If you’re a regular reader of CMON’s Feature Friday, it probably means you’re a bit of a board game geek. In fact, you’re likely a bit proud of that label. Being a geek has long ago stopped being a pejorative term, and has morphed into a badge of honor of sorts. Today, we encourage people to let their geek flag fly. However, being an expert on a subject can cause people to form some pretty strong opinions, and when strong opinions are formed, sometimes snobbery is not far behind.
For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, we’re taking a look at some of the most common board gaming things that we tend to turn our noses up at, and approach them from a new perspective.
Experienced gamers may look at a gateway game with a bit of disdain, or at the very least suspicion. The term refers to games that work as an introduction to the sorts of mechanics and experiences that modern games can offer. When you have a friend who tells you they love board games, then lists off a bunch of titles that first appeared before color television, you might be a little apprehensive to teach them Lorenzo il Magnifico. Gateways are a great way to help prepare people for the leap into strategic gaming without overloading them with information and forever turning them off of the hobby. However, by their very nature, they can be considered lighter fare by hardcore gamers, unworthy of their attention. While you may not want to spend your entire game night playing them, there are a few reasons to consider allowing gateway games to hit the table every once in a while. Not every gamer is going to want a brainburner every time they play. Some people will want to play something lighter. If you’re the most accomplished gamer at the table, you have a bit of a responsibility to grow the tribe and indulge in a gateway. And we haven’t even mentioned the best reason to play gateway games: they’re awesome! Gateways can turn a newb into a lifelong gamer for a reason. They’re tons of fun, highly addictive, and they distill our favorite parts of gaming into easily digestible portions. Even you had to be initiated into the hobby, and there was probably a gateway game behind it. Keep that in mind next time someone suggests getting one out to play.
For some, gaming is about exercising their brains and showing off just how smart they can be. They may look at dexterity games as being a waste of their superior intellect. While dexterity games do exercise different muscles than the brain, they can still take a lot of planning and intelligence to play well. More than that though, is the fact that dexterity games are fun! Whether you’re building a tower, or scooping eggs out of a dish, or trying to carefully pull out a stick without disturbing the rest, dexterity games are thrilling for both the active player and the other participants. Even if you stink at them (like I do), you can have a blast playing them. I put zero pressure on myself when a dexterity game hits the table and just commit to enjoying the experience. I may expect to lose, but I have fun while losing. Dexterity games tap into the youthful joy of building stuff up and tearing them down.
There was a time when a game based on a pre-existing intellectual property was bound to be terrible. Too often, publishers took advantage of the built-in audience to rush out a game that didn’t do the source material justice. However, as board games have begun to have more sophisticated designs, so too have licensed games. Designers are now jumping at the opportunity to create titles based on influential books, movies, shows, comics, and more. In recent years, CMON published a number of licensed games, including The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire, Bloodborne: The Card Game, and Gateway: Uprising, with plans for many more titles coming out next year such as A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game, Kick-Ass, and HATE. Licensed games should no longer carry the stigma of being slapdash efforts to cash in on a popular theme. Much more time is being put in to these titles in an attempt to do justice to the source material.
Just because you’re a game expert doesn’t make you a snob. But whenever we know a lot about a subject, we have a tendency to form strong (and occasionally dismissive) opinions about aspects within it. You can fight being a snob by keeping things in perspective. Remember that not everyone is going to be as experienced as you. Even if they are, they may have different opinions and tastes than you do. Be open-minded to new and different experiences. The more you are, the more others will be towards you. Board game culture is, generally speaking, very welcoming. Let’s make sure we fight the good fight and keep it that way.