Notes on Board Games

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15 May 2019 17:22 #297117 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic Notes on Board Games
I dunno, the notion that playing Castles of Burgundy is, in the end, a way to defy one's incipient mortality is either humor that's a little too subtle for me (entirely possible), or the silliest goddamn thing I've read in a good long while.
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16 May 2019 09:39 #297144 by Joebot
Replied by Joebot on topic Notes on Board Games

ubarose wrote: Was I the only one who was tickled and delighted by this article? Was it not intended be funny? Did I miss something? Am I supposed to be upset by it? I don't understand.


Same. I thought it was funny, off-beat, and delightfully weird. The reaction to it in this forum has me totally baffled.
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16 May 2019 09:52 #297146 by ubarose
Replied by ubarose on topic Notes on Board Games
@Joebot & GG

Thanks. So glad to know I am not the only one.

Also, I am often baffled by this forum.

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16 May 2019 16:10 #297181 by jason10mm
Replied by jason10mm on topic Notes on Board Games
Wow, when I think about "navel gazing" this article will be my new reference point. But I can kind of cull some sense of meaning, mostly because it has a "throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks" approach. But really, the author presents as a white male (in the photo), so is he really the one to be deriding the industry for it's demographics or choice of game topics? Any actual Indians complaining about Gandhi-as-game? And as for only cis hetero men being into war, Alexander the Great might beg to differ. Conflict is the core of drama, and conflict is the core of abstracted rulesets used as simulation, be it war, westward expansion, economic 18XX, or Chess.

And BTW, Chutes and Ladders is an activity, not a game. Literally not a single choice to be made in the game, unless gaming how hard to flick the spinner constitutes "gaming". As an allegory for spiritual enlightenment....well, I kinda like that. One Dante's Inferno C&L skin, coming up!
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16 May 2019 21:13 #297195 by Sevej
Replied by Sevej on topic Notes on Board Games
It's ok, but as I commented on FB, a bit too crazy for me! Fun read though.

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17 May 2019 17:41 #297235 by Anjou Valentine

ubarose wrote: @Joebot & GG]Also, I am often baffled by this forum.


No shit - you authorized and defended "Are Competitive Men a Board Gaming Blight?".

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17 May 2019 19:03 #297237 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic Notes on Board Games
I just want to mention that the image of James Earl Jones holding a copy of Gloomhaven is a throwback to the earliest days of this web site, where no television star was immune to having his photo pressed into service. Don't know who came up with that one, but bravo.
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18 May 2019 02:48 #297254 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Notes on Board Games

jason10mm wrote: And BTW, Chutes and Ladders is an activity, not a game. Literally not a single choice to be made in the game, unless gaming how hard to flick the spinner constitutes "gaming".

Chutes and Ladders is a game, like Bingo or LCR. Having choices is not a requisite for games to be games, all that is required are win or lose conditions.

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18 May 2019 10:47 #297260 by JonathanVolk
Replied by JonathanVolk on topic Notes on Board Games
Anjou Valentine wrote,

No shit - you authorized and defended "Are Competitive Men a Board Gaming Blight?".


Can I hold that little stick for you, bud? You seem tired. If men in this hobby can’t even play at entertaining conversations about power and the dissonance between this hobby’s demographics and our nation’s, well, what do we do besides grouse and jab with our little sticks?

The constant insistence from some folks that games aren’t culture, and that culture has no place in our thinking about games, is so revealing: one, because it demotes games to mechanistic trifles, when they could be something far more important; two, it creates this blood/brain barrier in the discourse, to get people’s blood hot while shutting down critical thinking systems.

I want to add to the Required Reading List Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels; she wrote in the New York Times just the other day: “Power is a story told by women. For centuries, men have colonized storytelling. That era is over.”

Besides being the best, most page-turny novels I’ve read in years, the Ferrante novels capture the experience of growing up and surviving in a world where power is distributed so unevenly. If I’m bending over backwards to not get more specific about that power distribution, to not say “women” and “men” and “patriarchy”, that’s because I fear some folks would explode in this thread.

Women and nonbinary folk are coming to the table too. This hobby really needs broader perspectives—an admission that games are of course cultural, for one, but also that women and nonbinary folk and other marginalized populations deserve to be seen as equal players.
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18 May 2019 20:27 #297270 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Notes on Board Games

JonathanVolk wrote: Women and nonbinary folk are coming to the table too. This hobby really needs broader perspectives—an admission that games are of course cultural, for one, but also that women and nonbinary folk and other marginalized populations deserve to be seen as equal players.


Oh are we playing the label game? Cool. Listen to the non-white, bi, child of immigrants. Your work does not become immune to criticism no matter how many labels you claim to represent. If you want to talk about our issues write an article that's focused on it.
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18 May 2019 20:36 #297272 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic Notes on Board Games
Remarkable how quickly replacements arrive.

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20 May 2019 09:38 #297322 by JonathanVolk
Replied by JonathanVolk on topic Notes on Board Games

Oh are we playing the label game? Cool. Listen to the non-white, bi, child of immigrants. Your work does not become immune to criticism no matter how many labels you claim to represent. If you want to talk about our issues write an article that's focused on it


You’ve caught me in a dangerous place: with the semester over, and avoiding other important writing projects, I am looking for distractions.

So I’ll engage one last time in good faith, though I’m genuinely not certain you’re willing to do the same.

Here’re the points I’ve discerned from this thread:
  1. Our readership prefers articles about games as games to articles about games as culture
  2. The whole “depicting violence ennobles it” convo has been settled
  3. There’s no content in this article to engage
  4. Volk is writing for Volk
  5. Volk wants to look smart
  6. Language and thinking don’t evolve—e.g., “yas queen” doesn’t make sense to me, and the Internet is just a nexus of wrong
  7. Volk is playing the identity politics card, which I can do too, though I won’t—though whether or not the status quo in a place like this is representative of an identity, well, shut the fuck up and roll them dice!

What am I missing?

1: Enuff said here
2: I know Andy wants to return to this debate, and we’ve discussed writing a larger piece about war games, and my guess is that we will be the ones to finally settle it here on TWBG, case closed gumshoes
3: I mean, at the very least some folks appreciate my photoshopping
4: Fine
5: Sure, but it was my hope that writing dumb Pokemon jokes in my last piece with Andy might run me some smart kid credit for a bit
6a: If nothing else, this thread gave me the joy of GG explaining “yas queen” to a bunch of dudes
6b: And I wanna gloss on GG’s reading—chess is awesome in that it makes a woman the most powerful player, but it still manages to make her secondary to the king; you have to wonder what forward-thinking ancient played themselves into that corner.
7: Identity is inseparable from writing, from the games we play, etc., I think, at least it is for me, and the kinds of games ~I~ play; understanding our identities, and how they intersect with each other, seems like it could be so useful for everyone, especially when it comes to play, which requires real, granular, difficult cooperation. Unless you really do just want to annihilate the person across from you at the table.
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20 May 2019 10:52 #297340 by GorillaGrody
Replied by GorillaGrody on topic Notes on Board Games
I hope you keep writing here JV. I'll take long articles with actual outside references and queries over "is kickstarter good check box yes/no/get to the point" any time.
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20 May 2019 11:12 #297344 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Notes on Board Games

JonathanVolk wrote:

Oh are we playing the label game? Cool. Listen to the non-white, bi, child of immigrants. Your work does not become immune to criticism no matter how many labels you claim to represent. If you want to talk about our issues write an article that's focused on it


You’ve caught me in a dangerous place: with the semester over, and avoiding other important writing projects, I am looking for distractions.

So I’ll engage one last time in good faith, though I’m genuinely not certain you’re willing to do the same.

Here’re the points I’ve discerned from this thread:
  1. Our readership prefers articles about games as games to articles about games as culture
  2. The whole “depicting violence ennobles it” convo has been settled
  3. There’s no content in this article to engage
  4. Volk is writing for Volk
  5. Volk wants to look smart
  6. Language and thinking don’t evolve—e.g., “yas queen” doesn’t make sense to me, and the Internet is just a nexus of wrong
  7. Volk is playing the identity politics card, which I can do too, though I won’t—though whether or not the status quo in a place like this is representative of an identity, well, shut the fuck up and roll them dice!

What am I missing?

1: Enuff said here
2: I know Andy wants to return to this debate, and we’ve discussed writing a larger piece about war games, and my guess is that we will be the ones to finally settle it here on TWBG, case closed gumshoes
3: I mean, at the very least some folks appreciate my photoshopping
4: Fine
5: Sure, but it was my hope that writing dumb Pokemon jokes in my last piece with Andy might run me some smart kid credit for a bit
6a: If nothing else, this thread gave me the joy of GG explaining “yas queen” to a bunch of dudes
6b: And I wanna gloss on GG’s reading—chess is awesome in that it makes a woman the most powerful player, but it still manages to make her secondary to the king; you have to wonder what forward-thinking ancient played themselves into that corner.
7: Identity is inseparable from writing, from the games we play, etc., I think, at least it is for me, and the kinds of games ~I~ play; understanding our identities, and how they intersect with each other, seems like it could be so useful for everyone, especially when it comes to play, which requires real, granular, difficult cooperation. Unless you really do just want to annihilate the person across from you at the table.


You can try to attribute bad faith to me if you want. I actually think we agree on more than we disagree. I just didn't like the piece, and not for all of the same reasons as other folks here have said. It's not a personal attack unless you view calling it self-indulgent as such. As I said before, writing any opinion piece is inherently self-indulgent so I don't think that's a problem.

Based on your articles and your responses here, I think you and I view the games we play and consume differently on a fundamental level. I view them similarly to films, books, etc. in that I try to look at authorial/designer intent and determine whether or not they succeeded at their aims, using other games as a comparison point. I think play is fascinating in and of itself and does not require a segue into non-game topics in order to be relevant, interesting, or tell the stories/messages they're trying to tell. There are definitely games that have something to say on real life issues, designers that bring new perspectives, etc., but a game in and of itself is still worthy. I get the impression that your goal is to "elevate" board game discussion by creating additional connections. I don't think they need to be, because they're already there. Granted it's the minority of content and I'd like to see more, but there is so much great material out there on the topics that you brushed past here. Dig into these topics. I want to see what you actually think, not just that you think about them.

Credit where credit's due by the way, the fact that this thread contains a dissection of "yas queen" is fucking hilarious.
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20 May 2019 11:43 #297348 by jason10mm
Replied by jason10mm on topic Notes on Board Games

JonathanVolk wrote:

6b: And I wanna gloss on GG’s reading—chess is awesome in that it makes a woman the most powerful player, but it still manages to make her secondary to the king; you have to wonder what forward-thinking ancient played themselves into that corner.
7: Identity is inseparable from writing, from the games we play, etc., I think, at least it is for me, and the kinds of games ~I~ play; understanding our identities, and how they intersect with each other, seems like it could be so useful for everyone, especially when it comes to play, which requires real, granular, difficult cooperation. Unless you really do just want to annihilate the person across from you at the table.


I dunno dude, I think you are reading WAY too far into things and painting connections that just aren't there. There is no underlying commentary about royal politics in Chess, it is just good game play fundamentals. The Queen being a powerful piece but not the key to defeating the opponent is what makes that piece INTERESTING. You are free to risk it, but if you lose it then the game becomes much harder. The skin of feudal Europe or whatever laid on to chess is paper thin. If you gender-swapped the Queen into a powerful king piece protecting the pregnant queen (hence her low mobility) does it say anything different about the game? I suspect to you it would, you could craft an entire narrative of gender suppression and white knighting filled with nonsensical statements like that "Men have colonized storytelling" bit you quoted earlier (what does that even MEAN for chrissakes? colonized storytelling? A translation error from Italian or something?). But it would still just be the same abstract chess game underneath it all, devoid of actual meaning unless we work to inject some into it.

But games do have narrative, dramatic effort, and stir up conflict. At least the good games do. Make the players choose between helping themselves or limiting an opponent, giving up a short term advantage for a long term bonus. But even the most sterile abstract can be shoehorned into a distasteful narrative or an uplifting one if you choose to see it that way.

You make it sound like POC and women have no ability to create their own games. There are entire cultures with their own games, go check some out. Granted, the comparatively lush, over-produced, lavish games we have today are a by-product of surplus wealth and time but hey, it is what it is. Heck, most of our games probably derived their base mechanics from those same other cultures. Just because Asmodee is run by old white dudes (I guess?) doesn't mean the entire game industry serves that one demographic. But they often serve a specific demographic that they have learned to extract money from very well.

So rather than bemoan how cis hetero white guys are refusing to play with their toys, how about spotlight some alternatives and explain why we should care?

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