Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Salesman Against Unbridled Consumerism

The title of this post sounds contradictory, I know. But lately I've been feeling the contradiction as I've tried to sell my own game ideas to publishers, while at the same time, trying to cut back on my own tendencies towards consuming and accumulating stuff.

Maybe it's the whole Occupy... thing that is making me feel like an activist (although that is not necessarily the type of protest movement I would join, as it does not seem to have any clear direction). Or, perhaps, it's the proposed origins of the burgeoning boardgame market in the German protest movements of the 70's and 80's, as I wrote about earlier.  Now, Germany is the epicenter of the worldwide (albeit somewhat underground) gaming movement, and arguably the main reason that there are so many other boardgame publishers in other countries today. It's almost as ironic as George Lucas starting out as the most successful independent film maker of all time, only to become the very kind of corporation he had once loathed--not to mention becoming the catalyst for the current, soulless, Hollywood blockbuster mentality.

In the boardgame industry, publishers are currently flooding the market with many games that are increasingly similar. On one hand, it is a golden opportunity for beginning game designers, as the number of publishers to which they can pitch their ideas has multiplied. On the other hand, though, once a game is published, it is so much more quickly forgotten, and I've seen this even happen to the more innovative releases.

But what I am much more concerned about is avoiding a more personal dichotomy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gaining an Appreciation by Doing

The next months will be filled with opportunities to watch big soccer  games on television (that's football, of course, to everyone outside the U.S.).  Tonight was the Tournament of Germany Championship, in a couple of weeks Bayern Munich will play for the European Club Championship, and next month, the national team will compete in the European Championships.

I've actually played quite a bit of Fußball the past two years, thanks to an informal neighborhood group of men who invited me to join them for a couple of hours every Sunday night.  I was even able to get a gym for us to play in during the winter months.  It has given me the chance to get better at a sport that probably would have been my favorite growing up, had I been given the opportunity.

And now that I've had the opportunity to play the game regularly, I can appreciate even more the skill and athleticism exhibited by the professionals I watch on television (although I still think they are sissies for flopping on the ground as much as they do). It's the same with just about any other sport or activity:  once you've attempted to do it yourself, it is much more interesting to watch it as a spectator.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

RESEARCH...or, playing through my collection

Just as it is important to be well-read if you wish to become a good writer, it is also important to play plenty of games if you want to become a good game designer.  When I was first exposed to the hobby--and before I tried designing my own games as an adult--this was not a problem.  There were many gaming groups in Berlin to give me the opportunities, my wife and I did not yet have children, and every game from the past twenty years was new to us.  I also found plenty of classic German games at department store clearance sales and in neighborhood flea markets, and wasted no time snatching them up for the chance to finally try them and catch up with the rest of the hobby.

While I now enjoy designing games just as much as playing them, it has reduced the amount of time I have had to actually play published games.  The collection I've amassed has unfortunately collected too much dust, as my focus has usually been testing prototypes and getting a few plays of a handful of new releases.  You can see all the games from my collection that I have not tried in my online BGG collection: they are marked with a "want to play" comment.

Last year, however, I decided to change that.  At the biweekly game night that I host, I made the resolution to play at least two older games from my collection that I have not yet been able to try.  It has worked out wonderfully, as I've often been able to get three or more of those games out in a single evening.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

POSTCARD FROM BERLIN #54: Gathering Every Week

My latest article in the "Postcard From Berlin" series is up on the Opinionated Gamers website.  In it, I discuss how I am no longer jealous of week-long gaming binges, and quite content to pace myself...