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Links: Board Games in Mainstream Media, Giant Letters in a Stadium & Beer in a Lecturer

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• The history of Monopoly might not be a surprise to BGGers, but for those who aren't aware of the game's predecessor – Elizabeth Magie's The Landlord's Game – or how Henry George's philosophical belief that people should pay the state rent for land they owned influenced Magie, check out Christopher Ketcham's article "Monopoly Is Theft" on the Harper's Magazine blog. Ketcham intertwines events at the 25th Annual Corporate Monopoly Tournament in Pittsburgh into the larger story of how the game evolved over time. An excerpt:

[Adam] Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing – the land was already there – and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.

• In early October 2012, Derek Thompson at MeepleTown published an interview with Touko Tahkokallio, designer of the highly-rated Eclipse and its follow-up Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients, who unbeknownst to me designs mobile games for a day job.

• On Nov. 12, 2012, The Los Angeles Times published a general interest "Hey, board games still exist" article from Todd Martens (with the article actually being titled "Board games are growing in popularity again"), and the piece featured the usual suspects of such articles (Ticket to Ride, The Settlers of Catan) while also including quotes from Nathan McNair from Pandasaurus Games, Chris Kirkman from Dice Hate Me Games, and Matt Leacock – who for some reason is quoted about his experience self-publishing Lunatix Loop while not being credited with Pandemic, which is mentioned as one of the titles "having fueled the table-top renaissance". Interesting tidbits from the article: "Days of Wonder spends about $20,000 simply to develop a game" and Ticket to Ride "has worldwide sales of 'several hundred thousand units per year'", according to DoW co-founder Eric Hautemont.

• Trent at The Board Game Family details Out of the Box Publishing's attempt to set a world record for "most people playing a word game" by having thousands of football fans play Word on the Street simultaneously during halftime at a BYU/Idaho football game in Provo, Utah. In the normal game, a player or team is presented with a category, names something in that category, then moves the consonant tiles used in that word toward their side of the board. Unsurprisingly that approach to gameplay doesn't work in a football stadium. Here's what they did instead:

Out of the Box created nine-foot square vinyl letters and set them up on the football field. The spectators (now participants) were split into two teams – the north half of the stand versus the south half. The questions were shown on the jumbo screens with three possible answers that the teams were to cheer for their favorite choice. Then the cheerleaders on the field would move the letter tiles according to the word.

And the questions that were used were created specifically for this event with responses being submitted prior to the event from Out of the Box fans around the world. They were all BYU-related such as "Name a BYU Quarterback" or "Favorite Ice Cream Flavor at the BYU Creamery".

• Quinns from Shut Up & Sit Down gave a fun and impassioned forty-minute talk at the UK video game festival GameCity on why modern board games are awesome and why video gamers – in particular video game designers – should be paying attention to what's going on with modern board game design.

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