Friday, 30 November 2007

The Weekly AT Snapshot, 11/30/07--Now with 100% More Games About Dull Professions!






"Cubicula where you have to work in a cubicle making white cubes (paper) into grey cubes (reports) then give them to impress your boss for VP's! This 8 hours (not including playing overtime) allows you to experience the life of an office worker! Optimize your grey cube delivery for the best score! "



Today's image and write-up come to us courtesy of Geert Heijnen, aka LilRed. Thanks!

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46 comments:

J de said...

The best way to get a desk near the window, is to pick the Process Manager and produce lots of red kubes (red tape). Later in the game you can exchange your red kubes for coloured kubes from other players!

Wilhelm Lumbergh said...

Gutentag Peter, wat ist happening? Ummmmm, jaaaaaaa, ich am going to need du to go ahead and come in on Samstag, mkay? We're behind on our Holzkubus quota and need to play catch up. So if you could come in on Samstag that would be üüüüüüüüüüber, mkay? Danke.

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

Dieses ist mein roter stromlinienförmiger Hefter

Thaadd said...

Actually, what that reminds me of is the Dilbert board game, which is very silly, and quite fun.

Last time I played with some work friends, one of the designers (Kevin) refused to let us play with the 'everyone has to take off their pants' card. Meh. Some people.

I think I had some masterplan of adapting it to look like FFG, but that smacked of work... Hmm. Going to need to bug people to bring that to gamesnight again soon.

mtlawson said...

That's not entirely accurate.

You create grey cubes (reports) which give to your boss. VPs are assigned when your boss takes your grey cubes to his boss during the personnel review phase, and then based on the amount of cubes you are assigned a percentage of VPs. However, the total number of VPs available is determined by the players playing a card and combining the effects.

--Mike L.

Malloc said...


Last time I played with some work friends, one of the designers (Kevin) refused to let us play with the 'everyone has to take off their pants' card. Meh. Some people.


you guys wear pants are work?


-M

Michael Barnes said...

OMG this looks like the most amazing game! I hear it REALLY FEELS LIKE working in an office, not just exchanging cubes for VPs!

Juniper said...

I just ordered my copy. Woohoo! Let's get make sure this reaches 750 preorders before Christmas!!!

NeonPeon said...

The box art looks too silly and lego-like. You need an angry CEO standing with his arms folded or pointing at you, scowling...His towering corporate building looming in the background.

Juniper said...

The box art looks too silly and lego-like. You need an angry CEO standing with his arms folded or pointing at you, scowling...His towering corporate building looming in the background.

You mean like this?

Michael Barnes said...

Nah...something more Durer-like. There's way too much excitement in that picture for Eurogamers.

I just read this article over at BGN by Yehuda...he argues that games aren't supposed to be fun.

I quit.

Hando said...

Hallo, i am Hando, the publisher of Cubicula. I have spent much time trying to get Cubicula released in America and you have undermined my negotiations with this prank and these rude comments. I hope you all pass away at a boardgaming convention eating mouthfuls of your mothers' shite.

Thaadd said...

Link?

Juniper said...

GAMES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUN

They are, however, supposed to be brown.

Shellhead said...

Ah Z-Man... I met Zev at GenCon years ago, and he seems like a nice guy. He was involved with the creation of a neat White Wolf rpg called Orpheus, and I think he playtested the second edition of Rage. Most importantly, Zev rescued the excellent Shadowfist CCG from limbo.

Since then, Z-Man games has really jumped on the Euro bandwagon. And they no longer publish Shadowfist, leaving that to a group of hardcore fans who recently released the new Critical Shift base set that has been sitting around for years.

Someday, I hope that Zev regains that AmeriTrash spirit that guided his early work, and finally publishes a Shadowfist boardgame. It could be the most kickass AmeriTrash experience ever.

bobby_5150 said...

Games aren't supposed to be fun?
And people listen to this nimrod?

Shellhead said...

My theory is that Berlinger went through a nasty divorce and lost custody of his inner child. How else to explain his bizarre belief that games aren't supposed to be fun?

Of course games should be fun. Otherwise, Berlinger's definition of games as "interactive activity bound by rules and with one or more goals present at any time" sounds very much like an unpaid job. And who wants that?

The very essence of playing a game is the pursuit of fun, albeit within the boundaries of a given set of rules. Berlinger can assert that games are actually an artform, but his assertion lacks evidence. His denial of fun makes him seem like a pompous pseudointellectual.

Ryan said...

Re: Games are not supposed to be fun

a) I've always hated the pomposity of some hobbyists who try to pass a hobby/recreation off as "art." Games can (and should) have artistic flourishes and games can (and often should) be expressive. But, first and foremost, games are toys to be played. Any game that is designed to be artistic rather than fun is going to inherently be a shitty game that I will not play.

b) I'd rather watch Big Trouble in Little China than an Ingmar Bergman snorefest any day of the fucking week.

Juniper said...

Actually, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA was directed by Ingmar Bergman.

Michael Barnes said...

There's any number of problems with his argument, chief among them being this asinine assumption that games are somehow not an entertainment medium.

I do believe that games have artistic flourishes (pointing at Ryan) and can even evoke certain moods, atmospheres, and concepts. Hell, I'll even buy that everybody has a different concept of what "fun" is- I like rolling dice and punching vampires, somebody else gets their rocks off on the corn strategy and bidding 3 to beat someone else's 1. But to suggest that games aren't supposed to be fun has got to be absolutely the bottom-of-the-barrel, most idiotic thing I've ever read in the history of board game writing. It's just psuedo-intellectual, self-important claptrap that tries to recontextualize a frivolous, trivial hobby into something more significant than it ever could or should be.

It's like saying that film isn't "supposed" to be a visual medium or that telling a joke isn't "supposed" to be funny.

Games are, always have been, and always will be a form of amusement. I'm shocked that he actually hit the post button on that one. Even more shocked that people aren't on there calling bullshit.

NeonPeon said...

Hahaha...I give Yehuda props for having the balls to say that.

But I think Merriam-Webster's #1 definition is better:
"activity engaged in for diversion or amusement"

Ryan said...

Nerdlinger reminds me of David Cross's character in the second half of this short Mr. Show sketch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCumH8LRo1A

Shellhead said...

Berlinger is probably ashamed that he has "fun" while playing games. So this article is a transparent effort by him to elevate games to art, just so his art snob friends will stop teasing him with their snide, passive-aggressive jokes.

Juniper said...

Hando?

james griffith said...

I would have thought reading the blog post would have been the most depressing thought on the state of "gamers". Then I read the comments.....

This is pathetic. I think a framed copy of that post needs to go into explaining on why people have issues with eurogames.... eurogamers with holy than thou complexes. (Chapel excluded...of course) It reminds me why I love movies but despise the majority of people I've ever met who claim to love movies.

Michael Barnes said...

It's just like people in film school...when I was in it, there were always these people going on and on about these crap indie films and "high minded" fare that they likely watch because there's this assumption that film school folks have superior taste and better judgment about film quality. They do it to validate what they're doing and what they're interested in, which is essentially watching a lot of movies and trying to get into an industry where you're paid to make non-essential entertainment products.

Just like with Yoohoodoo's post, he's trying to validate what he spends probably a large part of his free time doing, thinking about, spending his money on, and concerning himself with. The sad truth is that games are more frivolous and trivial than any other medium- but they are a medium nonetheless.

The Eurosnoots (there's that word again) do this all the time. They just won't come to terms with the fact that what they're doing is fundamentally the same exact thing that somebody playing BOGGLE is doing or a kid playing CANDYLAND is doing. They want to hold "their games", or "These Games of Ours" as they used to call them, to a different and higher standard. People like Yuda that take games seriously are one of the reasons, if not the ultimate reason, why gaming will never ever, under any circumstances, be a mainstream hobby.

NO ONE makes games with anything other than fun, entertainment, and amusement first on their agenda. Sure, games can and do have meaning and even more discrete qualities such as political agendas, symbolism, meaning, educational value, emotional engagement, and metaphor. But eventually it goes back to the "board games can't scare you" concept. Some things games just can't and probably shouldn't do because it's not the appropriate medium. Part of that is because games, as a medium, are essentially limited in what they can convey since so much of their success or failure depends on a case-by-case basis. Players execute the rules of games so it's in an entirely different universe than film, music, or art where we are presented with a complete piece of work that has much broader potential for expression. Games are largely about _us_ either completing or providing the expressions the designer hopes the game will generate. If the designer doesn't want you to have fun first and foremost, then you're not playing a game. It's _not_ a semantic argument and it's not subjective. It's just empirical truth, and if you're playing games or you're in this hobby for any other reason than to have fun then you've got your head up your ass.

Jeez...I could go on and on about this all day...seriously, I've never read anything stupider in all my years of gaming.

That guy on BGG that said RED PLANET was a better science fiction picture than 2001 comes pretty close though.

Shellhead said...

James,

Why are you giving Chapel a free pass? Here's his comment on that Berlinger article:

"I like this article, it shows I’m not the only one that believes that entertainment has different meaning for different people. I don’t always watch movies/read books to feed the pleasure portions of my brain, but to think and learn. Just as I don’t always play games to always feed the pleasure portions of my brain. I like certain games for just dumb fun, to laugh, snicker, and blow stuff up. While another large portion of the games I enjoy because they make me think and push my analytical ability to make choices that are successful and learn from those choices.

"But this whole “Games must be Fun” motto is really a misnomer.

"Posted by Michael Chapel on 11/30 at 10:16 AM"

His specific comments seem to be in disagreement with Berlinger, up until that final remark. Games must be fun is a misnomer?

NeonPeon said...

I like thinking, planning and analyzing as much as the next guy, but in the end the game has to be pleasurable. If it feels like I just finished a final exam at the end of a game, it just sucks.

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

What really bugs me about that article is that he's essentially condescending the entire medium and everyone associated with it in his haughty attempts to elevate it to match his own dry, humourless sensibilities. He's not saying that Euros have got it right (unless he's referring to recent releases that, "until now," didn't get that they shouldn't try to be fun). He's saying that nobody's got it right, except him:

Are there any artists using games as their medium? The answer is extremely disappointing because until now, even artists have tried to make their games fun and successful in order to attract people to play with them; because, until now, everyone has been hampered by the idea that games have to be “fun”.

Well thanks for finally showing us simpletons the light. Please direct me to the nearest boardgame museum so I can see their majesty (but not play them, of course).

james griffith said...

I was only giving Chapel a free pass based on his posting history (and to rile him up from his slumber). His comment on that post notwithstanding, he seems to get that the fact that games are fun, talking about games is fun, and pissing & moaning about games is fun.

People can debate all they want on the role of art and what it actually is. Artistic design is part of game design without a doubt. However, I doubt anyone has reached any self-realization or enlightment from a boardgame. If they have, then I'm sorry for them.

Juniper said...

Meh. It's boring academic conjecture about a possible approach to game design. He doesn't even try to make his argument concrete by offering examples of existing games that were designed according to this approach. Nor does he speculate about the sorts of games that might arise if this philosophy were widespread.

He had the seed of an interesting idea for a column, but he didn't develop the idea in any interesting direction. His essay reads like the kinds of things that stoned teenagers say.

Isn't it true that many wargames have been created to demonstrate a point about history, or to test the likelihood of an alternative, ahistorical outcome of a crucial strategic decision? Would these be examples of the sort of game that he has in mind? I don't know, (and maybe he doesn't either) because his idea is not sufficiently elaborated.

It's not an interesting article, but I can't say that I am particularly dismayed by it, either. More frustrating was the article that you get when you click the "Next entry" link on that page. It's a review of CUBA that consists mostly in a detailed but intensely dull summary of the rules. The reviewer reserves his opinion of the game to the last paragraph:

The influences of several games—most notably Pillars of the Earth, Caylus and Puerto Rico—are clearly evident in Cuba. Indeed, it is difficult to find anything significantly new in the design.... Whether one needs another game of that breed in their collection is a matter of choice that some will answer in the affirmative, while others will decline. For now, I fall on the “affirmative” side of this question.

Thanks for nothing, reviewer. The fucking rulebook is available on the publisher's website, so I don't need you to summarize the rules. Your job -- and yes, I'm going to shout this -- is to TELL ME HOW YOU FELT ABOUT THE GAME. Did you do that? No. No you fucking did not.

A humble request to anyone reading this who considers himself or herself to be a game reviewer: decide on a point of view. When you write your review, your point of view should be evident in every paragraph that you write. The review should be -- above all -- fun to read. It should be interesting even to those who have already played or purchased the game.

Here's my review of CUBA. I have never played CUBA. I probably never will. Nonetheless, I claim that my review is better, more intelligent, and more informative than the one I cited above.

CUBA review
by Juniper the Little White Puppy,
aged 9 months.

Imagine a foreign economy in which the dominant industry involves the production of indistinguishible brown boxes. Imagine that, in this industry, the manufacturers are principally concerned with the logistics of acquiring raw materials, assembling the finished goods, and arranging to ship the finished goods to America. It's assumed that other real world considerations -- such as the quality of the finished product, or the necessity of finding customers to buy these products -- are unimportant or trivially easy to address, since America is a ravenous and uncritical consumer of these brown boxes. If a brown box is placed onto a freight ship, for example, the subsequent sale of that brown box is treated as a fait accompli.

Now imagine that this industry has produced a new boardgame called CUBA. It's recommended for 2-5 players of age 10 or higher. The side of the box says that the game can be played in about 2 hours, but you should assume that's a minimum rather than a maximum until everyone in your secret underground "boardgaming as performance art" artists' collective is familiar with the rules.

The board is attractive, but you already know that because you've been looking at the photos on BGG all day when you should have been debugging that logic error in your Java code. The rulebook is similarly attractive. Go read it. I can wait.

Back? OK. Here's the part of the review that should be in red text:

Do you already own CAYLUS, PUERTO RICO, and PILLARS OF THE EARTH?

If so, then you're going to buy the game no matter what I say, right?

Do you already own some, but not all of those games?

Then play them. Give your 40 bucks to charity. There are starving children in the world, y'know? If you're so damn interested in the economics of small Carribean countries, send the money to Haiti.

Do you own none of those games, and are you trying to decide which one to get?

I'd like to help you, but I must confess that I cannot, having never played the game. What we're talking about is "a matter of choice that some will answer in the affirmative, while others will decline [sic]."

Michael Barnes said...

God damn you Juniper, I've been thinking about posting a review of a game I've never played for months now just to see how close I can get to it...

I read that review too...completely fucking worthless. But you know, most board gamers don't have feelings because they either had them beaten out of their little hearts in middle school or they're too fucking analytic to have real human emotions.

Jolo said...

I think where Mr Berlinger misses the point is that games are not "art", they are instead designed to teach (like Candyland, or Rich Dad, Poor Dad) or to entertain, or to make the consumer consume them (not eat, just purchase).

Do game designers, like artists, have a need to create? I don't know, but I do know that game designers want people to purchase their games, not just to admire them in a store. I think he is looking at games as form rather then function where we here view them both as needed. I want my game to look good but I want it to play good too.

vandemonium said...

Man Juniper, why are you pulling the pants down on Cuba? Do you enjoy being a bully? How can you rate a game you haven't even played? I am dismayed and...wait a minute...is this some sort of a joke? It is isn't it? *whew* for a minute there I thought you were serious!

MWChapel said...

"But this whole “Games must be Fun” motto is really a misnomer.

"Posted by Michael Chapel on 11/30 at 10:16 AM"

"His specific comments seem to be in disagreement with Berlinger, up until that final remark. Games must be fun is a misnomer?"

The misnomer part is that games MUST be fun. Games can also be an exercise, like running. I hate running, but I've done 3 marathons. Why? Because it exceeds my capabilities. Games don not "always" need to be an escape or a stress reliever, or just dumb fun. They CAN be. And to a lot of people they are. But Games offer much more than just basic entertainment.This is why you find euros dry and mathematical, well because they are used as a tool for other reasons for other people.

So no games don't not HAVE to be fun. Which is what I believe Yehuda was getting at.

Southernman said...

I think what makes Mr Berlinger's post so unbelievable is that Tom Vasel completely pulverizes it ... how fucking non-human does that make Yehuda and his autonomon followers.

As mentioned by quite a few above, fun can be different things for different people ... but they are still having fun in their own little world.

-Johnny- said...

Games aren't art, they're entertainment.

mtlawson said...

I'm all for enriching your life by reading great books and seeing great plays/films/whatnot, but if you don't enjoy playing games, then why bother? That's why it's called a game, and not a job or work.

If Yehuda wants to stop calling it games and instead refer to it as an activity, then fine. But when you say games shouldn't be fun, then why are you playing them? The whole purpose of the term "game" is for leisure, amusement and fun.

I suppose that's why some people joke about people taking games such as Go, Chess or ASL way too seriously and say that they aren't really games, but lifestyles. If you're looking for enlightenment, stop calling them games and start calling them something else.

--Mike L.

Mr Skeletor said...

Next article: How Super Mario Galaxy isn't really a "fun game", but rather a powerful critisim on the human condition.

Mr Zir said...

"Games shouldn't be fun" is one of the most ridicules statements I have ever heard. People spend billions every year on computer-, video- and boardgames because they want an activity? "Not I," said the fat little pig. If you play a game simply to pass the time doing something that doesn't bore you to death, that's just dandy. Saying that more than a small minority of gamers believe that, even if for only some of the time, is another matter.

bobby_5150 said...

I read Greg's "Review" of CUBA on BGN. Have i been smoking to much crack, or did Greg say he was getting CUBA not because it offers anything new to his play, but because it's like every other game he likes and plays right now.

wnorris said...

Anything chosen as a hobby is chosen for entertainment, enjoyment, fun, etc. Even if its done as a mental exercise, its done because of the enjoyment of the activity, otherwise we would all be solving complex calculus equations and taking SAT tests every weekend (is there anyone out there that does that for fun for real???). Gamers like games, even mentally challenging games, because of the fun factor. Thats the point.

I certainly understand that we all have our own ideas of fun. I like to read history books. I think most of them would be very dull and boring and irrelavent to the average person, but it stimulates my brain in a way I find enjoyable. On the other hand, how someone can read a romance novel and actually LIKE it is beyond me. We each have fun in our own way. Even with careers, most of us pick something that we like or find an aspect of it that is enjoyable. In everything we do, we try to find the up side, the fun side. Its human nature.

Since games are not a necessity of life (or are they??) the bottom line is we play them because we like them. And we like them because they are entertaining. Otherwise why put so much effort into designing a whole package with theme, art work, variety of play, good/balanced mechanics, etc.? The designers could just strip each game down to minimalistic bits, abstract game boards, and mathmatical rules for us to solve, but for the vast majority of people that would be NO FUN!

So to say that fun is not the point of playing games is ridiculous. Every aspect of a game is designed at least in theory(setting aside the economic and business realities of game production) to heighten the enjoyability of it in one way or another. Proof of the pudding is the educational game. Why make a game out of learning stuff unless the point is to make learning boring crap fun?

Well, thats my rant on the subject. Who's turn is it next?

Juniper said...

A game made out of cheese, THAT would be ART!

Liumas said...

This is already a REAL GAME.

See "Cube Farm",
by James Ernest,
Cheapass Games.