Blogs

Welcome to the main Blog page!

This section provides access to all blog posts in one list. You can go directly to the blog of interest by clicking the desired submenu.

All Posts

Kickstarter: A Source for Quality Games?

Author(s): 

Background

Previously I reported on some statistics for excellent games that have been published through Kickstarter and how Kickstarter has provided the opportunity for some new designers and publishers to launch successful game development companies. (Game Designers: Impressive First Impressions). One of the comments/criticisms that the article received was the common refrain, “Sure there are some Kickstarter successes, but just not many of them.”

Not one to stand by while anecdotes and opinion are used to substantiate claims, I dug into the Board Game Geek ratings for Kickstarted games compared to all games published in the years 2010-2014.

Game Designers: Impressive First Impressions

Author(s): 

Setup

I was listening to a recent podcast… Gino of the Talking Tinkerbots podcast mentioned his frustration with the caveat, or even caution, applied by reviewers about games or Kickstarter projects by first-time designers. The discussion caused me to think about some of the successes and failures of first-timers and to do a little research that might prove interesting. I understand the concern related to “unproven” designers or publishers, but appreciate the perspective that I think Gino was applying.

Not that this article is intended to be a logical argument, but in logical argumentation the problem Gino has pointed out is known as a Genetic Fallacy. Something is bad/good because of its origin.

It would be too easy to focus on the negative here: First-timer Kickstarters that funded but ultimately failed and games that didn’t meet gamer expectations, etc. or to defend first-timers by focusing on “known” designers and publishers failing on the same criteria. The fact is, examples of both are plentiful – I regretfully have some of each (first-timers and known designer/publishers) in my game collection as evidence.

Instead, I want to:

  1. Take a positive approach to first-timers and provide a few examples of “Impressive First Impressions.”
  2. Provide a few examples of the games by established designers that were their first or early designs.

So each player starts with a 3 x 3 grid of cards…

Author(s): 

Listening to a recent podcast, I heard that a certain game design contest had received quite a few entries for which “a 3 x 3 grid of cards” was a main feature. Those discussing this event sounded derisive to those designers who presented these designs. Now, maybe that was just my impression, but that impression was the seed for this blog post. So let’s take a look at “a 3 x 3 grid of cards” as a game feature. Note: I was not one of those designers entering the contest, so this is not a case of sour grapes; just an observation.

A Nickel’s Worth of Game Play

Author(s): 

Over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that playing a game 5 or more times has disproportionate significance in my distorted little world. First some background, though, before I can explain why.

Since I track my game plays on BoardGameGeek, it is easy and interesting for me to see which games meet those common gamer geek thresholds of nickels, dimes, and quarters (5, 10, and 25 plays). Of course, to do this, I also track my game collection. You can see what my game plays in 2014 were in my 2014 Review: Playin’ Games article.

All this tracking provides the, maybe regrettable, ability to see what games I have acquired and not played; what some call “The List” or “The Stack.” I might just be looking for excuses, but I think that “The List” for me is not horribly embarrassing – 11 games (excluding expansions – see, I am already looking for ways to make this look better), compared to my collection, 121 games (again excluding expansions) – right at 10%. Further justifying, I have had only 3 of those games in my collection since before Christmas 2014 (a notable benchmark since I received more games than I could play that day).

Mechanics Focus: Dexterity Games

Author(s): 

Definition

The BoardGameGeek Glossary defines Dexterity Game this way: n. A game where the major skill needed is a physical action, such as flicking (Crokinole), balance (Topple), or deft manipulation (Jenga).

General Appeal

Many people of all ages enjoy dexterity games and since they generally require skills that are not necessarily acquired with age, people of all ages can usually enjoy them together. Usually the “smarter” adults can’t stomp on the younger players just because they have more gaming experience. In fact, young players often have the dexterity necessary that can deteriorate with age, so in a dexterity game they may have the upper hand, as it were.

BoardGameHour Digest: Introduction

Author(s): 

As mentioned previously, I try to participate in the weekly BoardGameHour discussion. Since the “hour” of choice hits at noon in my time zone, I am usually able to attend. However, my office sees a fair amount of traffic and from noon to one I am first an employee and being a human interacting with the outside world comes second, so I often miss at least part of the hour.

Update 04-30-15: I can create these digests quickly for any BoardGameHour (within a day or two), but expressed to the Minister of Board Games that I would not openly post these digests without his blessing. So I am posting the ones I have created behind a login so they can be available upon request. If you would like to have access to these, simply request a login and mention the BoardGameHour as one of your interests. I will then let the  Minister of Board Games know that you have requested access. This way, if there is an interest we will know about it. Note: You can always go to Nurph and replay the event, but I find this to be tedious. Even if you participate in an event it is hard to follow all the conversations. The beauty of the digest is that it collects all posts into their respective conversations.

Genghis Con 2015

Author(s): 

Why Genghis Con?

I joined in the fun at Genghis Con for most of its 4 days last weekend. I live about an hour from where the con is held and it is not far from my office, so I stay at home instead of the hotel where it is held. I’m sure I am missing out on some of the con experience by doing so, but even with the long drive I probably stay fresher. This was my second time to attend, so I knew what to expect. Last year’s observations would have been more focused on finding out what the con was like, but that is lost to memory now. For 2015, here’s a brief summary of how I spent my long weekend.

Give Them the Right Tool

Author(s): 

In a couple recent articles on the League of Game Makers Seth Jaffe has made the point that “the designer should strive to ensure that a player cannot make a choice or series of choices that will lead them to a state where they’re not really playing anymore.” I agree whole-heartedly with Seth and encourage you to read his articles (“YOU’RE PLAYING WRONG!” – GOOD PLAY EXPERIENCE AND THE DESIGNER’S RESPONSIBILITY and “HEY, LOSER!” KEEPING PLAYERS ENGAGED, EVEN WHEN THEY’RE BEHIND). I have tried to cover similar ground in my article, Eliminating Player Elimination. Just as Seth has published a follow-up article to make his point clear (there were some who misinterpreted his intent), I’ll also add a few words more from an angle closer to Seth’s perspective (though, it is from my perspective also which some have described as other-worldly).

Pick A Player, Any Player

Author(s): 

Recently on another game design blog there was a debate about whether a designer should accommodate poor player decisions in the game design. Although it was not the topic of the original article, the discussion veered into new territory (as they often do). I pointed to my article Eliminating Player Elimination where one of my points is that the designer takes on a higher challenge and risk by keeping players in the game (rather than eliminating them) because those players need to be engaged in the game to the end. The idea that the designer is responsible for prompting this engagement was challenged by one of the commenters and, in particular, my light-hearted description of behaviors that bored losers will exhibit was criticized with the following. (Paraphrasing…)

Pages