Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Game is Kaput

Kaput is one of those few German words that I did not need to learn after I arrived in Germany. Like Gesundheit, kaput has a firm place in the American vocabulary, although I remember it being used with children more than in serious, "adult" situations  ("Awe, your toy is kaput" rather than, "Yes, sir, I think that it's the alternator that is kaput").

In gaming groups and hobby forums, the word's English equivalent seems to be popular in describing many new games:  broken.  Apparently, if we are to believe public opinion, a good portion of new releases just do not work.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

POSTCARD FROM BERLIN #56: Lecturing on Game Design at the Technical University

I've finally finished translating my guest lecture from last October at Berlin's Technical University for it's first year architecture students.  I've posted the lecture, along with photos from the presentation and from the student's work, as my latest Postcard From Berlin on the Opinionated Gamers website.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oscars....for Board Games?

Germany's prestigious Game of the Year award was announced today in Berlin.  The international buzz surrounding the event demonstrates that Germany is still the axis around which the gaming world turns, even when innovation in board game design has spread to other countries--including the Czech Republic and Finland.  In fact, a German game designer has not won the main award since 2008.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Based on a True Story

Historical themes have been a part of games for some time.  They run the gamut from detailed simulations to themes that are "pasted-on" superficially in order to make the rules more memorable.

It is interesting, once again, to compare the medium to the film industry, where historical themes also turn up in a variety of ways.  In movie theaters, we can, for example, watch a documentary that is often very true to life.  Then there are the films that are based on a true story.  And finally, there are those that  can only claim to be "inspired by a true story."

In board game design, war games have the most similarity to documentaries.  Their main purpose is to reenact a particular battle or war, and the details are important, even if it means pages of rules to remember.

Then there are Euro games which try to capture the flavor of a particular historical setting, such as building up the island of Puerto Rico or the routes of Germany's early horse-drawn postal service.  Most Euros, however, abstract the theme to such a degree, that the historical content would fall into the "inspired by a true story" category.

Is this such a bad thing?