9. Everyone thinks you play kids games
The basic premise, kids play games so games are for kids and that your serious game looks like a kids game doesn’t help. Sure kids play games (or at least they should, I think). Games teaches kids a lot of skills that are very useful in the grown up world, winning, losing (with grace), learning, improving, thinking ahead, planning, creating a strategy. The main flaw grown-ups make is thinking that they have learned all they need, or any further learning should be through boring courses, seminars or workshops, definitely NOT by playing games.
Now if you would respond to this criticism by challenging people, by asking “Are you not interested in learning new skills? Wouldn’t you like to have some fun while gaining knowledge?” Challenge them with a seemingly simple game like Quarto (from gigamic). Explained in less than a minute, but very hard to master. It will make your point very quickly. You can always talk about your advanced, complex board game later.
A short note about game art. It is true that a lot of game art has this childish (bright colours, simple images) or a juvenile charisma (lots of SciFy and fantasy artwork) that can put some people of. Let’s face it, if we want gaming to be taken seriously, maybe we should make our games look more serious. For example, I have recently backed Linkage on KickStarter. A fun card game about genetics with an educational twist and artwork that looks the part.
8. Everyone thinks your games are too complicated
True for a lot of games (although ‘too’ is a bit too much). This complexity can be a cool challenge for an experienced gamer, but an obstacle for a newbee. So start of with games that are easy to explain, like the above mentioned Quarto. These games show people that games can be simple, but not necessarily for (young) children.
And never let an interested person feel that he (or she) is ignorant because some fundamental game principle is not known to them. We all had to learn how to read a 1d4 dice once.
7. Rulebooks are terrible
Yep, they are (most of them), just like most instruction manuals, software guides, process descriptions or cookbooks. It is not a game thing, it is a communication thing. It simply is very difficult to write something like that down, it is much easier to explain it to someone. Why? Well if you explain something to get feedback that tells you want concepts are immediately clear and which are not. In writing you have to assume no single concept is known (which makes for very long documents) or know the expected knowledge level of the reader.
So in stead of emailing someone the rulebook and expect that that person struggles through it, why not take the time to teach the basics? Really take the time, not ten minutes prior to a gaming session while you unpack your brilliant scenario and set up the game table. Gaming is all about interaction (human interaction, that’s why tabletop games are more fun than computer games), so interact. Show why the rules are there, how you can use them and how you can have fun with them. Invest in a new bee gamer and have a friend for life.
And yes, we (game designers) should get our collective arses kicked for not putting more time in the manuals, not just the night before the deadline.
6. You never have time to play the games you want
Really? So you do not have the time to watch al seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’? You want to watch the latest Marvel movie, but you’re booked for the next three weeks? Really? I don’t think so!
Switch off the TV, sit down with a friend, your partner or relative and play a game. It really is that simple! Prioritise, that is all there is to it.
5. You can’t just veg out and play board games, you have to organize an event
Sure, for some games (Diplomacy, D&D, etc) planning an event is needed (and from time to time can be great fun), but there are plenty of really good games out there that are set up in less then 15 minutes. And for the number of players…
4. You never have the right number of players.
Make sure you have a collection of games that you like and have various (optimal) number of players. You have a party of five, great moment to bring out ’The Resistance’. Just the three of you, perhaps Ticket to Ride, or Carcassonne. Adapt what you are going to play to your party, not the other way around. And if you really, really want to play that particular game, that’s a good time to organise an event.
3. Other Players Ruin Everything
Correct, even worse, other people ruin everything, including my life, my career and my relationship, honestly.
But really, the whole idea of gaming is to have a fun time with a group of people. The more diverse the group of people is, the more fun you can have (and learn something from other people). Stop taking this thing so seriously (perhaps stop taking life so seriously) and allow yourself to have fun. Allow other people to have fun too.
When someone is playing the game completely wrong, you can also think “he, maybe he is trying out a radical new strategy”. When someone is taking too long to make a move, you can also think “She s taking this game very seriously”.
And if you are that annoyed with a player maybe you should ask yourself; Why is he your friend?
2. Components are a rip away from “bricking” your game
While this is true I do not see what this have to do with “why are board games awful”. It is true for anything that represents a set or a collection. Is a Jules Verne book collection awful because it is possible to rip out a page (or even a cover)?
If you have a friend who is kinda rough with your belongings, point out how much the game means to you and how careful you are with it.
And again, lighten up. The world doesn’t end because you lost a damage token to the vacuum cleaner.
1. You just got your Kickstarter game and the next day they announce the 2nd edition that fixes all the problems with yours
From the KickStarter web site:
“Backing a project is more than just giving someone money.
It’s supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world. People rally around their friends’ projects, fans support people they admire, and others simply come to Kickstarter to be inspired by new ideas.”
Read that? You help create something. You did NOT pay for some exclusive right. You should back a project on KickStarter because you want to see that game become a reality and you want to be involved. If you want to buy a game that has gone through all the development cycles and have all the kinks removed, go to a game show and buy the 2nd or 3rd edition of some game, don’t put your money on KickStarter.
Having said that, if you bring a project to KickStarter (or any other crowd funding platform) you should care of your backers. If updates are available, make them available to the people that made your project a reality, that is just the right thing.
Yes I do think Board Games are great! And I do also think that playing games can be fun for a lot more people than hardcore gamers.
To Jonathan “Wolfy” Wolf; I really enjoyed reading your blog and I hope you don’t mind me countering it with my ideas. And if you do, be prepared to meet me in battle, preferably set in a medieval world with 5th edition D&D rules and…