Workshop products. Some of the kids tried out and kind of enjoyed some of the simpler board games but I never saw an under-20 spending a single dollar on a board game purchase of any description. They’d come in and spend $100 or more on the latest VERSUS or MAGIC: THE GATHERING set but not a dime on any of the supposed “gateway” games or even the more youth-friendly AT titles for that matter. Why? Because CCGs and other collectible games are made accessible and appealing to them. They’re marketed directly toward a younger audience with more modern methods that are youthful and for lack of a better term, much hipper than anything I’ve ever seen a board game publisher pull off. The result, of course, is that CCGs and other collectible games routinely outsell board games and recent sales figures in the industry even show that CCGs are doing better now than they have in years. On the other hand, board games are made accessible and appealing primarily to the sort of men who used to (or still do, for that matter) spend inordinate amounts of time building model railroads or building ships-in-a-bottle.

So the usual trope is that video games are killing the business. It’s true that the RPG sector has taken nothing short of a life-threatening beating over the past couple of years but other product sectors are showing growth. The whole argument that I’ve heard game store owners grouse over about video games is pretty much the same thing as hearing Ratt and Winger lament over how Nirvana ended their careers- it’s not that somehow this new music (which wasn’t even really anything new) somehow lured people away from the hair bands, it’s that the new music was more youthful and in tune with the culture and zeitgeist of young people of the time. In short- it was more relevant. Board games, and hobby games in general, have to remain relevant and timely with someone other than middle-aged men if they’re going to survive in a long term situation. As it stands now, I feel that there’s a lot of disregard, disdain, and just plain hostility going on in the board gaming community regarding anything that appears youthful or vigorous. I look at message boards and see these anti-youth comments and all I see is bitter old men who use board gaming as a way to escape the responsibilities and demands of their families, including their own children.

So I say let the old men run off to play with other old men avoiding having to interact with their wives. Let the geriatric geezers have their “21 and up”game conventions so they can engage themselves on the deepest possible level over choo-choo train games and LOOPIN’ LOUIE. The kids are always welcome at my table, in my store, and at my convention. And if they can’t grasp TWILIGHT IMPERIUM yet then we can at least get them started on NEXUS OPS and if that fails the basic rules of HEROSCAPE should be on their level. It’s great that Gleemax is gunning for a younger audience and it really shows that Wizards of the Coast, unlike a company such as Rio Grande Games, understands that younger audiences are where the long-term future of the hobby lies and that it is absolutely critical that they be courted and their gaming lives be nourished if the hobby is to stay out of the old folks home, where it will inevitably expire in relative obscurity, lying in a puddle of its own urine while bellowing “wood for sheep” or calling for the Governor.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

There ARE some of us, im a 16 year old gamer, and i meet with friends every sunday to play Twilight imperium or WoD roleplays and the like.

Ken B. said...

Our only hope is that fact that most of us try to game with our children. Even if gamers don't tolerate other people's children well, we go out of our way to find things that "might work with the kids."

I know I do, and still do...my mother-in-law found a copy of Yahtzee Jr. at the thrift store last week, so I played it with my three-year old and six-year old. It's not a great game but it was one the three-year old could handle and the theme (Toy Story) was good enough for the six-year old to chuck some dice for the five or ten minutes or whatever it took.

That might be our best hope; that we're raising a generation of gamers who will keep with it for sentimental reasons...you know, like how you have a soft spot for Chess because you played it with your father, or Uno because you played it with a favorite aunt, something like that.

But you're right--boardgamers have taking a hobby largely thought of by the outside world as one primarilly belonging to children and turned it into a "Grouches Only" club. I'm guilty of it too--we end up so passionate about it that we get angry and pissed off about SOMETHING related to gaming, when honestly, it's supposed to be all about fun.


Also, your remarks about CCG marketing is spot on. I thumb through Scrye and the CCG ads are vibrant, colorful, and appealing to the eye. The ad for Caylus shows a grouchy old king holding a scepter with a ton shrouded by fog in the background. Why would a child or teenager even find such ads appealing?

I know, I know...Caylus is for "grown ups". Meanwhile Yu-Gi-Oh steals all the kids with their blazin' colorful ads, and the boardgaming hobby itself goes to the grave with us as we clutch our copies of some Rio Grande offering with a dour looking Mediterranean trader on it.

neonpeon said...

I think every 5 year old should be indoctrinated into gaming, and life, by playing a few rounds of Dungeonquest. "See, no matter what you do, you're pretty much fucked."

No teenagers in your store are interested in any Fantasy Flight games? I would think between Doom, Fury of Dracula, Arkham Horror and (World of) Warcraft you'd make some sales based on the boxes alone.

mtlawson said...

Well, I game with my kids. I can see where people want to have their "get away from the kids" fun, but given how things are at this stage in life, if I can't bring the kids (8, 6 and almost 4)to a gaming con, I'm not going.

To me, it'd be like not being able to work a model railroad with your kids, because a good part of the fun is actually doing it with the kids. I shake my head at the people who are so obsessed at some things -gardening, camping, model railroads or boardgaming/RPGs- that they decide they don't want kids involved. If I only thought of gardening as "that stuff that the mean old lady up the street did when she wasn't yelling at us to stay out of her yard", I'd probably not be interested in it. However, my mom had me help out with gardening when I was little, and so it grew on me.

Now, I understand that some companies market their wares specifically toward adults. Look at AH; it was definitely not geared specifically toward kids. Rio Grande is oriented in the same direction as an adult alternative to the standard family game fare.
However, other game companies (FFG, the Hasbro AH, and SJG in particular) have games that not only can be marketed toward preteens and teens, but should be. Getting teenagers to play Puerto Rico is one thing, but getting teenagers to play Runebound or Descent is quite another.

Michael Barnes said...

No teenagers in your store are interested in any Fantasy Flight games? I would think between Doom, Fury of Dracula, Arkham Horror and (World of) Warcraft you'd make some sales based on the boxes alone.

Well, yeah, after I showed them the games...they had no idea they even existed before I introduced them because there's no marketing, no exposure in avenues where they can be informed that these games are even out there. That's a huge problem in general, that there just isn't adequate exposure for games to the people who'd probably want to play them.

Matt brought up an interesting counterpoint, that AH games weren't marketed to young people...that's _kind_ of true, but remember too that during AH's heyday the hobby gaming demographic was generally considered more inclusive and spanned from teenage to adult in a more comprehensive way. I knew plenty of kids in the 80s that really liked CIVILIZATION, RAIL BARON, and some of the other more non-grognardy fare they put out. Sure, PANZERBLITZ and all that were always geared more to serious (read: older) military enthusiasts.

I don't think that the marketing of games as an adult, "grown up" type of entertainment is necessarily wrong or bad, by the way. But I do think that there are plenty of games out there that would appeal to young adults and even pre-teens given proper exposure and directed marketing. Look at the relative success of HEROSCAPE- exposure, marketing, accessible and appealing to kids...and widely available even though it has a distinctly hobby game pedigree.

I think it's pretty reprehensible that there's this automatic equation in the board gaming community that making things appear youth-oriented or modern is the equivalent of "dumbing down"...I think that really undercuts the fact that there's plenty of very intelligent, smart kids out there that would likely get a lot out of gaming without the condescending judgement of the pre-Depends crowd.

Shellhead said...

Two of my favorite hobbies are going through similar times right now... comic books have also been taken away from the kids by grumpy older fans... in this case, fans obsessed with "mature" themes like titties and gore. Modern comics also suffer from a bizarre sense of "realism" that frowns upon colorful costumes but readily accepts brutal deaths followed by frequent resurrections.

So mainstream comics are circling the drain. They abandoned the young fans who couldn't spend a lot and focused on the adult fans with cash, resulting in a 90% drop in sales over the last two decades. There may be a comparable shift in the gaming industry, but they probably have a better chance of recovering, because they don't have a Diamond-type company with a deathgrip on distribution the way the comics do.

Michael Barnes said...

The thing about adult cash is, I think, a little suspect...when kids spend money, they're almost always spending their parents' money anyway. Sure, kids don't place $200 orders to Thought Hammer but I think the idea that their money is somehow "different" then when adults spend on themselves is very nearly crazy talk.

Good point about comics, Shell...and you're right. We're still dealing with the repercussions of 1986 (the greatest year in comics) and how folks like Alan Moore and Frank Miller raised the bar for maturity and "sophistication" so high that a lot of folks somehow forgot that comics could be fun and that the roots are, and always will be, in costumed heroes and a youthful exuberance. I don't think Moore ever forgot that, even if now he's a pretty grumpy old man. With a gigantic beard.

mtlawson said...

Well, I got introduced to Rail Baron through my Geometry teacher in high school, who ran the "Rail Baron Club".

However, if you looked at the AH lit at the time, they all talked up the "bright" and "clever" and "thoughtful" aspect of their games. I believe that if you sent away for a copy of their catalog, you got the chance to "add the name of a bright friend" to send a copy to the friend as well. AH wasn't strictly marketing toward teenagers, but all the "smart" references were targeted toward the bright kids.

--Mike L.

Michael Barnes said...

The best was the AH bumper stickers you could order:

"Follow me- I play SQUAD LEADER!"
"Candy is Dandy but Avalon Hill Games Won't Rot Your Teeth"

I'm not making those up.

I think marketing to bright kids is a great idea...particularly since there isn't anything out there that specifically addresses them or their needs. When I talk about marketing games to kids, I'm sure 99% of the usual online board game folks would immediately think of some bizarre, corporate conceived "Poochie" scheme...that's not what I'm talking about at all.

We always had game days in my gifted classes throughout school...that's where I got into DIPLOMACY, D&D, and some of the AH stuff.

Jack Hill said...

I go to cons with and without kids present. I MOSTLY agree with you, and the cons that forbids kids has slowly drifted to allow teens who play games.

Where I've seen problems is with the 0-10 kids. When they've been left in the gameroom to be group babysat by the gamers.

The age rules are likely there to prevent some of the upsetting situations I've seen. Same thing you get with children being dropped off for hours at a time at a game store or comic shop.

The age cap should come down to encourage the teens who do game....
also...which con are you complaining about?

Michael Barnes said...

Well, it's not really a complaint because I ain't going anyway...but it's the Leading Board Game Site.Con in Texas. The complaint is more about the general exclusion of kids in the hobby than anything else.

Where I've seen problems is with the 0-10 kids. When they've been left in the gameroom to be group babysat by the gamers.

Like most child behavior issues, the problem probably with the parents more than anything else...of course, we don't live in a perfect world where sensible parents who realize they won't be able to parent during an event don't bring their children, and I definitely agree that can be a problem.

Dan Corban said...

I don't care about the young folks.

I am 31. I have a reasonable number of people my age to game with. I couldn't care less if some teenybopper and his copy of Jungle Speed gets turned away.

If the "industry" does die off, so what? I have plenty of games to last me the rest of my gaming life (although I do continue to buy more).

Just like the geezers who cling on to their Winger and Led Zepplin albums, no one can ever take away my Puerto Rico and El Grande.

mtlawson said...

Yes, but marketing toward smart kids can really backfire. Look at all the "My kid can beat up your Honor Student" bumper stickers out there.

I'm actually rather happy that the kids will be able to go to a middle school (grades 6-8) where they have a real honest-to-god game club run by one of the teachers. Yeah, a lot of it is CCG based, but for an hour or two on a weekday afternoon, I bet there are a bunch of games that can get played.

--Mike L.

mtlawson said...

Hey, I like 80's hair metal, but even I don't equate Winger with Led Zeppelin.

As for why care, well if there isn't an influx of new blood into the market every so often, then there won't be a desire to innovate so much. If the people who buy the same old games do so because they like things the way they are, then there won't be anyone out there to say, "You know, I've seen this all before. Show me something new for a change."

--Mike L.

J de said...

Kids get drawn in by their peers, through CCGs or Warhammer, or by adult enthusiasts, through clubs. Teachers and youth club leaders are important there. Our club had a very gifted generation of youngsters through one teacher, who mostly did RPGs. They then drifted into CCGs and later LRPG and there they faded from view.

I think the marketing is important for the peer group, but that (as I argue above) is only half the story.

Getting in kids through their parents is only just starting, but I'm not sure that's going to generate a whole lot of young players in the next decade or so.

Spiel in Essen provides a Kindergarten for young kids and offers many games for a young audience, but then the German market is mostly on family games. I wonder if the demographics and market development are different there from the US.

I can see why some Cons would prefer not to have children around. You either need to provide for them (costly) or they limit the range of games and trade you can show, as parents have a different toleration level for sex and violence when their kids are around. It's a choice. You could argue that it is a mistake in the long run.

Mike said...

I play games with teenagers on a regular basis and I would have no problem playing some games with them at an all-day con provided they are there with a guardian. Kids under 10, however, tend to get annoying fairly quickly.

A happy medium might be to let kids attend until 8 PM. Why? Because letting kids come to game conventions raises some issues as evening comes around:

1) If I want to swear because I have to fight Cthulhu by myself then I'm gonna swear. I don't want to deal with so-and-so's mom telling me not to use that language around their kid.

2) If I want to drink I'm gonna drink. If that interferes with the proper Mormon upbringing you're trying to give your kids than that's too fucking bad. (See #1)

So to sum up: kids are OK and necessary to the hobby but some lines have to be drawn.

Michael Barnes said...

I get it- nobody wants bratty, misbehaved kids around. It's like going to the movies...don't bring a baby into a loud-ass R-rated movie. But it's not even so much about getting very young kids into events and into gaming...it's more about getting kids that are, you know, 14-18 or so involved.

There's practically no appeal whatsoever for teenagers and young adults to get into the hobby or participate in the community. I mean come on, take a look at any game event and imagine being a teenager...would _you_ want to hang out in a room full of sweaty, overweight old men hunched over games depicting trains, penguins, and the like? I'd probably write them off as a bunch of pedophiles if I didn't know any better going into it.

BTW- Anonymous- glad you're here, buddy...sounds like you guys have a good thing going!

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Perhaps the Leading Boardgame site could create a special forum for teenagers, under 20s say, to congregate and find out about games (specialist forums seem to be all the rage at the moment). I'm sure there would be plenty of adults able to monitor, facilitate, answer questions, promote, advise, organise.

Michael Barnes said...

It would definitely be a positive step, I think, but the problem seems to be ingrained in the boardgaming culture itself...witness Dan Corban's statement here. Like Shell said, the hobby is overrun with the "Grumpy old man" sort of fans.

RobertB said...

Our local game club is kind of light on teenagers, but we're pretty well represented by 20-somethings.

>>>
There's practically no appeal whatsoever for teenagers and young adults to get into the hobby or participate in the community. I mean come on, take a look at any game event and imagine being a teenager...would _you_ want to hang out in a room full of sweaty, overweight old men hunched over games depicting trains, penguins, and the like? I'd probably write them off as a bunch of pedophiles if I didn't know any better going into it.
>>>

I'm not sure what your point is here. Your typical boardgame crowd not buffed enough for your taste? Do we put the good lookin' gamers in the front and the trolls in the back room with the hex-and-counter wargame guys? "Sorry, your BMI is too high to play TI3, hit the fuckin' street Porky."

The boardgaming crowd is what it is. Being a fat old game-playing fart myself, I might decide to lose a few pounds for my health, or to fit in my favorite shirt. But 'Make myself look better so I can rope more teenagers into _Railroad Tycoon_' is pretty damn far down the list.

New gamers will either be attracted to the notion of the games and put up with the bad parts of dealing with the people (as do we ALL), or they won't. Yeah, if it was hot babes playing instead of crusty old geezers you might get a few more heads in the door, but in the long run it's either something you like or something you don't.

J de said...

Indeed, losing weight is your choice, and I'm not always playing in a suit & tie, but a bit of personal hygiene is a minimum one could ask.

I vividly recall a game where one guy had tied a knot in his underpants hanging out over his trousers so he could pull them up. The spooky thing was that he was giggling all the time...
like he knew something we didn't...

J de said...

on the other hand, playing to the youngsters tune might mean 'dumbing down' a bit. You can't go ASL on them from the word go.

Of course this isn't so much a problem for RPG, and kids are willing to invest quite some time into learning a computer game or a CCG, but the return on investment is in peer approval.

And maybe playing games with more or less grumpy, more or less old men just doesn't cut it for street cred.

Michael Barnes said...

Indeed, losing weight is your choice, and I'm not always playing in a suit & tie, but a bit of personal hygiene is a minimum one could ask.

It's not about being overweight or looking good, RobertB...it's about having enough dignity and taste to NOT walk out the door looking like a nasty, unwashed creep like many gamers are wont to do.

It _does_ matter that so many gamers have poor hygiene, let alone poor social skills- it's what keeps a lot of people (and not just young people) away from gaming. I've seen people walk in on gaming events at public places and kind of grimace at the sight of the sorts of people there.

Since JDe gave his best "nasty gamer" story, I'll give mine. One time in the store, we had this guy who came in from time to time with his friend who was pretty much a regular. Anyway, this guy was sick. I mean, like deathly sick. I thought he might have had Ebola or something. Why he decided it was a good idea to go out in public, I'll never know. So while his buddy went off to play games, sick guy put his head down on a table (which did, in fact, leave a visible grease stain). Here's the kicker. The guy apparently could not keep his pants pulled up, so the whole time he had his head down his ENTIRE ASS was showing. Not just the usual "plumber's crack" you've seen a hundred times at the game store, but his ENTIRE ASS. So I've got 50 people in my store and this guy showing more man-ass than I've ever seen in my entire life. People start making loud comments. He's completely oblivious. Eventually, I had to go over and tell him to either get it together or get out. The "Manass Incident" prompted me to institute strict hygiene laws in the store.

But it still didn't stop these gamers who literally smelled like death from coming in.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say I fucking hate Age of Steam?

That felt good.

In any case, if the creepy oversensitive types who inhabit my local 'gaming club' are any indication, we're doomed. I remember playing games as a teenager and shouting, arguing, and having fun doing it. Who suggested that because we've switched from civilization to Caylus that we can't do the same.

It's not the games that hurt the hobby, it's the people who play them.

RobertB said...

Granted, I might not always wear my sunday best, but it and I are usualy clean.

I used to play organized Magic, and you have the same problem there. 9 out of 10, 19 out of 20 of the players, no problem. But there's always that one who's smart enough to play the latest combo deck but hasn't figured out how soap and water work. But I used to bowl in leagues and you had your share of man-ass and reeking idiots who thought "bottom of the hamper == clean" there too.

There's always going to be a geek factor to boardgaming - I'm not sure if there's enough lipstick out there to make this particular pig cool. We'll just have to deal with it and keep trying to make it fun, the trolls, man-ass, and stinkers notwithstanding. :)

ubarose said...

I'd like to hear more from anonymous. Compared to his or her opinions on the appeal or marketing of boardgames to teens, or whether or not teens want to attend cons, all the old dudes opinions are worth spit.

I think as gamers age and have kids of their own, I've seen more family friendly game events. Both the Games Clubs of MD and the Game Clubs of PA have family events. The WBC is pretty family friendly. They have youth tournaments, and a room where kids and families can play. Although last year at WBC I did find an 8 year old asleep under a table at 3 am with her head in a bag of Doritos. Other than that, the parents were responsible and the presence of kids and teens had no impact on my experience at WBC.

Also, in my personal experience, I don't see Euros holding much appeal for young players. The little ones that I play with prefer the narrative of AT adventure games. I don't see teens paying their hard earned Dunkin' Dounuts pay check to buy a game about selling coffee.

Gary Sax said...

So is the current state of the wargaming population (old, male, using a shitty unchanging and unreadable website) a model for the future of the Euro movement without youth?

Thaadd said...

One of the best bits of marketing I have ever seen, was some home produced 'glycerin' soap, sold in the local game shop here.

D20 dice, d8's, d12s...in the middle of a bar of see through, lightly scented soap. Work for that die, gamerboy!

In terms of age, and exposure - I never heard of a board game club at any of the half dozen schools I ended up at. I did however, experience Leading CCG club. I quit when they irritated me too much.
I grew up playing games with my mom. I played games with my friends. I have still yet to sit down in a store and play with strange gamers. Conventions, yes - my first Convention when I was 16, I ended up killing most of the evening getting my ass handed to me as France in my first game of Diplomacy.

I am often impressed by the kids I interact with's ability to grasp complex details. I don't think many of them want to sit down and read a 45 page rulebook, however. I think scalable complexity games would be optimal for 'sliding scale' age introduction of heavily themed games. Sort of like when us old folks started RPGing with the base games, and the companies kept rolling out additional character classes, specializations, and playing races. Concept hook, followup...

Last rambling thought (sorry, been a long day!) video games. I have never owned a console game. I hated computer games for the most part until I discovered social ones (Ye Olde MMO). Yes, the pacing is faster in most electronic games than board games. I think kids tend to hate the ages it takes to sit through alot of complex board games turns. If we accept the fact that ADD is an evolutionary change, and design appropriately, will it help things? Perhaps.

bill abner said...

This touches on what we were talking about Michael, and I agree with you. So much of this is marketing.

Running a fairly high traffic video/PC game website that also dabbles in boardgame content, I can say without question that a lot of "kids" that play on the Xbox 360 every day of their lives have no idea that World of WarCraft even HAS a board conversion. No clue. And if they do know, they've never seen it anywhere other than Blizzard's website saying "Oh yeah, we have one of these, too."

They'll play the latest Cthulhu game on the 360 (Alone in the Dark 3 looks great, btw) but ask them about Arkham Horror and you'll get a blank stare in return.

When you SHOW them the games...the light goes on. I threw together a review of Fury of Dracula and received several emails from gamers who were stunned that games like that even existed.

You may assume every gamer knows about boardgames or BGG -- but they don't. Mention boardgames to a 17 year old WoW player and he conjurs up images of being forced to sit around the table on family game night playing Monopoly.

So...do I do that or join my buddies online and go on a 40 man WoW raid?

Gamers don't make it easy to enter this "members only" world, though. I live right outside of Columbus and I have no desire, at all, to go to Origins. I love games -- I work in the gaming industry, but I *hate* gamer culture. Hate it. I've been to Origins several times, and used to go to Capcon at the OSU campus every year. No more.

Games can be as fun as the people you play them with and playing a game, even a great game, with a bunch of anti-social, pear-shaped know-it-alls--I'd rather stay home.

I have a regular gaming group, most of them old college buddies and spouses and that's enough for me. We play everything from Railroad Tycoon to Marvel Heroes, but if I *didn't* have that, I'd be leery going into a new gaming haven to play with random people. I don't have the patience for that anymore.

That said, every time I show games to kids -- they have a good time and are curious as to:

A: Where I got the games
B: What else is out there

Keeping kids, especially teens, out of a gaming convention is absolutely hysterical.

Ken B. said...

It isn't just kids...last week, one of the girls that games with us at lunch asked, "WHERE do you get all these games?" after we'd busted out yet another game she hadn't heard of.

People just. Don't. Know.

Citadel said...

I'd love to see Fantasy Flight get themselves in on some this Xbox Live Arcade thing like Catan did. I think they could be very popular. Their games are perfect for it. Think of Arkham Horror all that great artwork. It is also the perfect game because it wouldn't be that affected by someone dropping out if the computer adjusted for it. I'm guessing it would cost a bundle to develop though.

I have spent a lot of money on Magic: the Gathering Online. I think a lot of people do want to play turn based strategy games online with human opponents. They are much better to relax with in an evening than FPS, RTS or MMORPG which are fairly stressful to play. Getting the money in to develop them will be a huge problem. But if you look at Magic: Online, it is not particularly high tech. The graphics and sound are very simple. You wonder how big a team you would need to bring a board game to the public. Klear who developed Reiner Knizia's Samurai were 4 people. Introversion who delevoped DEFCON were 3 people. Chris Sawyer did Rollercoaster Tycoon on his own I believe. It would be great to see some companies try to put out some more board game conversions.

Juniper said...

I wish all those strawmen out there would stop ruining boardgaming for the rest of us.

Mr Skeletor said...

But "kids", what are people referring too? Seems like most people are actually talking about teens.

Modern games do not have to be dumbed down to appeal to teens - teens can actually handle new rules easier than the old farts. CCGs rule wise are tougher than euro's and easily on par with most AT.

The trick is the marketing, and lets face it apart from WOTC boardgaming has none. FFG's video for Taunhauser looks absolutly awesome, and I'm sure most Xbox teens would think it looked ace, but the problem is who sees it? People who go to FFGs website. The video is simply preaching to the converted. Ditto with the adds up at BGG. Companies really need to start advertising in comic books or video game websites as well.

Juniper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juniper said...

There's a difference between marketing and advertising.

Joe Belanger said...

This is interesting. I just got a call about my game night. A new player asked me what was the minimum age for my game night. I told him around twelve years old. I explained it's an attention span/staying up late thing. To which, he completely understood.

There is nothing that evangelizes the hobby more than letting the young ones feel like they're allowed to play with the big boys. If you allow one of the little guys to have a great gaming experience, they'll be a convert for life. They'll feel like they're made it. They're in.

I remember playing Risk for the first time during my parents Trivial Pursuit night. My friend was teaching me the game. During a break in the Trivial Pursuit game, my dad's friend, Greg Lords, came over. Greg got down on the floor with us, next to the board we were setting up, and secretly told us that he wished he was playing Risk with us rather than Trivial Pursuit with the wives. Then he went over the finer points of Risk with us. In that instant, Greg Lords became Ben Kenobi to me.

Take them under your wing.

Muzza said...

I've never been heavily into the traditional comic book scene (ie DC, Marvel etc) but have recently become custodian of a friends collection. Mostly late 1980's to late 1990's stuff. It has been fun reading these things, not only for the escapist content but also seeing the old advertising campaigns (I work in advertising).

The style and content of ads changes over this period. Early on there are many ads for board games and RPGs (2nd edition AD&D with the red dragon on, misty my eyes where, oh yes!) as well as the early console games. The later comics are almost entirely PC games and consoles. I'm curious to see what today's advertising content is like.

Mind you comics may not be the voice-of-a-demographic that they were 20 years ago. I imagine that creating an online presence like WotC seem to be doing is the way forward. I haven't seen it yet but it sounds like a good move to me.

Mijjy said...

Surely someone in the industry must have paid attention to the demise of SPI??

No??

notbillysparkles said...

I think that Mikey (I bet dollars to donuts you fucking HATE being called that, LOL) hit the nail right on the head:


1) Not enough advertizing towards the 13 to 18 demographic.

2)Exclusionary attitude by "hardcore" game enthusiasts.

Regarding problem number one, I wonder how much of that has to do with the continuously skyrocketing cost of marketing. I mean, I am relatively certain that buying a page of advert in comic, mag, or even a commercial was a hell of a lot cheaper 20 years ago than it is today. Who doesn't remeber the cool commercials they had for boardgames 20 years ago, you know, the ones that would come on during Saturday morning cartoons? Is it any real surprise that commercials for BOARDGAMES don't exsit anymore concedering thwe ridiculous cost of airtime?

Long to short, the point I'm trying to make here is that there is no adverisisng geared to the younger generation because it's too fucking pricey in today's market. How many gaming companies can actually afford several million in markrting campaign?

Our best chance is to introduce gaming to a younger generation. I recently introduced one of my younger friends, a nineteen year old first person shooter junkie, to Space Hulk. His exact response, after our first game was:

"Holy shit! that was so fucking cool!... What year did you say this thing was made in?"

Billy Z.

P.S: Speaking of cons any news on whether anF:AT con is takig shape? BZ

alan polak said...

It's not just about getting them in it's about keeping them in. I worked for GW when the switch came whereby under 12's were no longer allowed to participate in in-store events. It was felt that they didn't possess the motor skills or maturity to participate. Plus there were issues with health and safety- glues,sprays etc. Despite the fact we had mercilessly promoted the Lord of the Rings stuff to them a few months ago. So now I had a bunch of under 12 Uruk Hai who I had put considerable effort into 'training' to _not_ grow up like the crusty old fuckers from my vets nights, all saying " well what do I do now?". So I ignored the edict from on-high and carried on developing the hobby. My hobby. It is absoultely accurate that without new blood there will be no new innovation as...well why bother? This seems to be okay with the Euro crowd who play endless variations of the same game anyway. I think that the word 'hobby' is significant as there are groups who meet once a whatever and play and couldn't give a fig about the industry, the AT movement, the future of the hobby, whatever. These groups are not interested in getting new gamers as it's all friends, or friends of. There was a theory back during my GW days that the regulars liked it like this as they all knew each other, knew what to expect from their opponent, and so had a good chance of winning. New gamer meant unpredictable opponent. These people did not like suprises and it showed when it started going wrong for them. It was always great having a new member of staff who ould push these old men's buttons with a bit of 'creative thinking'.

dude163 said...

Well said Michael!

MWChapel said...

I remember getting into gaming at a fairly young age. However I also remember it had little or nothing to do with my parents. At that time they were big into pinocle, rummy, spades, etc. They would have card night at least twice a week. They wouldn't even let us in the same room.

When I found gaming, it was with friends. At which point, I didn't even want to play games with older people. I related with my peers, and played the games that we wanted to play(D&D, Axis and Allies, etc). Barring the occasional game with family.

It's a generational thing. I don't feel the need to bring children into "my" fold, they will find their own fold easily enough in their own time.

I boardgame to socialize with my peers, and it has always been that way. It this fashion, it is an adult activity.

Play with your kids, I don't care, but don't expect me too.

gobbeg said...

Michael Barnes wrote in his article:

If there’s anything board gaming needs righ tnow it’s mischief, a youthful sense of irreverence, and a general overturning of the stagnation and mediocrity that has infested everything from game design to forum posts.

Couldn't agree more (although there's a difference between ‘mischief’ and posting shagging gifs and saying ‘fuck’ a lot).

The stagnation and mediocrity comment is spot on - how many more area control/tile laying games does the gaming hobby need? The stuff that's got the kids (from six to sixteen) excited in my neck of the woods is Heroscape, Risk 2210 and the ilk. It's visual, tactile and most importantly fun. And you get to roll a boatload of dice.

The experience I’ve had in involving gamers over about 12 is that for many of them the gaming experience is linking up with their peer group on the PC. They’re often dispersed in neighbourhoods that are too far apart for them to walk, and they’re not old enough to drive. Unless a parent is willing to go to the effort to bring them together to a store or someone’s house to boardgame, they default to the easiest way to get some gaming interaction which is on the web. In a way, geography and the social habits that develop from them are a bigger issue than whether or not conventions have an age limit (a damn stupid idea).

Other than boardgaming at home where it’s easy to get the pre-teen set involved, I usually throw some games in the back of the car whenever we go over to friends houses where they have kids. I still have to break the kids of the habit of disappearing to the basement to go online but a few table-pounding games of Loopin Louie is usually enough to get people warmed up. It’s not a gateway game to Heroscape, but it keeps them at the table while you get the terrain set up…

hughthehand said...

Weird...I agree with both Barnes AND Chapel at the same time.

Nice article Michael.

Ken B. said...

Chapel--no one expects you to play with their kids. I was coming at this from the marketing perspective...in the rush to make board gaming "grown up", marketeers and game-makers are forgetting about the future.

It's understandable--no one likes the stigma that boardgaming has to the unwashed masses as being the domain of children. So we try to flee that perception as often as we can--that's the first stumbling block to getting people to try boardgaming in the first place. You say "let's play a boardgame", they think you mean, "Let's sit around and play Dora Candyland".

That's just left Hasbro to target the kid's market with any sort of advertising, and all they have to offer are re-themed editions of the same tired kids' games...reinforcing that "games are forever for kids" image. Only Heroscape breaks that mold in terms of something that would have an "oh cool" factor for kids and still be accessible by adults.

Anyway...blah blah blah. Yeah, I have seen other kids at the local game shop causing trouble, and you wonder when the parents will step in and take charge, but they're too busy gaming. That's the caveat--you can bring your kids, but you'd better be willing and able to control them...that's your responsibility as a parent, not the responsibility of other gamers or whatever babysitting devices you've brought with you.

JoelCFC25 said...

It was hinted at in the article, but Gleemax sounds like a feminine care product, or possibly a prescription medication for some malady you wouldn't want a single living soul apart from your spouse to know about.

I'm heading to a family reunion in Wisconsin this week and hauling a bunch of games along--LOTR Confrontation, Bang!, Hammer of the Scots, Battle Line--in the hopes that either my cousins or their kids might be up for them. I don't feel duty-bound to "convert" anyone, but I just want to play a game or five.

Notice that I'm not bringing any wood-cube pushing exercises. I like and own a bunch of those games (there, I said it) but they certainly aren't going to get kids fired up--and remember, I'm just looking to get opponents, not evangelize.

Pat H said...

Leave the kids at home unless they have ample entertainment of their own to keep them busy. I have my own and the last thing I want to do is to watch kids getting bored stiff and restless because their folks are busy placing tiles and swapping cards. The kids need to be kept busy with what interests them.

It sucks for kids to hang around somewhere where no one cares about their time. Any one who brings a kid to a game, card, comic shop for hours without getting them something that is guaranteed to keep them quietly happy & busy is a complete idiot and is sherking their parental responsibilities to slake their hobby thirst.

I got into games because of my peers and advertising in comics and at the comic shops. Comics were everywhere in every store too at the time. Getting into comics that way led me to the specialty shops that were also carrying games. That's when I got into D&D and everything else that followed.

Don't worry so much about the kids but they do need to know this stuff is out there and more clever use of advertising on video game sites is definatley the way to do it.

If FFG placed an add for Starcraft on IGN or Gamespot as the release of Starcraft 2 looms - I'd bet my bottom dollar on a decent return.

Mike Z said...

I have a phobia when it comes to kids.

I worked at a Boy Scout camp over the course of several summers and had to sit through several hundred hours of "Youth Protection" training over those years.

Now, "Youth Protection" training is a bit misleading. About half of the material is more about "Adult Protection". Protection from being falsely accused.

Kids lie. Some kids like to get revenge. Kids know what to say to get an adult into trouble. The public believes anything that kids say.

Given the lunacy of the sex-crime laws in the US, the absolute last thing that I ever want to be accused of is pedophilia. I rather be accused of murder before pedophilia.

Will I game with kids? Sure. If I'm at the game store and a kid wants to join in a game that I'm playing, that's cool.

Will I seek to bring kids into the hobby? Hell no. If a pedophilia acussation ever came up, the first thing that the police would question would be my motives for attracting kids to gaming.

I like gaming, I want to see it grow and prosper. But I don't like it enough to ruin the rest of my life because some kid couldn't handle losing a game.

Mike Z

mtlawson said...

Hours? At a game store? Oh, if you mean playing at a game store, then that's a different story, but I can't see spending more than 1/2 - 3/4 hour at a single store. That includes talking with the staff.

When I go to a game store and drag the kids along, they initially protest but then they're sucked in. I spend about half the time with them as they check out the models, kid's games, or other items at the two stores I go to. They always get excited when they see games that they've played, and they're also pulling down new games and checking them out.

As for the need for kids to have to drive to get together, that has been the case since I was a kid (over 20 years ago). I used to have to ride my bike a mile or two to get to my friends' house to go play AD&D, and when we graduated into the MB Gamesmaster games we were all driving age anyway.

--Mike L.

Shellhead said...

My dad was a hardcore Acquire addict, and taught me how to play at age 5 so that he would always have another player handy. By age 7, I was capable of winning the occasional game. But at the family events on my dad's side, there was a definite segregation between adults and kids.

My grandmother (on my mom's side) had a great collection of family boardgames, which was great because there were so many of us grandkids at the family get-togethers. We played Clue, Pit, Aggravation, Sorry, and some Las Vegas gambling version of Monopoly. We played Battling Tops, Stratego, Battleship and Rock'em Sock'em Robots. But best of all, it wasn't always just the kids. The adults played boardgames with us, too sometimes. Randomness is great for leveling the playing field when there is an age difference of decades between players. And as a kid, playing with adults as an equal was a real treat.

Rliyen said...

My dad was a hardcore Acquire addict, and taught me how to play at age 5 so that he would always have another player handy. By age 7, I was capable of winning the occasional game. But at the family events on my dad's side, there was a definite segregation between adults and kids.

That's my dream, too. Teaching my son to play the cornucopia of board games now residing in my garage. That's why I got married and had a child, so I could have a fellow gamer to play with!

In all seriousness, I'm known at family get-togethers as the "cool uncle". Every get together (Thanksgiving, Christmas, what have you), without fail, I bring Star Wars Duels, Battleball, and Mission Command: Land. Most of the time, my nephews come up to me and say, "Hi, Uncle Scott. Did you bring the Star Wars game?"

I'm doing my part with propagating the gamer species by starting with my own blood. Here's hoping it works.

BagpipeDan said...

20, and I have converted several others my age.

PREACH IT, BROTHAS!

Michael Barnes said...

Wow, BPD...I had you pegged much older...seems like you had at least 40 years of crank in you! :-P

Pat H said...

BPD - I had you pegged as a curmudgeon as well!

See - all is well wit' da youts!

Nothing but a red herring.

Mr Skeletor said...

I thought Bagpipe Dan was the kid playing in that marching band that wizmom was raising funds for...

Bohemian said...

So WotC markets directly to the 20s and under, Rio Grande's made their money appealing to the fogey 30s and up, and Fantasy Flight snaps up their change from both sets. Sounds like a variegated industry to me, and one that's increasingly appealing outside the "mature" gamer-set (let me adjust my dentures) that's formed the heart of the board game resurgence. And, of course, your much despised Spiel des Jahres winners are selected primarily because of their cross age-group appeal. Now, it may take a while to get to the levels of our AH-wasted youth, and it may not be entirely successful, but I guarantee you that where there is money to be spent the industry will make a play for it.

I think your problem, Michael, is not with the industry, which seems to be adapting in exactly the way you propose, but with certain vocal members of a certain other board gaming site. But that's nothing new, is it?

the red phantom said...

My this is so silly! Another AT non-issue!

Gleemax is a great idea and it's going to be very popular and help the hobby prosper. I'm also obviously totally in favor of kids gaming *under the cortrect circumstances*, which goes under the heading of "place and time." I attended a gaming event not long ago where kids were screaming all over the place and not the offer of ten FFG coffin games would perusade me to go back.

But what's silly here is Mr. Barnes' insistance that his own brand of juvenile humor and immaturity-which we all love--is somehow needed by gamers at large. It's not. That's him, Weeks, and Big Banned Frank. Maybe he hasn't noticed, but FFG plays to a sizable portion of the younger market, and I don't always think that makes a good impact on their designs. I don't think you need to talk down or play to the youth market. Bad designs, even if they imitate video games or use their licenses, are still bad designs. It almost seems like Mr. Barnes is making an excuse for his gaming, cultural, and social preferences by advocating for the kids. But kids need the boardgaming influence from parents, schools, and friends, not just from companies like FFG with their licensed games. A sizable portion of BGG (not myself) would state unequivocally that the LAST thing you should do is expose a child to WoW the boardgame.

Michael Barnes said...

I guarantee you that where there is money to be spent the industry will make a play for it.

Would that were true...but something I've seen over and over again in this industry is a general sense of laziness and apathy- mostly among smaller companies, I'm not talking about Wizards for example- toward really going out and marketing to younger people. Take Fantasy Flight for example- someone mentioned it that if they put up a banner on somewhere like IGN advertising the Starcraft game or WORLD OF WARCRAFT they'd almost certainly make their money's worth on it despite increasd cost. I agree, and I think that among game companies there's kind of this defeatest, almost negative attitude toward promotion outside of setting up a booth at Origins and maybe throwing up an ad at BGG. Yes, it costs money to advertise. But you have to spend money to make money, and when you're selling a niche product that consumers have to seek out then any dollar you spend can only help in the long run.

Having been to GAMA trade shows, I'll tell you that a big problem I see in the business is a lack of professionalism and a lack of a sense that there is business inolved in the gaming hobby- so many people in it see working in it (even on a retail level) as a permanent vacation. You can really see the difference between a company like FFG, who does very expensive trade show booths and smaller publishers like Z-Man who pretty much just lay their current games out on a table and rely on a handshake to get noticed. The FFG booth is packed all day, and the Z-Man booth might have a couple of people stop by. Z-Man makes good games, and if they really promoted their titles (like FAIRY TALE in particular) they'd probably double their sales.

The thinking I see a lot is that you market to the hobby and no further. Which is a HUGE mistake since there's a very low ceiling on the amount of actual money out there in the hobby. Yet we see that when something "breaks out" of the hobby market (like SETTLERS or CARCASSONNE) that people _do_ recieve it well. And I believe that if games are advertised and marketed with young people in mind then a similar effect would happen. As it stands, a lot people in the hobby- both industry and consumer folks- are content for it to stay on a level with model trains and metal detection. I love gaming. I think more people would be into it if it were more accessible, and I think that when someone looks up SETTLERS on Google and winds up at BGG seeing the cranks and self-appointed pundits there then there's probably as many people who turn away as start an account.

I think your problem, Michael, is not with the industry, which seems to be adapting in exactly the way you propose, but with certain vocal members of a certain other board gaming site.

No, the problem is with the industry...and the fact that the industry _does_ look to places like BGG to get a feel for attitudes, trends, and opinions whether you choose to believe it or not. Look at the delay of TIDE OF IRON- do you think FFG would _dare_ to ship a game that might have had even a minor board warping problem, despite the cost of remanufacturing it, given the outcry and outrage that goes on at BGG any time someone releases a less-than 100% perfect production? No, because the online community and its opinions _do_ influence decisions. So when 15 or so cranks, all of whom are some of the more publically visible and vocal users on BGG post this stuff (and on Boardgamenews.com for that matter), then it is heard and people in the industry do pay attention to it. And when the consensus is that a site "hurts the eyes" with its youthful appeal then it's a problem.

Disregarding the youth market is one of the main reasons that the hobby industry is losing ground against video games...and throwing your hands up and saying "we lost" certainly isn't going to generate any new business or community involvement.

But what's silly here is Mr. Barnes' insistance that his own brand of juvenile humor and immaturity-which we all love--is somehow needed by gamers at large. It's not.

And then Red Phantom chimes in with exactly the sort of "I'm older and therefore wiser" comment I criticised in the article. Sorry, but my humour may be a lot of things but "juvenile" it's not- unless I want it to be. That's a classic tactic, to degrade someone's opinion by connecting it to youth or supposed immaturity.

Without youthfulness and irreverence, we'd never have innovations in music, film, or literature...and sometimes that irreverence is in the form of humour, sometimes it's iconoclasm, and sometimes it's just throwing out any sense of what the "done thing" is...it's why the Rolling Stones are great, it's why The Stooges are great, and it's why The Sex Pistols are great.

It almost seems like Mr. Barnes is making an excuse for his gaming, cultural, and social preferences by advocating for the kids.

You think I need an excuse?

I'll always stand up for the kids over some old geezers who'd be content just to kick young people out so they can really hunker down over a Zoch game with other old geezers.

It occured to me too that yeah, maybe this isn't an issue for a lot of you guys...but being involved in the industry and really giving a damn about other people in it, I DO care where it goes from here, and I'd really like to see it prosper and grow rather than join the chorus of bankrupted, failed game store owners carrying on about doom and gloom.

aristarco said...

I used to play bad old school American style boardgames, then I turnt my atention to RPG's, Magic and the like. They were more attractive, interesting, I don't know. Then I moved "ahead" to video games. And now, I'm back to board games, first euro-style, then more hybrid stuff.

You guys talk as if teenagers who play Yu-Gi-Oh now will never play a board game in their lifes. Like they are the future and we're loosing them somehow. Frankly, I have no clue what you're talking about. If they like gaming, they'll play games. They games they want to play. And I don't think we know what games they'll be playing in 5 years. Should all companies start doing the same thing (CCG's) because it's what teenagers play today?

BTW, about Mr. Skeletor writing in an "irreverent", "young" style... He's not so irreverent when talking about The-Coolest-Game-Publisher-Ever (Freaking Funny Games, of course) which, apparently, always gets everything right. Don't ever dare to make the slightest criticism to that company's games in front of the "irreverent" Mr. Skeletor. You'll see how the fanatism of the most snob eurosnoot pales in comparison. He makes very funny, sarcastic jokes, though.

(For the record, I'm 32 years old)

Mr Skeletor said...


BTW, about Mr. Skeletor writing in an "irreverent", "young" style... He's not so irreverent when talking about The-Coolest-Game-Publisher-Ever (Freaking Funny Games, of course) which, apparently, always gets everything right. Don't ever dare to make the slightest criticism to that company's games in front of the "irreverent" Mr. Skeletor. You'll see how the fanatism of the most snob eurosnoot pales in comparison. He makes very funny, sarcastic jokes, though.


Someone has a case of selective reading.
Of course every time I do criticize a FFG game people make up excuses as to why it doesn't count. "Beowulf isn't a REAL FFG game" etc etc.
Tell you what captain maturity, you tell me exactly which FFG games I am meant to pick on and I'll see what I can do. Name them.

RiotGrrl said...

This is way too late to this thread, and nobody will probably read it, but I feel compelled to post it anyway.

As a 20-year-old female gamer (video and board alike) from New York City, I can safely say that NOBODY I know in my age group knows of ANY of the games that you guys often discuss. Nobody.

I stumbled upon BGG when looking up stuff for Stratego, one of my favorite games when I was younger. Needless to say, I was amazed at the wealth of games that I had never even known existed. I had always loved board games, but as a child I thought it stopped at Risk and Axis and Allies and nothing else.

I've been slowly attempting to convert my friends to my hobby. They enjoy Apples to Apples. They enjoy Bohnanza, and Pit. I've bought Bang, Cash 'n Guns, and Jungle Speed for them. My boyfriend is more interested than I could ever hope - I've gotten Dungeon Twister and Memoir '44 for him.

No, we're not afraid of intimidating rules. No, we're not afraid of playtimes and the like.

I have to admit, that I'm afraid to go to conventions. I'm afraid to go to a board game meetup here. I've seen pictures, and I sure as hell think it's not pretty. Nobody my age there - why would I even remotely think of setting foot there?

And yeah, I've gotten requests to game with members of the hobby before, and frankly, it did feel a bit laced with pedophilia. I was only 17 at the time, and as a 5'1", 91 pound female, setting in a car with a strange man to go play games is not exactly my idea of a safe experiment.

I wish marketing would get a bit better for games. FFG could definitely work in this area - anybody that I show their games to immediately wants to jump in and play. Hell, AT in general could work in this area. The licensed stuff could go a LONG way. A much longer way than it has.

It's rather disappointing that the number of people my age playing board games is so low. Hopefully with the introduction of Carcassonne, Settlers, and Alhambra to 360's Live Arcade will change some things.

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