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A Seat at the Table: Serious Games
GorillaGrody wrote: In as much as Bay is a former art-school student who has a weird, cerebral approach to surface-level cinematic technique and an obsession with not totally convincing political platforms, I've often called Michael Bay the Jean-Luc Godard that America deserves.
For your enjoyment:
After TableTop a whole new population opened up that was experiencing and seeking out modern board games for the first time. With no direct reference point, he said they treated them like movies and music, that is to say "disposable entertainment." They didn't come into his stores asking for the best games. They came in asking for the latest and hottest games. He said he created "New Release" displays in his stores for the first time after TableTop debuted. (At least a little ironic as TableTop seemed to generally split its episodes between the new (shooting-adjusted) hotness and games solidly in the modern canon or of particular interest to Wheaton.)
Of course, both media are what you put into them. You can go to the theater a few times a year to catch the event films and award winners just to be a part of the zeitgeist and talk about them with your friends. You can play Acquire every night for a year and continually discover nuances to its strategy or just play your latest $200 Kickstarter pledge twice before the next one arrives. In any case, I think this gives some context from an industry professional into what we're seeing these days.
Anyway, it seems like so many gamers construct their wobbly identities out of equally wobbly shelves stuffed with games (and I say this as someone with a seriously wobbly identity) (and I also long to one day own bookcases that don’t wobble). I feel as if we’ve already talked about this phenomenon here, where video “reviewers” appear with enormous game libraries in the wooly, out-of-focus background. It’s like that erudite dude from the Mouseterpiece Theater, assuring us we’re about to get seriously moused.
But unlike books, if the gamer decides his life has become oppressively stuffy, and wants to get rid of a game without throwing it to the curb, he has to go to his local game store, if he even has one, and wait as they assess and count up his bad decisions. Imagine having to watch that same crank used bookseller count every page of the Dan Brown novel you swear was a gift from your uncle. We’d probably just decide to be buried with all our shit, like some minor King Tut.
1) Is Gloomhaven the "best" boardgame of all time?
For a start, this is a ridiculous premise. There is no one "best film" of all time. Different people have different preferences, and to use your film critic analogy, not all film critics agree on what is the "best" film, and most "average" film goers probably wouldn't agree with what critics think is the "best". In essence, you're arguing a point of ridiculousness. Different games suit different people and different scenarios. You're at home with your partner? Cool, you can play something like Santorini. You're out with a bunch of friends and want something fun and light? Great, codenames is the ticket. You want a co-operative fantasy campaign boardgame? Gloomhaven is an excellent choice. There isn't a single best boardgame of all time.
2) A rant about the validity of criticism by people who haven't experienced a form of entertainment.
You simultaneously seem to complain about other people doing this, but then you're doing it yourself here with criticism of Gloomhaven when you haven't played it. Board game criticism isn't the same as film criticism because it what is "fun" is a highly subjective concept. It's like video game reviewing, in that there are some elements that can be judged objectively (e.g. component quality), but when it comes down to mechanics, individual preferences are going to factor in so strongly that you can't simply take someone's word for whether something is or isn't fun, you have to make a decision while judging their review through the filtered lens of their bias. It's like knowing you disagree with certain film reviewers and so when they rave about a particular film and certain aspects, you know "okay, they love that film, but it's not for me".
3) Complexity doesn't equal fun.
Yes, BGG has a complexity bias. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could determine that. But you use this argument to present an alternative "best games" list, which as we've previously established, is ridiculous. Personally, I don't like some of the insanely complex games that are rated so highly on BGG, but conversely, I also find Pandemic (even the legacy variant) tedious and dull. So no, complexity doesn't necessarily equal fun, but it doesn't necessarily discount it either.
I think the craziest point is that late in the piece you seem to acknowledge that different people love different games (and different games are suited to different scenarios), yet you're still then railing against complexity like some authoritarian who is trying to argue that games can't be fun if they are complex.
Despite all your complaints, Gloomhaven is a good game. It simply wouldn't be so popular with so many people if it wasn't. Is it *your* kind of game? Without playing it you seem to have decided that it isn't. From reading/watching information on how it plays, you might certainly be able to make a reasoned decision on that, but to then seemingly make the jump to imply that it's not a "good" game, again, is ridiculous.
I'm glad you took the time to log on and comment, as I really enjoyed reading what you had to say. I think I agree with you.
It's interesting that you posted today, as the site has an article about Thurn and Taxis, which was the big hotness in 2006, but is mostly forgotten today.