Thursday, 28 June 2007

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

OK, so in my last rant here I made the case for getting the word out to the kids and promoting board gaming to a video game-oriented culture. So I'm going to do exactly that.

I'm going to be writing a weekly column at Yes, as in "Nintendo cheat codes" Gameshark, and yes, the site is owned by Mad Catz who also makes many fine console gaming peripherals.

So here it is, a place where I can not only promote board gaming to exactly the kind of demographic I was advocating, but it's also an opportunity to steer new gamers to the Truth, Light, and Salvation that Ameritrash gaming has to offer. And of course, I'll also be directing them to the better Eurogames as well.

There'll be a new column up every Thursday- bear in mind the focus on the column is to get new gamers so don't expect much "hardcore" gamer lingo or our usual raft of in-jokes. I'm writing these with the newbie in mind so maybe we can round up some new hobbyists.

The column's called "Cracked LCD" and they even did up some fancy artwork for it...I'm pretty sure you can find it on the front page.

That's all...go click on it a bunch so I'll look good!


Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Just so your don't fall foul of the law and few hundred thousand parents, make sure you point them across to that leading boardgame site instead of here :-)

Pat H said...

So I guess no jokes about smoking crack on LSD would be appropriate?

mtlawson said...

The real question is whether Mark E. Smith would let you use his likeness somewhere in the column, Michael.

--Mike L.

Ken B. said...

I suggest you run Skeletor's "Too Hot for TV" avatar as your intro piece.

Ryan Walberg said...

It was a great read until you made the common error "you've got another thing coming". That should be "you've got another think coming". -2 VP.

BrotherJ said...

It was an excellent intro article. You actually seem like a descent guy in that piece. Must be in the editing. :-)

bill abner said...

We're thrilled to have Michael on board doing this weekly write up. My hope is that we can expose our readers to a different type of gaming and I can think of no one better qualified to do that.

Also, while the column is slanted toward the "new" gamer, he's also going to do reviews inside the column, as well. He's already submitted a 1,600 word review of Tide of Iron, which is a great read for the newbie and hardcore alike.

It should be every Thursday but might get moved to Wednesday, depending on a few other content factors.

Ken B. said...

Actually, Michael DID mean "You've got another THING coming."

He couldn't elaborate because it's a family website.

Pat H said...

Many kids as said earlier are just unaware. The problem with online gaming is that it is phony socializing. If taken in the right context it can be alot of fun. After working all day and perhaps catching a game with friends, playing online to wind down for an hour is fine. If you are the type that hasn't washed or dressed in several days because you have been part of some raiding party and believe that this is socializing then whamo - you need game kid.

Here's to you trying to change the "Bored Game" mentality to board Game fun.

I was one who abandoned board gaming for pc gaming for several years so I know both sides of this as for me it's been a cycle. I owned an Intellevision, Collecovision, Atari 2600, NES, SEGA, Super NES and finally got to play Close Combat on the PC. There is room for both so go get 'em!

Ken B. said...

Yeah, all kidding aside, I'll be checking out the column (I can't from work, silly i'net blockers).

I'm actually far more steeped in the culture of console gaming than boardgaming. While my history in the 80s is weak, I was playing Pong on a Sears 3-in-1 game console in 1978.

I haven't bought a next-gen system yet but I do have (working) Atari 2600, NES, Genesis, SNES, Virtual Boy, Sega CD, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, Playstation 2, Gamecube, and XBox. I even did a "Top 100 Console Games" article for a gaming website one time.

The question is--can you convert kids who grew up with videogames? I mean, in my case, yeah, it happened but video games weren't the industry they are now. You could only play so much 2600 before you got bored with it. Now I've got stacks of games for the newer systems that are either shrinkwrapped or I've booted up and played for like two hours.

I keep telling myself "I'll get around to them..." But then I go to Gamestop and pick up a pile of used games.

Then there's the question--do we WANT to convert them? I'm talking from their perspective. Let's face it, most of the avid hobbyists are OCD collector freaks (myself included--there is NO REASON I need 170+ board games and 500 console games).

So you get a kid who only sinks $15 a month into World of Warcraft and we "convert" him. Next thing we know he's still buying Warcraft but he's out $100 a month on new boardgames.

It's socially irresponsible. I think.

Pat H said...

It's cheaper than crack though, right?

bill abner said...

I don't think it's a about conversion as much as it's about exposing people to different forms of entertainment. If a kid/guy/gal/whatever loves video and PC games or even fantasy-horror-geek-a-fied movies--then I see no reason why many of those same people wouldn't enjoy a good board game.

Many simply don't know about them and the ones that do have never actually played them.

There is a huge demographic that the hobby is either ignoring or is considering a lost cause. I think it's interesting that games like Catan and Carcassonne are hitting Xbox Live of all places -- and selling well (Catan is anyway). It's like the videogame industry is TELLING the boardgame companies: Hey look, our users like this stuff!

I think there is a misconception (by some) that all teenage gamers are over-stimulated freaks...a gawky version of the squirrel in Over the Hedge.

The kids that I introduce games to, be they family members or my daughter's friends, games from Ticket to Ride to Fury of Dracula -- almost all of them are surprised at how much fun they are. After all, there is a reason we love these games so much, right?

Michael Barnes said...

If a kid/guy/gal/whatever loves video and PC games or even fantasy-horror-geek-a-fied movies--then I see no reason why many of those same people wouldn't enjoy a good board game.

Bill Abner, ladies and gentlemen...this is the best and most efficient statement made about accessibility and game appeal I've read in while.

The real question is whether Mark E. Smith would let you use his likeness somewhere in the column,

Well, according to Matt "Octavian" Monin, noted BGG killjoy, I will have to get the permission of the person who posted it to BGG in order to use it. He just sent me a message saying that I would have to get permission from the original BGG posters for those images to be in the article (which I didn't add- that was Gameshark). Which makes me wonder if Matt regularly polices the podcasts, blogs, online reviews, retailers, Ebay auctions and other non-Michael Barnes related places where BGG-pulled images might surface. And as a commercial site, does BGG get permission from manufacturers, publishers and designers to post copyrighted images? Hmm.

Ken B. said...

I didn't think they cared so long as you credited them.

I used the images of Francesco and Roberto from BGG because that was the best place to find quality images of them. However, I was sure to credit BGG for the images.

Michael Barnes said...

Eh, we'll straighten it out...I have no problem with giving due credit, but I think it is funny that I see BGG images everywhere without any kind of credit and I get "chided" by a BGG admin about off-site matters- and I'm already BANNED FROM THE FREAKING SITE!

Ken B. said...

But are you REALLY, Michael?


Pat H said...

You wouldn't want to incur the wrath of the mighty empire of "Photo's of Beat Up Game Box Corp". You'll lose your shirt.

I also have a PS2 that my daughters play from time to time along with the PC. I try to add as much board gaming time as video game time to keep it balanced and they for the most part don't see the difference as long as they are entertained. They don't spend too much time glued to the control pad as I try to keep controls on that. I'd rather come up with a Monsters Menace Snakes and Ladders hybrid if that's what makes it interesting.

Michael Barnes said...

I can still log in, manage my collection, and counteract Tom Vasel's month-in-advance-of-publication "glowing" reviews of Days of Wonder payola games with my ratings and comments. I can even trade. But I can't post anything.

Ken B. said...

For awhile there I would've SWORN you were that Swedish dude on there starting a bunch of "strike match, light fire" geeklists and offering Swedish lessons to anyone who would listen.


Ken B. said...

Also, my comment was like, "yeah, they SAY you're banned, but they still reach the long arm of Johnny Law at you when you least expect it."

"Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in."

Pat H said...

BGG - the all seeing eye. I just lifted all of the admin's avatars from over there and am currently using them under several accounts in a french S&M porno site forum.

Just do a google search and lift the beatup box cover photo's off of wherever else, that does not have overseas operatives (KGBGG), and you'll be fine.


Michael Barnes said...

No...I wasn't the Swedish dude...I corresponded with him a couple of times, he's a freakin' hoot. He sent me this message saying that he was going to do a geeklist comparing BGG to PARADISE LOST and it was just hysterical. He kinda lost steam, it seems like. Funny guy.

I just lifted all of the admin's avatars from over there and am currently using them under several accounts in a french S&M porno site forum.

Whoa,'ll have to get permission from Aldie to use his robot avatar. But first he'll have to get permission to use that image as his avatar on his own commercial site from One Little Indian Records, who will have to get permission from video director/effects supervisior Chris Cunningham, who will have to get permission from Bjork.

bill abner said...

Well, the image thing is my fault. I never dreamed that would be an issue. Coming from the PC/console media angle...this pretty much happens all the time. They're screenshots for cryin' out loud. The only time we ever worry about that stuff is for truly custom pics taken in-game. If GameSpot has a snapshot of the editor playing one else will use it. They also put that neat little yellow G on their pics.

But a snapshot of a box cover?

Anyway, all images have been replaced with images from company websites or from Wiki or other 'net sources so it's no longer an issue.

Sheesh, I just wanted to save myself five minutes of scouring. LOL.

Michael Barnes said...

Well Bill, while you were there getting the pics you could have clicked on the model camera used to take the picture and gone to to buy one for yourself.


Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Mike, Bill - well done on a great and proactive idea. Video games are a good release but boardgames will give kids a bit more social interaction and make them use their brains a bit differently ... and shit they'll still have fun !

Mr Skeletor said...

You god damn sell out barnes!
*shakes fist*

Mr Skeletor said...

I'd love Octavian to explain how getting images pulled from a video game website "Promotes the hobby." Isn't that what they are always on about?

Sounds like sour grapes to me. I have little doubt that if this column were Vasel's they wouldn't have had the images pulled.

bill abner said...

Image weirdness aside, Michael's first four columns are in, and here's a snip of next week's for F:AT readers:

in this column I’d like to present you with a veritable shopping list of “gateway” games that, if you’re a video gamer looking to investigate this line of reasoning further, will give you plenty to sink your teeth into and won’t scare you away with cornball, “family friendly” art and themes involving penguins or produce like so many introductory games suggested elsewhere. Every one of these games is currently available through any number of online retail outlets specializing in hobby games but I strongly suggest seeking out and visiting your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)...

Anyone care to take a guess at the five Michael Barnes Gateway Games? Really curious what you guys think about this column when it goes up next week.

Muzza said...

I've been told by legal types that copyright law is one of the most complicated and convoluted branches of law there is.

It is my experience as a graphic designer and artist that most people will not enforce their copyrights unless the material is being used in a damaging or profit-making way. Take my recent reposting of my BGG submission of the Civ spoof 'Shizzilization'. Hasbro have rights to that game now and may have issues with their art being used that way, I probably was breaching copyright laws making that file. The artist who illustrated original box cover may still own the rights to that picture. These people could possibly take action but why would they want to? It's just not worth the hassle.

Octavian is probably well within his rights to complain about the usage of the BGG images but it is small minded to do so, in my opinion. Asking for a credit line would have been reasonable.

Muzza said...

An absolutely excellent initiative Michael. It's good to see somebody walking the walk as well as talking the talk. Good on Bill to give you another soap box to stand on. I'll be logging on regularly to check out the column, and the rest of the site for that matter. Might have to dig up my PS2.

Muzza said...

My guess at the Barnes Gateway 5:

Betrayal at the House on the hill

Monsters Menace America

Settlers of Catan (the euro)

Memoir 44 (being more gateway than ToI)

Star Wars Risk

Rliyen said...

It is my experience as a graphic designer and artist that most people will not enforce their copyrights unless the material is being used in a damaging or profit-making way. Take my recent reposting of my BGG submission of the Civ spoof 'Shizzilization'. Hasbro have rights to that game now and may have issues with their art being used that way, I probably was breaching copyright laws making that file. The artist who illustrated original box cover may still own the rights to that picture. These people could possibly take action but why would they want to? It's just not worth the hassle.

Actually, your parody of the artwork falls under "Fair Use" of copyright. You really have nothing to worry about.

bill abner said...


I'm hoping to move past this image stuff, and I really have no beef at all with any of the BGG admins. I've never spoken to one in any form...ever. I don't even know who they are other than the guy that runs the site.

But I do want to make something very clear: those images aren't copyrighted by anyone other than the company who owns them. Not the "image uploader" or BGG for that matter. Those might be the BGG rules but that's another matter.

I replaced the images with images from other sources just to move past it (it really is a molehill) and in retrospect should have simply credited BGG in the first place. I just never dreamed that would be an issue. My mistake there.

But GameShark could have just as easily kept them in the column because there's no way that BGG could say that those images belong to them as their 'property'. Why do you think nearly every videogame website watermarks their images?

Like this:

They do it so that other websites don't cherry pick them. I could just as easily have said that I grabbed those off eBay, or imageshack, or any of 1,000 other places. Whose to say the person that uploaded them to BGG didn't do the same? They were all generic box cover shots.

If BGG is in fact concerned about people using their images (and for the life of me I have no idea why that would be the case)-- they should start watermarking them to avoid such problems in the future.

Anyway, that's the last I'm gonna mention this because I really think it's being made into more than what it needs to be. I'll take the blame for not adding a BGG credit; (Michael had absolutely nothing to do with the pics) I do think it was a petty thing to get upset about, and the images were all replaced. Done and done.

Jack Hill said...

Ken. I'll see your 1978 Pong Game and raise you a Magavox Odyssey I. Curiously, both my wife and I had them as kids....and we still have both of them.

She actually still has the light gun. It still works (for 1970's definition of works.)

From reading Kotaku, there are a fair number of Eurogamers, though. Posts about the XBL Settlers and Carcassonne have gotten a TON of content. (I understand Settlers. But...Carcassonne?)

You should do a bit on Heroscape, mayhap. It is cheap, pretty, and does have that whole tactics RPG vibe going for it.

Oh. And I'll see if I can dig up my copy of Culdcept. It is a video boardgame that is actually good. The Lineage II boardgame seems to steal a bit from it.

mtlawson said...

I'm going to say:

Nexus Ops
Star Wars Risk: Original Series
Axis and Allies
Fury of Dracula

I don't think they'll be his favorites, like say Twilight Struggle, but they'll be games that can be picked up on quickly.

--Mike L.

Joey Knuckles said...

Just wanted to pop in and congratulate Michael on a great first column. I'm looking forward to reading the next batch even though I could read them right now..

BTW Michael can probably make a few colorful remarks without offending anyone at GameShark - it's not like our readership is made up of Nick Jr. viewers...

Mr Skeletor said...

"Rights" is a strawman issue, as almost everyone on the web is breaking copyright somewhere, including BGG. After all, did anyone ask the artist if they could take an image of his/her work?
The point is no one (unless they are an idiot) is going to care if another site uses an image they took of a fucking BOX COVER! I could maybe understand if it was a picture involving people or one of the more artistic pictures people put on there, but complaining about pinching box cover images is stupid. Should youtube users complain about the embedded videos people put up on other sites?
Shit like this gets pulled and yet people still have the nerve to claim we play the victim card without justification.

Anonymous said...

"d00d u got pwned"

That was some funny shit Barnes.

Very nice column. You made boardgames sound FUN and WORTHWHILE, and you informed without getting all preachy. Very well done. And way to go Gameshark. I've got one new bookmark now. Who knows? I may play some videogames again...

(Too bad about all the sourpusses over at BGG. There really are a bunch of snooty-fatooty snobs over at the snobatorium. Board games are supposed to be fun! BGG is informative, but it is not fun.)

Ken B. said...

Really nice, Michael. You are definitely a credit to the hobby.

Magnavox Odyssey...heh, to show I had absolutely no chance of NOT being a video game addict, I had an aunt who had one of those. She was hooked on video games even before I was! She had an Atari before I did, an NES before I did...

I remember going over to her house when she got the Odyssey...I think I remember KC's Krazy Chase (that was the Pac-Man clone, right? I'm going from memory and not looking it up) and also this weird Space Invaders clone where your ship could get destroyed and only leave you as a little dude on the bottom but since you couldn't do anything as the little dude, it was really just took you longer to finally die.

Mike said...

As a teacher of teenagers might I suggest you refrain from the following words:

paradigms (which, might I add is a word that dumb people use to make themselves sound smart, so avoid this anyway)

The average gamer-teenager has no idea what these words mean. Not to mention that after they phonetically mouth the word "impetus", they are going to draw some really wierd conclusions about you.

Also, in getting teenagers to try games I find it usually helps to make connections to the things they like instead of "dis-ing" the things like as you did when you took a shot at MMORPG's. Whether or not you think they are a waste of time, stating this to kids creates an instant adversarial relationship.

All in all, despite how negative the above may have sounded, I think you've made a noble effort and wrote a pretty good column. Will this absolve you of you sins at "that boardgame site"? Probably not, but it should.

Nice job, you filthy bastard.

Michael Barnes said...

Hey, at least I didn't use "diaspora" in there...

The average gamer-teenager has no idea what these words mean.

Well, I'm not operating under the presumption that the kids (or adults for that matter) who read or are new to gaming are not stupid, but are instead likely pretty smart. I think that's a big mistake we see often in these articles/forum posts/geeklists where someone is trying to introduce a new gamer to the hobby- it comes across as pandering, pedantic, and patronizing. Then they'll recommend the most idiotic, simple games assuming that the reader can't handle anything more than that. I think a new gamer, with the right inclinations and interests, can get right into TI3 and not miss a beat. And I also think that "them smart words" are probably understood by more folks than you'd imagine. There's no reason to "talk down" to an audience, and that's one thing that drives young people away more than anything else.

You might be right about ragging on MMORPGs...but there's also the likelihood of attracting people who don't care for them or hate the fact that their friends aren't around any more because of them.

Pat H said...

I didn't undurstnd n-e thing u rote, 2 men-e wurds dood. wair r da boobies!!
U r sux bad lol lol ch ching! Pwnd!!
Woot woot!!

Is 2w-I-lite 4 da Xbox r PS3??

Wut bout Civiz8shun -Wii r Xbox??

neonpeon said...

Yeah I don't think kids like it when you mock their IM-speak. Check out the comments on this blog post, starting with "APR 12" (ctrl-f for it) -

Thaadd said...

Nice. It's good to see people follow up, verses just wish vainly for something to change without effort!

IMHO, it's better to challege people with vocab, than dumb down. Age irrelevant.

Pat H said...

Of course there are exceptions. However for a very large portion of the next generation this will replace proper spelling and grammar. For all of the kids that won't go on to post secondary education they will be left with this. At least in my day the kids that had no intention on post secondary education could (or should have) the ability to read and write properly. This IM speak is doing nothing more than providing the un-enthused with a reason to do less. I have already noticed a sharp decline in simple manners when speaking with teenagers. It's not that they are attempting to be rude -not at all- however it has become more acceptable to "get it done faster cus it's easier" and if that means saying "is so and so there" rather than "may I speak with so and so please" over the phone, that is the price. As the OP of the article you posted wrote, he received an application in IM speak - his point being that it is creeping into the norm for the average kid rather than clever usage by the more initiated that would bother to post responses on a blog.

Most kids don't give a rats ass about blogging and such topics - most kids are relieved that they can forget about elocution and oratory, just to spatter out "S'up dog" to a potential job recruiter or their grandparents.

For my generation it was "huh" (followed by a slap off the back of the head from my old man), now it's a blank stare followed by "speak!" at best.

My parents complained and their’s before them but people are losing the ability to communicate as a society properly. Just look at e-mails and forums, how even the best worded message can be taken the wrong way, let alone some IM speak jargon.

I think the main idea of this article is a noble one, let the kids try and look up the words – if they are reading it to begin with that is a start, and they will want to finish it.

Juniper said...

Michael wrote a nice article, but he forgot to mention that Settlers of Catan is a resource management game with a modular board, or that Dune uses variable player powers as one of its main mechanics. He also neglected to use the phrases agonizing decisions, player elimination, set-collection, or multi-player solitaire.

Also, instead of Settlers, I think that Michael should have recommended Pillars of the Earth, since it's a Caylus-lite.

Jack Hill said...


You are thinking of the Odyssey II. The Odyssey I is something of a different beast. A videogame system from 1972 with overlays you stick on the screen, massive controllers with 3 randomly placed knobs, and cartridges that are sets of jumpers that control what happens when the two big blocks and one little block collide.

Most of the included games have boards and cards with a page or two of rules, because so little happens on the screen.

Michael Barnes said...


Juniper said...


No way! I'm trying to appeal to youthful internet users. That's why I type things like 1337, pwn, and action-point allowance system.

Octavian said...

The distinction here is that Gameshark is a commercial site and thus need permission to use any image, regardless of if they came from BGG or elsewhere. In the case of BGG the rights of the images are retained by the user that uploads them.

Ebay is the biggest offender and we've contacted them more times than I care to count about sellers using BGG images to sell their products. So it isn't like this is part of a euro-jihad against all things F:AT related.


Michael Barnes said...

OK, so is BGG _not_ a commercial site that uses thousands of copyrighted images without permission from publishers, artists, and other rights-holders?

Octavian said...

When we are asked by the rights holder to remove content we do. This is most often done with scans of game components, but it has happened with images as well on occasion.

Pat H said...

I can't believe you contacted e-Bay, that was funny. What were they trying to sell - someone's girlfriend who happened to be in the picture of a beat up D&D handbook?

Michael Barnes said...

That's not the question, Matt. The question is, does BGG- as a COMMERCIAL SITE use thousands of images of copyrighted material without the express permission of the rightsholders? Does BGG have permission from all the indiviuals depicted in any number of photographs- some quite embarassing- to be represented on a COMMERCIAL site?

Bottom line is this- You wouldn't bat an eye if Tom Vasel did the same thing.

James Fudge said...


With all due respect, it should be noted that William pulled those images that you allegedly own and simply went to google, found them elsewhere and used them on our site.. but here's the shocker - they were identical to the ones on your site anyway. My point is, no one can hold a copyright on something that they don't own, didn't create and is readily available all over the internet. I'm not going to bother getting into copyright law, but if you want to sift through that stuff and waste your time, then I reccomend supporting the contiuning efforts of wikipedia.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you dislike Michael Barnes, but that's not our problem. He's a good writer with some great insight and he has our full support. I hope you will support the great work he's doing.

Thanks for listening!

James Fudge
Editor in Chief,

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Yeah - keep your 'BGG hates Barnes' to BGG please.

The most ironic thing here is you can bet within the next column or two of Mike's he will be referring people to BGG.

ben_ethus said...

That's cool that you have a new place to write articles, MB.

I have one question, though...

The article about age was posted only a few days ago. How the heck did you manage to get a column on what appears to be a relatively large video-gaming site practically overnight?

Did you just email them and say, "Hey, I want to write stuff for you. Post it on your site."

Just seems really fast, and made me wonder if anyone who has some writing talent can just randomly approach big websites and get a writing column?

Anyhoo, that's a long way of saying that I'm curious about the origins/logistics of setting up your column so fast...

Good luck with it!

Pat H said...

Hey - who want's to incur the wrath of some fatass wanting his "meeple array" photo which he spent so much time setting up, removed.

It must be tough keeping track of all of the Intellectual Property going up daily on a site that 99.9% of the english speaking world doesn't know or give a shit about.

You wouldn't want to actually promote any gaming now would you - that would be bad, why the kids might show up and ruin everything!

Ken B. said...

Ben, as far as I know Michael had this gig in the works in advance; I know he told me about it around a week ago or so.

Michael Barnes said...

The most ironic thing here is you can bet within the next column or two of Mike's he will be referring people to BGG.

Well considering some joker over there pretty much made it seem that I had some kind of "responsibility" to refer people to BGG, I'd probably send them over to Gleemax first.

Ben- Here's the "Behind the Music" version of the story.

Bill's a friend of my good friend Richard Launius. Bill contacted me regarding some things he's garaging up on Marvel Heroes. It came up that he's an editor over there at He asked if I'd like to do a couple of articles. We got to talking about some things and realized that it'd be a great opportunity to really get the word out in a new way to a new audience.

The "age" article came somewhat out of that discussion and writing the article...and a flash of inspiration I had listening to the song "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John. The timing just happened to be right, really.

Plus when I'm "in the zone", I can crank out material pretty quickly. I wrote all of June's columns in the space of two days. I'm not like Sam Healy, who claims to labor for 2 hours over even a two-line post. And it doesn't hurt that I'm quittin' my day job next friday to become a pro writer, so I'm totally short timing this place. ;-P

Oh, then I OD'ed, crashed a car, killed the drummer of Hanoi Rocks, cleaned up, and then went on a reunion tour supporting an album no one bought.

KenHR said...

Great column, Michael. Congrats, and I look forward to reading more.

Right on about not talking down to the kids, too.

mtlawson said...

Mike, what sort of feedback (outside of that here on F:AT) are you getting?

Just curious, you know.

--Mike L.

Juniper said...

Oh, then I OD'ed, crashed a car, killed the drummer of Hanoi Rocks, cleaned up, and then went on a reunion tour supporting an album no one bought.

How many GeekGold did you get for that?

Mr Skeletor said...

The distinction here is that Gameshark is a commercial site and thus need permission to use any image, regardless of if they came from BGG or elsewhere. In the case of BGG the rights of the images are retained by the user that uploads them.

As has been pointed out, BGG is a commercial site now too.
Now name some sites that are NOT hated by BGG (as ebay sellers are) that you have asked images to be pulled from.

James Fudge makes me wish I was into video gaming more.

bill abner said...

Feedback's a funny thing. People love to leave feedback if:

A) Their message is there for all to see..

B) They REALLY hate an article. They'll takle the time to slam you more often than they will to say, "hey good job."

GameShark (currently) doesn't have a ready-made feedback page -- just a feedback email which people rarely use. If we had something where people could leave feedback on a page...

Is it being read? Oh, yeah, without a doubt. Our traffic is pretty substantial, but I haven't seen any feedback from readers yet. I have shown the column and discussed the idea to other editor-folk and they're all in agreement that we're onto something and that Michael's pretty darn good at expressing himself. If you're a columnist, rule one is that you have to have something to say. That's not as common as you might think.

Columns also take time to gather a reader-base, which is why I'm excited about the weekly format rather than doing it monthly.

Octavian said...

You caught me. I hate Michael Barnes. I also eat babies, make the sign of the cross when I accidentally touch a d20, and carry a sharpie around with me to draw burkhas on all images of scantily clad fantasy game females I am forced to pass by in my FLGS when I'm trying to make my way to the wholesome and pure eurogame section.


Now I must again go and bathe in the font of holy water I have in my backyard grotto for once again sullying my fingers by composing a response on this wretched and diseased site. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING!!!

Anonymous said...

Watch a movie like "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift" and you will see what the average video gamer's priorities are.

You may realize what a snowball's chance you have to get any of them to play boardgames. But regardless, good luck.

jan lucas said...

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you dislike Michael Barnes, but that's not our problem. He's a good writer with some great insight and he has our full support. I hope you will support the great work he's doing."

I gotta agree with this as well as the statement that T Vasel wouldn't be hounded if he used the same images. The thing that makes this all seem personal is that it seems like it's always Octavian who responds to Barnes 'issues' (and not really anyone else from BGG). Correct me if I'm wrong.

Still, how about giving it a rest? Maybe BGG should owe up to the fact that Barnes shouldn't have been banned in the first place - and stop throwing obstacles in his path now that he has successfully moved on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Octavian can be the site's first banning ...

jan lucas said...

Mike said...

"As a teacher of teenagers might I suggest you refrain from the following words:

paradigms (which, might I add is a word that dumb people use to make themselves sound smart, so avoid this anyway)

No, no, no, no! Please don't tell me kids are dumber today than when when we were in high school (in my case in the 1980s). I don't buy it. I went to a regular high school in North America without too many bells & whistles, but had dedicated teachers (a few of them anyway) who pushed us beyond our limits, whether they were teaching the Greek playwrights, or Shakespeare or Harold Pinter. Even if we didn't understand everything we were taught (and we didn't) we were at least made aware that a different world existed out there beyond our small high school lives of homework and chores and teenage angst. Learning new language and concepts and not getting them dumbed down in the Coles Notes version was pretty important, at least for me, and many friends I went to school with.

"Paradigm is aword I might I add is a word that dumb people use to make themselves sound smart."

No it bloody well isn't.

Russ Fade said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you dislike Michael Barnes, but that's not our problem.

Not true at all. Octavian and the others at BGG love Barnes so much that they had to Ban him from their site. They were afraid their hearts would explode . . . explode with LOVE . . . if they didn't send him away.

It's a much nicer site now, too. Everyone is SOOO polite there. Just the other day, as I was reading about Caylus, someone reached through my PC monitor and KISSED me!! French style! Was that you, Ocatavian, you rascal? I love BGG!

I'm glad you got your pictures back.

alan polak said...

here i am coming late to the party again. Well done for taking your show on the road as it were. For all the flapping that SOOOO many people do on the internet about the hobby etc. it is amazing that what they really mean is them and their 4 friends. Bravo.

Can Octavian please post as anonymous so I can skip his posts next time? Whats up with that guy? Seems like he's "doing a Healey" and just making a twat of himself. Anyway keep up the good work..

Anonymous said...

Your premise in each column should be "Board Games have all the action, all the fun of video games --with the added bonus of being able to play them with friends live --and see their face expressions."

Bring us there. Put us in your game. Give us the experience of how these games are supposed to be played.

Bring up the trashing table talk, the silly character talking, the unbelievable odds, the heroric reverses, the sneaky backstabbing, the plans made that succeeded ...and failed.

And the food and drinks consumed among friends!

Recommend avoid bringing up the other faction even to put them down. They're boring. The risk is people stop reading at boring. Every time you mention them, you lose readers who saw boring: Middle managers, church youth directors, math teachers who hold game clubs after school --you drop readers at every mention.

While putting down computer programmers on a *video game* site shows YOU DON'T GET IT. Who exactly, if not programmers, wrote all those cool titles on the rest of gameshark, Barnes? Ensemble Studios programmers are gawds to be awed and worshipped, even if they are led by Bruce Shelley.

You'll lose all cred on video game sites ...and all readers ...if you can't avoid making that mistake again.

Once you find your voice, I believe you could be excellent. Tell us what you enjoy. Tell us that, and help us to feel it.

Dan said...


Well written first article, I enjoyed it very much. I'll be curious to hear as you begin to get feedback from GameShark readers, what things that you said caught their attention, what did they apparently completely ignore.

As a father of two teenagers (when did I get old?), I've enjoyed introducing boardgaming not only to them, but to their friends as well. I'm convinced some of them think I'm totally unbalanced (and I'm not sure I could prove them wrong), but most that have been willing to sit down and try a game or two seem have enjoyed themselves.

Oh, and I agree with you, I don't think we do anyone any good by trying to dumb articles down to what we "think" a teenager can handle. Hasn't every generation be absolutely convinced that the younger generations just weren't as smart, were ruder, and had far worse taste in music? :)


dgilligan said...

Excellent article over on Gameshark, Michael. I never had reason to go to that site but will probably take the time to do so on a weekly basis to see what you have to say on the hobby.

I also have to say I like BGG and use that site almost every day to read about games, find the hot deals, etc... The whole issue about the images is rather ludicrous as it seems that a mutually beneficial arrangement could have been reached. Cross-promotion can be a great thing.

I also think that your banning on BGG is the best thing that could have happened. I didn't follow your writing much on BGG mainly because it got lost in the noise. This forum and the Gamershark forums are much better for the type of writing you do. I come here to read your's and other's articles.

Loved the article about Duel in the Dark and I'm looking forward to seeing it this week at Origins. A buddy of mine has already asked Zev to hold a copy for him (which no doubt he will since my friend has a game published through Z-Man games.)

In any case, keep up the good work.

PaulW said...

Excellent read Mr Barnes. Good Luck with your column!

Michael Barnes said...

First off, thanks for all the kind comments and support- it really means a lot to me that you guys appreciate what I'm trying to do with the column. I love boardgaming with all my black little heart and I derive a lot of satisfaction knowing that maybe some kid in Dubuque, Iowa might read the column and find his way into the hobby. I've really gotten tired of these people who claim that they're somehow game "evangelists" yet couch all of their podcasts, articles, reviews, and so forth in the sort of esoteric, in-crowdish language that alienates new people and makes the hobby feel inapproachable. Further, I'm tired of seeing people suggest games like TICKET TO RIDE to kids who play GRAND THEFT AUTO. And beyond that, I'm tired of every "newbie" gamer I meet being over 35 years old.

Of course, it wasn't long before a BGG user piped up and made comments about how the "average Gameshark reader" wouldn't be able to understand anything I wrote and that there'd be no reaching the "minds of mush" over there...I think it's hysterical how boardgamers have this arrogant, "sophisticated" attitude...about playing board games. Ha!

dgilligan said...


Will you be getting feedback on your Gamershark article via their email feedback system? It would be interesting to see here what, if any, reaction you receive from regular users of that site.

As far as not understanding your articles, I don't see that as a problem. They might not understand why I and others want to sit around for 5 hours playing a game about the German election system, or more to the point why I would rather play Doom the boardgame than whip ass (or get my ass handed to me) in a game of Doom/Quake/Battlefield, etc...I think your article pointed out some reasons why that may be the case.

BTW, I've done my share of ass whippin on line, but not lately!

As a side note, I have a copy of Gladiator (Avalon Hill) for trade. Noticed on that other Boardgame site that its on your want list.

Wesley Crusher said...

Putting your money where your mouth is? I didn't realize you had that much money!

Michael Barnes said...

Probably more than you got in Federation severance pay!

mtlawson said...

Yikes! I only got one of the five right (Nexus Ops).

--Mike L.

bill abner said...

Yeah, some interesting choices. I'd love to get a discussion going on this one. Hopefully Michael will blog about it so we can start a new thread of sorts.

Michael Barnes said...

Well, we can do it right here...

I specfically chose things that were for one thing, in print and easy to get, and for another that I thought had direct analogues to video games and other matters of "geek appeal".

I figured the most "controversial" would be DESCENT and ZOMBIES...DESCENT because it's long and complex, ZOMBIES because it's really kind of crappy. But I think gamers inclined to enjoy fantasy video games are already acclimated to a degree of complexity in their entertainment choices and the overwhelming "coolness" of DESCENT would likely win over even new gamers- who might go on to play nothing but DESCENT for years to come. ZOMBIES is a great example of the same appeal that really trashy movies have...I don't watch DRACULA, PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN for great filmmaking (although it has its moments) but I love it and in the right mood I'd rather watch it over a Tarkovsky picture. I think it's very immediate, it's something people can pick up and play and enjoy without having to really dig into it, and it's fun.

Next week it's "Games to Avoid"!

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Great second column - enjoyed it. I think you were fine with all of the last four choices as they should appeal to a diverse range of video gamers for reasons of genre, mechanics, and game length ... a lot of them should find something that looks interesting that they may at least research about.

I know it will make most of us choke, but - you probably need a link to some online source for boardgame reviews or data (and if you have included one and I missed it then I'll do the smack-in-the-mouth treatment to me myself) for those who can't wait until next week.

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