Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Orwell, Huxley, Goebbels… and Kickstarter

There’s a catchy new rant over on Fortress Ameritrash: Consumerism, Criticism, And The Bernays Effect On The Board Game Industry. You know, I maybe share a disdain for the archetypal hard core board gamer that comes back from Essen every year with a pile of the latest games and hardly plays any of them. If one happens to come out on the table he’ll almost always say one of ten Board Game Geek approved smears: “the theme is just painted on.” Or something like that. I can rant about those dudes with the best, I’d hope, but I really would’t go so far as to dig up my old Neil Postman books to put them down. Hey, they dig games, they collect them, and… uh… they like games and stuff. I like games, too! Can’t we all just get along…?

But, yeah, here’s everything you need to know about board games:

  1. If you haven’t played it five times, you are probably doing something crucial wrong. You will only find this out if you read the rule book very carefully cover to cover, but in some cases you will actually have to sit down with someone that is smarter or different than you and they will immediately see the issue when you probably never would!
  2. You won’t truly grasp the flow and the tempo and the nuances of the game until you’ve played it twenty-five times. However, if you play it that much you probably won’t want to see it again.
  3. There are a hand full of of games that are truly worth fifty or more plays, but nobody wants to talk about that.

So the obvious thing from this is that you should go play an unplayed game that’s in your collection instead of buying a new one and you shouldn’t buy expansions for any games until you’ve played them at least ten times each. But If you have an attitude like that, buying a new game is a real commitment that soon turns into work. And that isn’t any fun…! Why are we doing this again…?

One thing I’ve noticed is that spending money on games is not the way to find out what you like. You need to go play games to do that. And everyone’s different, too. I have games on my shelf that are mostly not getting a lot of love and then someone suddenly shows up on my doorstep and one of those old games turns out to be just the thing! It’s like… for any given relationship, there is a perfect game out there for the two of you…. A moderately eclectic collection can demonstrate that time and again.

As far as all of this hype machine stuff goes, hopefully I score a pass with my blogging. The vast majority of my posts are about games that are out of print. A lot of the games I write about were made by companies that don’t exist anymore. And I have given some “meh” reviews over the past while. Hopefully I’m being a good steward of my bandwidth. But, yeah, I mostly try to talk about the things I think that are cool instead of aggressively slagging stuff all the time, it’s true. Outside of a select group of truly discerning gamers, not too many people read my stuff here. No one cares about my deep insights. But I’ve noticed… one surefire way to get people talking about my writing is… wait for it… to write a truly epic rant! (That thing you sense all of a sudden… it’s called irony.)

It seems like Kickstarter is causing a fuss a lot lately. Should I be afraid? Meh. You know… really… the people that made the truly great games of the twentieth century… they’re all doing other things now, for the most part. In some cases, I am very happy to see these people back in the game. To the extent that Kickstarter allows old school games to bypass the usual gatekeepers that decide what gets made and what goes on the store shelves, I am all for it. Maybe there is some sketchy stuff going on, but it sure seems like there’s stuff happening that I really want that just wasn’t happening in the previous decade. So just put down the orbital mind control lasers and back away slowly….

Lighten up, Francis.

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9 responses to “Orwell, Huxley, Goebbels… and Kickstarter

  1. Bill July 8, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Thanks, that was a pretty interesting article.

  2. Brendan July 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

    All three points hold for tabletop RPGs too, probably.

    And books, actually. I have the bad habit of buying books faster than I can read them.

    • jeffro July 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Actually, rpg’s are totally different. I need at least $200 worth of physical books just to even think about starting a campaign. From there, I will need another $100 for PDF’s… and if I actually start running the game then I not only need the complete canon available to me, but I also have to do some original research before I can feel comfortable about it.

      Rpg’s are totally different.

      • Brendan July 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

        Why is a free Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, or Lamentations of the Flame Princess PDF not enough?

        Or, if you want to play a mainstream commercial game, I don’t know of a single system that can’t be played with only the core book (or core book set), which will run from $20 – $100 depending on the system in question. I suppose one could make the argument that an example module is also required, though core books often contain one of those.

      • jeffro July 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        (I am lampooning myself– that is actually what I do when I start an rpg, though. I want to know the complete history behind every rules development…. And I have to have first-hand accounts of how it was played in previous decades– it’s essential.)

      • Brendan July 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        Gotcha. My irony and humor detection system is absurdly poor.

  3. Runeslinger July 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Sgt. Hulka’s guide to gaming? Sign me up.

    I hope taking these ideas to heart will make me a lean, mean gaming machine!

  4. Karl Gallagher July 10, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Interesting rant, though it’s focused at a level of gaming intensity that I only see on the few times I’ve shown up to BGG.con. I am amused that he discusses Kickstarter as something taken over by gaming publishers and then links to an article showing that boardgames are an insignificant part of KS’s total volume.

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