Thursday, 23 August 2007

games i like



;-) games i like ;-)

Hi everybody! After last week's column was criticized for being negative, I've decided to change my outlook on board gaming and this week's column and every one from here on it is going to be called "games i like". Isn't that cute that it's all in lowercase? I don't want the smaller letters to feel like they can't compete with the big ones! ;-) Bill Abner thinks I've lost my mind and won't change the name on the website but I've come to my senses and realized that the only way to promote the wonderful, whimsical world of boardgaming is to be happy, friendly, positive, and to rise above all those nasty things I said about AGE OF EMPIRES III. So won't you come share the magic with me as I celebrate...

SPACE CRUSADE!!!

72 comments:

Thaadd said...

Quick, someone grab the sedatives. I'll get the straight jacket...

Ken B. said...

Thaadd, what was it like designing Space Crusade?

Thaadd said...

If I told you, I would have to kill you... Non-(survivor) Disclosure Agreement and all...

scott b said...

I just hope that I had some hand in the development of Michael Barnes v. 2.0: pink ponies, strawberry lip gloss, and big huggable purple dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Nah, at least I never found you really even a bit harsh. There were a few people on BGG that seemed to think it. People were criticizing you last time for being whiny and boring, not negative. More of the same it seems this week. Come on Barnes! You sound exactly like them.

Michael Barnes said...

Hi Anonymous! :-) I'm so glad you stopped by to enjoy the wonderful world of boardgaming as one of our new Gamefriends! I think you'll find that this magical community provides ample shelter from the harshness and competition out there in the real world. We're so much better than they are and I hope that with "games i like" we can get those terrible, ne'er-do-well scofflaws that play GRAND THEFT AUTO and all those video games of killing and destruction into proper games that the whole family can enjoy! :-)

Look at it this way. Who's funnier, the nasty and vulgar comedy of Andrew Dice Clay or the hilarious hijinks of Gallagher? I realize now that the way I was taking the hobby was toward the Andrew Dice Clay model. If you like magic more than comedy, replace Andrew Dice Clay with Criss Angel and Gallagher with Doug Henning. The point is that we've got to be friends, or else we will run off all these "newbies" looking for friends too! :-)

I'd also like to issue a public apology to Glenn Drover and Tropical Games...I realize now that maybe AOEIII wasn't my cup of tea and I'm sure that it's an amazing game for the Gamefriends out there who enjoy it. In the future, when I have bad feelings about a game, I'll make sure to instead right about the happy thoughts I had playing it. "No whinging" as our English friends might say! ;-)

Pat H said...

I was really hoping that the Starcraft game coming out would be more about harvesting vespeen gfas and less about combat.

Wouldn't in be nice if the game came with 180 plastic figs for SCV's, Drones and Probes? Imagine the fun harvesting resources and stockpiling crystals and gas for trade without the hinderance of all the messy conflict?

Once again the boardgame community - FFG in this case, has dropped the ball and not delivered what the real fans of Starcraft want.

Way to go Thaad.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

He's still not right after the 'Munchkin' shock last week ... apologies again.

mtlawson said...

At least he hasn't decided to go into wearing a Swatch.

Again.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

These are one of the few OOP games that us on the other side of the pond can pick up with not too much difficulty (or used to) - I grabbed about three copies a few years back to play but also 'cos I saw a site where some guys had produced some tabletop rules for it so I thought extra figures would be good.

But have yet to get it out in anger due to my young lad being young and it not quite being the right flavour for most of the people I game with, but the lad is getting older and I've found a wargaming group recently who play anything so this baby will be hitting the table soon.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

MikeL - took your advice on Memoir-44 with my lad and he is quite keen on it, and being nearly 9yrs he was able to use most of the tactics cards straight off so he got a lot out of it ... next up, 'Wings of Wars'.

Anonymous said...

I think I liked you more when you were Blink 182 instead of Counting Crows you edgy internet maverick.

Rliyen said...

"Just relax and answer the questions as quickly as you can, Michael."

"Okay."

"You're given a copy of Age of Empires III, how do you review it?"

"Oh, dear. It's not my cup of tea, but maybe someone else will like it, so I will give it a good review!"

"Uh huh."

"How would you describe Caylus?"

"Oh, simply elegant! The choices you have to make, the drama! One of my favorite games!"

"One more question. Dune is being released by one of your favorite developers. The problem is that they didn't get the Dune license, but are using the mechanics to make the game about harvesting burro poop. What do you say to that?"

"I feel that the game should be made! It will appeal to young and old alike! Maybe I can get a free copy to review!"

"That's all I have, would you mind stepping out for a bit, Michael?"

"Not at all!"



"What's the prognosis? Is he a Replicant?"

"Worse. He's a Vaselite."

"I'll order the kill squad down."

Jack Hill said...

Nice to talk about something obscure, but you are wholly and totally wrong about one thing.

Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel is a much better game...if only because of the campaign system.

Ken B. said...

That's one thing that has always stopped me from picking up Space Crusade--already owning Mutant Chronicles.

I need to get a copy, though.

Michael Barnes said...

Ha ha! You are all so funny, I'm glad that we're all Gamefriends. ;-)

Tom, you really should share your good fortune as an Englishman with the rest of your Gamefriends here and dispense copies of SPACE CRUSADE so we can all share in the fun. I would like a copy of the Eldar expansion, please. Space elves! Tee hee!

Jack- but MUTANT CHRONICLES encourages players to backstab and interfere with their chances of winning...that isn't what Gamefriends do! We help each other by pointing out strategies (only if table talk is allowed! ;-) ) and by encouraging all players to succeed- and have fun! When players are forced to betray and backstab, all that results are hurt feelings. Time for you to go back to the Harmony Hut with a copy of BLOKUS and THE COMPLEAT WORKS OF TOM VASEL!

Rliyen said...

That's one thing that has always stopped me from picking up Space Crusade--already owning Mutant Chronicles.

I own two copies, so I guess that's reason why I'm not getting SC, uh, squared!

Squigherder said...

I can believe I overlooked this game in my "soon to be FFG-ified" geeklist!

Space Crusade would be great as the next big TI3 re-theming.

BTW Thadd feel free to use any of my ideas over at that other boardgaming site.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

MB - You call me an Englishman one more time and I'll come and kick your Californian butt downtown and back.

Tom 'the very pissed Kiwi' Hazlett

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

And DON'T even think about 'Australian' .... just don't go there.

Pat H said...

I'd play Space Crusade if they re-released it with wood instead of plastic figures, and eliminated most of the combat.

A diplomacy option for the Space Marines would add so much depth - with all of the goods within the Imperium available for trade. Why not make friends of these "Chaos" or whatever's, they may be interested in swapping textiles for curiosities to fill the many Goth store's within the Imperium.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Rliyen said...
I own two copies, so I guess that's reason why I'm not getting SC, uh, squared!


Hey - that's five copies (maybe more as I'm not sure of mine) between us, lets organise a mega game ... invites to all Munchkin connoisseurs

Squigherder said...

Hey pat,

I said TI3 re-theme and FFG-ify it not turn it into a piece of shit.

adrianbolt said...

I'm soooo disappointed Michael. When I saw the intro image I thought you'd be writing about the SJG cross-licencing rumour. They want to do a My Little Munchkin Pony Game.

Rliyen said...

Rliyen said...
I own two copies, so I guess that's reason why I'm not getting SC, uh, squared!

Hey - that's five copies (maybe more as I'm not sure of mine) between us, lets organise a mega game ... invites to all Munchkin connoisseurs


Hey! What a brilliant idea! We call it GLOM (Gathering Lovers of Munchkin)!

I call Mishima, along with the Sneaky Bastard Sword and the Horny Codpiece!

Oooo, I can also add Fury of the Clansmen and Blood Berets! SQUEE! *claps hands together* Much fun will be had for fellow Munchkinites!

Pat H said...

While Space Crusade is somewhat intriguing, I still can't get over the amount of cash I blew on GW products.

10 Years ago I might have been suckered but not now.

Now if someone wanted to produce an Axis and Allies type variant featuring Space Marines or any other sci fi theme I'd probably dive in.

Ground troops, mechs, tanks, artillery, aliens, space vessels, orbiting cannons, defense shields, endless war, plastic and dice all in one box.

Thaadd -it's yours, run with it. Let me know how it is coming along or if you need more inspiration.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Off course Michael can wear his 'Kneepads of Allure' to get into the game :-P

RiotGrrl said...

I posted this on the "..And we don't care about young folks..." blog post, but obviously it's way too old to get any sort of response. Since I know the LCD column is to sort of attempt to bring my demographic into the hobby, just thought my statements might be a bit relevant. Especially with the Starcraft game about to launch:

"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."

Rliyen said...

Off course Michael can wear his 'Kneepads of Allure' to get into the game :-P

And, of course, I didn't go there because it was too easy. Guess that was a good riposte for calling a Kiwi and Englishman! My God, man. What was he thinking?

RK Fade said...

Yeah, I'd like to see more 20-year-olds and younger playing, too. Then, maybe someone would laugh when I fart.

bill abner said...

I have to admit, that I'm afraid to go to conventions.

You should be. And I mean that. Conventions are great when you want to shop. You can really wheel and deal at some of them. But to go to GAME? Hell no. Well, at least not me. If you already have a good group of friends to game with, I wouldn't bother.

Gamers (both video and board) got their stereotype as unsocial misfits for a *reason*. Of course there are a lot of rational, everyday Joes that play board games. In fact I'd say that describes the majority of gamers.

But convention gamers are a totally different animal. Jumping into a random game at a convention is Russian Roulette. There are so many Con gamers that play games as competitions that it can both intimidate and frustrate new players.

Nothing is worse than playing a board game with a prick. Board games are first and foremost social exercises, and it's a huge edge that they hold over videogames, and when you take that out -- you're left with a bunch of dice, cardboard and an asshat who ruins everyone's good time.

Cons can be great fun if you go with a group of friends, looking to play games together and try new stuff. But if you think you're really missing anything -- you aren't.

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?

Keep converting friends before jumping into the Board Game Stranger Pit of Despair. It's a scary place.

Remember, videogamers were looked at in the exact same vein until games went "mainstream" thanks to DOOM, The Sims, and WoW. Now we're considered "normal." Boardgamers aren't quite there yet.

Still, there are a LOT of college groups that play games, at least at Ohio State. There are more than you think.

mtlawson said...

Tom--

Good to hear it. The C&C games work well with that age, I've found.

riotgrrl--

Are you in high school? College? Locally (in Cincy) there's some high schools that have game clubs, but at colleges you might have better luck. I know of at least a couple clubs at a couple of universities in my area, so I'd imagine that in NYC you ought to be able to find a group at any of the local colleges there. If worse comes to worst, try posting on a college board; you might be surprised what comes out.

--Mike L.

JoelCFC25 said...

Let's donate!








Oh come on, I can't be the first person to have thought of posting it.

mtlawson said...

Yeah, I'll echo Bill's sentiment about colleges (well, except about Ohio State). You'd be surprised at who games. When I moved into my dorm my Freshman year, the guy I was rooming with was going the business major route and on the surface of it looked like Joe Average. However, when he was unpacking his stuff, I quickly discovered he played AD&D (yeah, I'm that old).

Later in the day, another guy I was in line with to set up a bank account at the local credit union turned out to play wargames like Squad Leader.

It's weird how things turn out like that.

--Mike L.

bill abner said...

Cincy...that's in Kentucky, right? :)

NeonPeon said...

When I was 16 I played in a Magic tournament, around when Fallen Empires came out ('94). My first opponent was a fat and greasy guy with a cocky personality, not unlike Comic Book Guy. He explained how he buys a booster box (I believe roughly $90 of cards) per week, and he pummeled me with his deck mainly consisting of multi-lands and the then-impressive multicolored Legends. Then I was sent off to play the loser circuit. I beat a nice guy who was impressed with my card combos and how quickly my deck could deal out damage. Then I played a friend of the first guy - some freak who was dressed up as The Crow (mind you this wasn't a convention, and no one else was in costume) - who also buys a booster box weekly. It was a good match but I was the victor and Mr. Draven was eliminated. He then yelled "FUCK!" at the top of his lungs and punched the table.

I lost the tournament in the end, and I only played Magic with friends after that.

mtlawson said...

Not to hear the people from Kentucky, Bill. We're damn Yankees to them.

--Mike L.

Mr Skeletor said...

Is Space Crusade having a resurgence?
Didn't hear anything about this game for years, but lately it's been popping up a fair bit.

May have to go dust off my copy.

Anonymous said...

All of the people I've had dealings with at conventions have been perfectly cordial. What's wrong with playing a game competitively? To me, the greatest respect an opponent can pay is to concentrate on making the best moves and play a good, challenging game. That doesn't preclude the friendly social aspect at all, though you can only expect so much outgoing interaction from someone you scarcely know. Personally, I'd think it creepy if someone I was playing with at a con started acting as if we were good ol' buddies from way back. The worst I've personally encountered are some classic exemplars of poor hygiene. Anyone who thinks the same greasy sort doesn't exist among video gamers is self-deluded. In fact, I find that many board gamers are decent family men, while video gamers tend to be fat, arrogant punks who think they're Rambo reincarnate just because they can twiddle their thumbs faster than the average Joe.

ubarose said...

adrianbolt said...

I'm soooo disappointed Michael. When I saw the intro image I thought you'd be writing about the SJG cross-licencing rumour. They want to do a My Little Munchkin Pony Game.


I heard that they couldn't get the My Little Pony game license because it wasn't available.

Anonymous said...

In contrast to my board game convention experiences, there's the one time I attended a CPL tourney as a spectator because one of my friends was competing. Not only were the players jackasses with huge e-penises and overinflated senses of entitlement, but the tournament organizers were just as bad. My friend asks me to get one of the promotional posters for the event so that he can have it as a souvenir. I ask one of the grunts that's working the event, and he confirms my expectations that they're of no value now that the whole thing is winding down and OKs me to take one. As we're getting ready to leave, here comes the tournament organizer who has just been on stage belaboring the task of handing out raffle prizes because he's secretly aroused by the sound of his own voice. He straightaway accuses me of stealing, and starts preaching at me over a poster for an event that's already OVER. I'm so overcome with the sort of quiet rage that defies words that I storm out, never to darken the doors of a video game event again.

Rliyen said...



I heard that they couldn't get the My Little Pony game license because it wasn't available.


It's too busy being meshed into Puerto Rico to be known far and wide as My Little Pony Rancher.

bill abner said...

That really wasn't the point, anonymous, but oh well.

Of course people are going to play to win. But there is a *huge* difference in trying to play to win and being an overly competitive jerk, which you DO get a lot of at Cons, especially if you are playing specific games.

And you can certainly get in a game at a Con have a great time, but, at least in my experience, you are just as likely to play with people you clash with. Who the hell has time for that?

And I'm sorry, but I don't WANT to play a nice quiet game of...whatever. I WANT to laugh at my friend's bad move, I want him to taunt me as I miss a point blank shot with a Tiger tank. I want to call him a dirty prick for stealing the Sheep I needed, I want to call my wife a name that in ANY other context would get me CRUCIFIED, and I want to yell "FUCK! and laugh out loud when all the cubes come out of the Battle Tower showing green. To me, that's the whole point of playing, not sitting down and playing a cordial game with strangers. To each their own, but I'd rather be with my friends playing games than some random dudes at a convention. A lot of gamers like it, but it's not for me and I certainly understand a newbie's apprehension in doing it.

I guess by telling me that videogamers are "fat, arrogant punks" and board gamers are great family men means...well I have no idea what your point is, but you're welcome to it.

Of course there are people that play videogames who are arrogant clowns. Those people come in all walks of life. Fat ones, too. Even skinny ones. Some are even FEMALE. The difference is if I'm playing a game over Xbox Live with one of them, I can quit and find a new game in 2 minutes and never see the person again.

bill abner said...

Don't get me started on videogame conventions, particularly the CPL crap. (Gamers are athletes like strawberry ice cream is a fruit.)

I have to attend them from time to time for my job, and you will get no argument from me.

Jack Hill said...

Crap. Riotgrrl says that we got creepy when we started venturing into middle age?

Admittedly, Sandi and I noticed totally surreal behavior even form our 20 year old peers when I was younger. She'd go to the Atlanta Fantasy Fair and... acquire stalkers.

As to the games this crowd plays, the problem is that we've drifted far from the play games every month or so into the couple of times a week.

In defense of Space Crusade the larger squads is kind of fun, and the Dreadnought expansion is freaking brutal. Surely the hardest Dungeon crawl game ever made.

riotgrrl said...

I'm actually in college... but there's a surprising lack of interest in board games in NYC on the whole. The entire Manhattan area has literally only two board game stores, and one is mostly for CCGs. The borough where I live doesn't have a single store, so it usually means ordering online for me.

As for colleges, my college certainly doesn't have a club. I believe that Columbia Law does, but that's so far away that it's not worth the trek.

Not creepy... but there have been incidents before where a perfect stranger asked me to travel two hours away to game at his house. And he offered to pick me up. At a random location. And he was well aware that I was 17 at the time. SKETCHY.

As for the whole video game/board game thing, I find that the VG hobby has a tremendous amount of jerks, but a lot of those jerks are around my age range. It's surprisingly a lot more comforting to be surrounded by your peers instead of people of your parent's generation. And the fact that most of you are men is a little unsettling. And the fact that I happen to look 13 probably makes it worse.

So no conventions for me, but it's been an uphill battle to introduce people to board games. Especially in my age range. FFG could be making buckets of money off my demographic, it's just sad that they haven't taken that step to advertise more.

Even advertisements in video game magazines would go a LONG way.

adrianbolt said...

I think the advice to riotgrrl re going to cons with friends is spot on. The last one I went to (years ago) was organised by the Oxford game club I was going to. The benefit was that I could taylor the player mix, for example, to a pair I already knew and a pair of strangers. Basically I hedged my bets: meeting some new players whilst still knowing I'd have an enjoyable game. Works well if you'll play anything, not so well if you're after a specific game.

It's understandable that that you'd feel a lot more comfortable around your peers. But jerks are jerks. Stick a notice up and try to start a college boardgame group, after a while you'll know enough good gamers to organise game nights at home. Some of the other posters here have multiple and/or dusty copies of Space Crusade; maybe they could donate them to a fledgling game club? (Make sure you get Mission Dreadnaught too, it's always fun to see the relief when the Marines have destroyed the Dreadnaught. Then you hit them with the second one.)

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

My Dreadnaughts arrived in a poor state ... and I can't paint to save myself .... oh, the misery.

Rliyen said...

My Dreadnaughts arrived in a poor state ... and I can't paint to save myself .... oh, the misery.

I still haven't gotten around finishing painting my SOTC/FOTC/BB minis, not to mention my WH40k armies.

I have measured my life in GW acrylic paint pots.

arichbourg said...

Michael, you should write a column for The Onion. Maybe a follow up on "Space Hulk".

mtlawson said...

Not creepy... but there have been incidents before where a perfect stranger asked me to travel two hours away to game at his house. And he offered to pick me up. At a random location. And he was well aware that I was 17 at the time. SKETCHY.

I think I'd call that creepy. Especially the fact that he knew you were 17 and that you'd be without transportation. I may have been on the Net a long time, but I've never thought of trying the meeting a perfect stranger part. Too many potentially bad variables.

Have you tried posting on a board around campus? Another possibility is to try an RPG site (like penandpapergames.com) that hooks people up for games and check to see if there are any people close to you that way.

--Mike L.

Pat H said...

I'd start with that one board game store (There is a thread on BGG discussing NYC gaming).

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1676234

Maybe talk to the stiffs that work there and see who has what going on and where etc...

Failing that just pack it in and head to Pacha on a Saturday night.

NeonPeon said...

The Compleat Strategist is a good NYC store - I work in Midtown so I checked it out one day. Great selection but very expensive compared to what I'm used to, i.e. online retailers. They had Twilight Struggle for something like $52 for instance. They have gaming sessions at nights - I've never attended one.

Every day I walk past the Hallmark Store at Madison and 50th (I think) and they have a whole bunch of games on display in the window. Too bad they're utter shit like "24: the Game" and "Sequence for Kids".

I'm not really surprised that our type of board gaming isn't more prevalent...

Ken B. said...

Holy crap, do NOT get into a car with a stranger offering to drive you two hours to some ubersecret gaming location. I'm sure you're aware having made the right choice, but that is advice that should be etched in stone and displayed everywhere that's appropriate.

I don't know what it is, man...if a girl is a gamer, suddenly every guy at the table assumes they have a shot with her (despite the fact that they are absolute luckless Romeos all the rest of the time). Like a girl is going to say, "Wow! You game? Marry me!"


Because, y'know, finding a male gamer is SO difficult, you're just the chap she's been desperately searching for!


I've sat in on many games where a girl is present and suddenly a couple of the guys at the table become Don Juan and can barely concentrate on the game...barely concealed innuendo, trying to edge ever so closer to her chair, stealing glances down her shirt...the funniest I think is when the guy becomes her ardent defender and gets angry at the others for attacking her...


"Why, thank you for keeping Blue and Red from attacking me all game! However could I repay you?!"



Life is not like a bad porn. Be responsible.


And if you are someone wanting a 17-year old girl to game with your group, invite her but let her provide her own transportation AND make it at a public place like a game store or something.

StephenAvery said...

It's too busy being meshed into Puerto Rico to be known far and wide as My Little Pony Rancher.

they already have my little Pony Rancher...its called Hacienda.

Michael, you should write a column for The Onion. Maybe a follow up on "Space Hulk".

As much as I love older games (and I do love them - I spend an hour or so every night rolling in old wargames and AH classics) I think it would behoove authors of this blog to focus on in print games to help those coming into the hobby. Poor Riotgrrl is going to be hard pressed to find an afordable copy of Spacehulk though there are some newish games that are going to give you excellent AT game experience.

Steve"WhineyAss"Avery

"Queue MB parroting my verbage..."

Pat H said...

I agree - enough of the "remember this great game" stuff. We should focus on Thaadd's next project:

"Conquest of Rikter 7"

mtlawson said...

Life is not like a bad porn. Be responsible.

Wasn't that an episode of Friends?

--Mike L.

RiotGrrl (Christine) said...

There's actually one other person that I know of at my campus that games. Other than that... yeah. It's an absolute bitch to create any sort of club at my school. Takes about a year for the constitution to go in, or anything like that. As a result, there are literally no sort of recreational clubs at all. It's one of the major things I dislike about my school - every single club/organization is built upon programming or ethnicity/cultural/belief structures. And it's hellishly annoying.

I'll probably eventually pop into The Compleat Strategist, eventually. I know that NYU has a games club (but from what I've seen on their web pages, they play pretty damn mainstream stuff), and Columbia's Law School does (but that's a hike and I'm a lazy bitch).

And yeah, I was totally not going to get in that car. I don't care if he was being sincere or not.

Most of my gaming experiences come from the limited time I've played on BSW and the very few real encounters I've had IRL with me friends. Sad, I know, but true.

I don't fit into that whole "geek" persona. If I was like, "OMG GUYZ LET'S PLAY BOARD GAMES!!1" to my friends I think they'd look at me as if I had five heads. Especially if I pulled out something about Renaissance pig herders, or something like that. My boyfriend and I have dubbed ourselves "cool nerds," or individuals that can function in society at a normal level while maintaining a sort of nerdy aura. Or something like that.

In order to make teens get into games, you need to make those games COOL. And FFG has done a pretty damn good job of that - StarCraft could sell SO many more copies if they took more initiative. My Settlers of Catan copy has never been played. Why do you think? I'm embarrassed to even drag that godforsaken fugly box out. Look at Carcassonne! So RIVETING in design choice. Yeah, teens are superficial. Which is why Euros don't work (except for stuff that is so absurd that people just laugh through the entire game: i.e. Bohnanza).

And yeah, I have to agree with Steve and Pat about the design of the blog. Keep it simple. It's in a much more mainstream venue then BGG and F:AT will ever be in, and people there sure as hell won't be tracking down Space Crusade. The ToI review was a good choice.

As for the whole male/female gamer dynamic that Ken mentioned, it's really, really irritating. I worked at GameStop last summer, and obviously most of the people that shop there are male. They approached me three ways: 1. hitting on me an expecting me to hit back ("Girls as pretty as you usually aren't in stores like this...") 2. Trying to stare down my shirt while I searched through the stacks of used games, and 3. Extremely sexist comments (One memorable customer saw me working the counter, and just passed me by, saying, "You don't know a single thing about games." He approached my manager to ask a question, and my manager was livid about the statement. I was probably the most knowledgeable person in the entire store!) Fortunately, most of the male gamers (talking in video game terms) that I surround myself with are pretty laid-back.

I'm rambling now, but it's great to get all of this steam and frustration out to a more understanding community.

- Christine

Ken B. said...

Oh, totally sister, we hear you.


Say, could you lean over there and grab that stack of used games for me?

mtlawson said...

Is all that to create a formal club, or just to post and say "hey, if people are interested in X, let's meet at XXX Hall on XXX night"? IIRC, when we used to game back at UD, we'd just commandeer a room in the student union or find an empty classroom.

Okay, I'm curious enough now; is it CUNY or Queens College?

--Mike L.

Michael Barnes said...

Riotgrrl- everything you wrote needs to be read and apprehended by pretty much everyone working in the board game publishing industry...it's what I've been saying all along. As much as I love FFG, I do think they limit themselves by marketing to the hobby so much when their games- regardless of how big, long, or complex they are- have definite mainstream appeal. Growing up in the 80s, I can tell you that I never worried about those factors when I saw a cool looking game in the store- I bought it, learned to play it, and taught it to friends. Likewise, if a game like STARCRAFT were available in a mainstream venue, it'd pull in A LOT of people.

And conventions...the problem is you get hundreds or thousands of people who have no real personality because they define themselves by whatever marginal popular culture sources they choose to define themselves with- hobby games, FIREFLY, anime (which I still hold is almost completely by, for, and about pedophiles), whatever. Throw these folks into a blender and take out all social skills, sense of dignity, self-awareness, and personal ambition and you've got 75% of the attendees at any given gaming, fantasy, or science fiction event. I love going to events like that because I know where my "niche" is and I've been doing it since I was 15 years old...but if I were 20-25 years old and just getting into gaming I can see walking into something like Dragon Con and being fucking revolted by the "con scum" there and never returning.

Back to the column...I like bringing up old games because I think it's important for new folks to understand that this stuff didn't come out of nowhere and that old games are still worth playing...yeah, some folks are going to balk at hunting down something like SPACE CRUSADE but there's a lot of people that would really dig it, and for those people (you know who you are) the payoff in reading an article that brings them a bigger awareness outside of whatever "shiny" new junk keeps popping up on the front page of the Leading Board Game Site is huge.

It's been interesting over the past several years in music how with the rise of MP3s and on-demand music that catalog artists- not just new, pop sensation type artists- are enjoying more exposure and popularity- across demographics. There's no reason someone that really loves DESCENT or DOOM wouldn't love SPACE CRUSADE, and I find it rewarding to point the way- or even just to rap on how much I like it.

Michael Barnes said...

Wow, crap writing...the point I was trying to make about music is that board games very much have a "cult of the new" where new and popular all too often takes precedence over the old...sure, there's a lot of love and appreciation out there for old games but current articles, posts, and reviews tend to be about new stuff. One of the things Bill actually asked me to do was to review some older stuff since everything new tends to be over-covered elsewhere. I agree.

bill abner said...

I see nothing wrong with taking a column every now and then to discuss old(er) games. I don't even think it's important if people go out and hunt down a copy. Getting a better understanding of the history of any hobby is a good thing.

I'd even be in favor of a Top 20 of All Time column because A) those are usually fun and easy reads and B) they're great debate columns. I know I don't agree with the top 20 games on BGG. Not by a long shot. Doesn't make my opinion right, but it's healthy to debate that sort of thing.

Videogame sites do this all the time because people actually like talking about that stuff. I see no reason why the same wouldn't be true for boardgames.

So yeah, retrospectives, in general are a good thing if they provide some balance to the rest of the columns.

simon said...

Michael, I bet one of your next "games i like" articles will include Dune, so make sure to point out to those videogamers, that this game can actually be had for the computer and it's even abandonware, which means it's free and legal to download from several of the pages where it is offered.

Dune the computer game is exactly like the boardgame; the same goes for Advanced Civilization and the latter even has an excellent AI to play against solo. Otherwise there's the old PBEM system to be used, which is integrated in both games.

simon said...

So for anyone interested in a Dune emulation for the computer, this can be found here for example:

the-underdogs.info Link

Mike said...

anime (which I still hold is almost completely by, for, and about pedophiles

I can't believe I actually agree with you about something.

But, just to clarify: is Voltron getting lumped into "Anime"?, because then I'd have to disagree. And I'm talking about the orignal Voltron not the goofy show with the lions.

Rliyen said...

anime (which I still hold is almost completely by, for, and about pedophiles)

Now you're just falling into the anime version of con scum. It's not for pedos, albeit you take a look a the titles and you'd come to that tenuous connection. You're painting with a pretty broad brush there.

Just like with regular movies, they have niches. Most of the stuff I like is pretty vanilla: Record of Lodoss War, Fist of the North Star, Cowboy Bebop (love the theme), Voltron... to name just a few.

krizman said...

I've loved reading riotgrrl's comments on the boardgaming community...and the gaming community in general.

I grew up playing board games and RPGs with my brother and a few friends in the neighborhood...we were all fairly well adjusted and could function in society.

When I went to college in 1997, I tried much of the advice here to put out flyers and such to find some gamers...and only got a few responses from some very annoying people. One was into LARPing and showed up in costume...it was painful. After setting up this "Gamer's Club" thing myself, I was the first person to abandon it and never return after that first day.

krizman said...

I'm sure its possible to form a decent club in this way, but in my experience its best to just focus on your circle of friends and try to get them into the games you like. If you need more people, get them to invite a friend or coworker they think might be interested. Playing in a more public place like a bar or coffee shop will occasionally draw regular people and connect you to more people who have similar interests (but can handle the real world as well). It also draws the ubergeeks but you can usually just ignore them. Of course I'm a male so that makes it easier I think.

Now let me just go ahead and say that I'm not against antisocial people in any way, in fact I prefer them most of the time. I've been involved in all kinds of anti-social behavior, from punk rock to dungeons and dragons to Socialist/Anarchist party meetings. But gamers, and RPGers especially...I don't know what it is. I guess what is most annoying is when an antisocial person has a god-like complex of superiority over those that have less knowledge than him in his narrow hobby. Or start taking games a little too seriously.

Anyway, riotgrrl your comments are spot on.

riotgrrl (christine) said...

I wasn't expecting such an overt response to my comments, and frankly, I'm shocked.

You see, like most of the ATers have felt somewhat marginalized in the mainstream boardgame circles, I, too, have felt that marginalization. Perhaps even worse so, since in my demographic there are very few gamers. And in my city especially, there are few hardcore gamers of my age. It's sort of pushed me out of a hobby that I've wanted to be a part of for the longest time.

Boardgames for me have been the absolute guiltiest pleasure. I've only recently attempted to introduce my friends into them, since it is so niche and underground. Nobody really seems to get it. And it's frustrating. Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that I was born into the completely wrong generation.

If I introduce my friends into the hobby, their only comfortable source of information would be me. Honestly, a lot of things about BGG makes me uncomfortable. BSW makes me uncomfortable. That's why I wish that FFG and DoW would advertise more. At least there'd be a basis for me to introduce people to games. As it stands now, there is no such basis. Teenagers and young adults are a skeptical bunch. Who the hell would want to play an obsolete thing like a boardgame about StarCraft when you could just play the PC game? You have to give incentive to the newer generation to join the hobby, or else board games will die out past Monopoly, Candyland, and for the fortunate few, Risk (yes, I'd say about 90% of my friends have never played Risk. A few had never even heard of it).

The guidelines that I stated about starting up a club at my school were the official club rules. Of course, impromptu meetings of informal clubs could be held on campus and such, but it really is difficult to seek people out. Since I feel so uncomfortable and uncertain about my hobby (due to mainstream marginalization of younger board game player), I'm not really confident enough to "out" myself on my little board game obsession.

The college is Fordham, btw. :P

As for the column, Michael, I totally applaud you for even attempting to reach out to an audience that most people wouldn't even consider. When I read your blog posts a few months back about the whole youth ideas you had, I couldn't believe how true so much of it rang to me.

I can definitely understand showcasing older games. Being a retro videogamer myself, I have absolutely no qualms with it. I myself enjoyed reading about Space Crusade, a game that I would have known nothing about if it were not for F:AT. Although I highly doubt I'd ever play it (since I get to play literally nothing), it's interesting to read about a game that was pretty damn influential and forgotten in the hobby.

What might be a good idea would be to do an entire piece on Eon, that way you'd be able to link the upcoming reprints to the older, more classic games. Parallel reviews between old and new games of a similar variety and genre would probably be interesting as well.

Rambling again. I can't help it. I haven't been this honestly vocal about my feelings on the community, my age, and how it all makes me feel in quite some time.

- Christine

Rliyen said...

Rambling again. I can't help it. I haven't been this honestly vocal about my feelings on the community, my age, and how it all makes me feel in quite some time.

Welcome home, riotgrrl

StephenAvery said...

Too Bad you're not down here in the ATL Riotgrrrl. We have several younger women who game with us. Some of them are quite vicious.

(That's right- I'm looking at you Elizabeth!)

Steve"weasleboy"Avery