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Subject: OBG 59: It's Classified rss

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Donald Dennis
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Erik, Donald, and Scott are joined by Jonathon Bishop and discuss the games on the iPod/iPad and classifying them.

Erik Takes 5 on expansions that fit in the original box
Erik reviews The Rivals of Catan
Erik once again does ExpansionPalooza



Blog Entry: http://onboardgames.libsyn.com/obg-059-it-s-classified
RSS Feed: http://onboardgames.libsyn.com/rss
Email us: onboardgames.net@gmail.com

Do you think games should be defined by medium, skills used, mechanisms, or whether batteries are required?
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Donald Dennis
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Nomenclature and Classification board games

I've taking to calling anything that gets played around the table a board game. When grasping for a rationale, I'm not referring to the components of the game, but rather referring to the table or board on which you play, ala Room & Board.

I don't really have a problem with saying e-board games either.

I guess the big thing is that there are many ways and reasons to classify board games in a certain structure. BGG classifies games by many elements including theme/topic, mechanism, or even designer.
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Magnus Esko
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Finally a thread!

Scott:
I still think your music game idea would be great in a digital form, like on an iPad.


Eric:
Have you been playing Costume Quest lately? It's an RPG where kids collect candy on halloween and their abilities changes depending on their costumes. It's a videogame with turn based battles (like Final Fanstasy). It's nice to have a design that doesn't require too much work to make a working prototype. And if the complexity is low it is so much easier to get things right. It's so much fun working with these kinds of games.


Classification:
I think a boardgame is a boardgame regardless of if it is played physicly or digitaly. An RPG is an RPG both when you sit at a table and roll dice and when you play it on your computer/console. There is a need for a term in English that describe physical games. In Swedish we have the term "sällskapsspel", it's a combination of the words "sällskap" (company, group, gathering of people) and "spel" (game). Sällskapsspel includes board games and card games. The term social game is already taken by the videogame industry.

The generall masses understands that Catan on an Xbox is a boardgame. Certain game mechanisms are expected from the term board game. If you make a Mario Bros boardgame it would play nothing like the videogame, but Catan as a videogame is still the same. Now, you could make a Catan videogame that take the same setting but plays nothing like a board game and it would no longer be a boardgame. Boardgames in digital form is a genre, just like FPS or RTS.

Civilization is nothing like a board game. Try the board game version and you'll see how different that is. But you could make a digital version of the Civ boardgame that plays exactly like the physical version.


Great episode as always guys!


I just want to add that I just played the first playtest of my space conquest game Empire, on 3 players. The game took us about 2 hours but we wanted a longer game and it turned out it would have been great as it was. I was amazed how well the game played for our first try. I got a lot of good feedback from my testers, they both really liked it but we all agreed on a few modifications. This game and Lords means I got two really good games to show in Essen this year.
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The failed playtest coverage was neat, and not just for the schadenfreude. I'm sure design stumbles happen all the time, but I don't often see/hear them reported beyond a note like "playtesters preferred...." That was a nice reminder that a reception of cheers, jeers, or chirping crickets might be expected in the development of any creative project.

Speaking of which, Scott, the drum idea sounds cool. Maybe it needs a bit of Morris-dancing-inspired movement for more player interaction?


How is it that Erik-in-fur-bikini pictures haven't been posted to the guild yet? When is the webcasters Sweeps Week?
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Ben Lott
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Well, I don't know if "dropped the ball" is too strong a term for this episode, but it mystifies me that you moved on from the electronic distractions so quickly. It felt like Donald just made his comment, everyone agreed, and so no more discussion was necessary. Maybe it's just me, maybe there's something wrong in my mindset, but I 100% disagree with Don.

Even if they are engaged during their turn, responsive if addressed outside of their turn, and ready to make their move when their turn rolls around (which is some kind of utopian dream that never happens in real life,) it is not acceptable for someone to mess around on their cell phone/iDoohickey/Computer/Etc. We're here to play a game together and when you engage that electronic device you are no longer engaged with the game you are playing. I like to play games for the social experience. When you disengage from that experience to text your girlfriend, check your e-mail, or even (and yes I've seen this several times) play an online game, you are ruining the social experience and making it more mechanical. This isn't even mentioning how distracting it can be for those who are active in the game while you fiddle around.

Ever since my father got a smart phone my Mom has been forced to declare the gaming table a "no-phone-zone." He constantly wants to look at something when it's not his turn and it gets frustrating for everyone else at the table. This is a real issue that has caused serious friction in more than one of my game groups, and you guys raced past it without giving it proper attention. Please re-address this at some point.
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Donald Dennis
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Blott wrote:
Maybe it's just me, maybe there's something wrong in my mindset, but I 100% disagree with Don.


Woohoo!

I probably shouldn't cheer someone disagreeing with me, but it's been that kind of a month.


A case could be made that since not everyone can multi-process at the same level of proficiency that perhaps everyone should stick to the game at hand, but I don't necessarily see the difference between someone playing with a phone, fiddling with the pieces, or knitting.

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Magnus Esko
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I agree with you Ben. Electronic devices should not be used at the game table. It's one thing when someone gets an important SMS or call. People should stay focused on the game or the group when playing board games. That's part of what makes board games such a great experience. People who don't look at the game just show others how uninterested they are in the game. I play board games because I like playing them, for me they are important.
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Donald Dennis
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I admit that there is probably a different quality to the phone than the other distractions, but what do you think the difference is.
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Walsfeo wrote:
I admit that there is probably a different quality to the phone than the other distractions, but what do you think the difference is.


A phone usually takes up all your focus, no matter what you do on it you pretty much shield of the rest of the world. This is because you are reading or doing something that requires you full attention. If you are playing around with your pieces it doesn't require as much focus.
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Magnus Esko
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On a different but just as good topic. I have figured out why I am so excited about my latest design. I love the theme and the mechanisms fully backs it up without getting in the way of the game. I have managed to squeeze so many aspects into the game and yet it is incredibly smooth and fast paced. And the updates makes it even simpler and faster without taking out anything important. I want to play it again and not do the same mistakes I did in the last game.
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Ben Lott
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Awakening wrote:
Walsfeo wrote:
I admit that there is probably a different quality to the phone than the other distractions, but what do you think the difference is.


A phone usually takes up all your focus, no matter what you do on it you pretty much shield of the rest of the world. This is because you are reading or doing something that requires you full attention. If you are playing around with your pieces it doesn't require as much focus.

Agreed. Fiddling with pieces doesn't engage your mind, it's just physical busy work that requires no mental attention. It's roughly equivalent to chewing gum. But the phone is delivering some type of information, and therefore requires some portion of your attention to process that information.

Now when does a physical activity cross the line from mindless activity to attention-grabbing distraction? I mean, you mentioned knitting, Don. While to the knitter that may seem like mindless activity, could it be seen as an attention-grabbing distraction by the other players? This is where the social contract comes into play again.
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Greggory Delman
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I know I've had a few conversations with knitters while they knitted away, so that activity doesn't have to be a complete attention drain. I totally agree that it's rude when people do absorbing activities when it's another's turn.

I once played a game of Munchkin (I know, I was giving it a shot) and there were five players. One person was practicing juggling, one was doodling, one was doing something else, we kept on having to interrupt them to tell them it was their turn. It was slow and painful, and not just because of the game itself.

It's funny, because sometimes people are so focused on the game that there is no conversation, just people wrapped in deep thought, even when it isn't their turn. It's ok then because it's focused around the game. Does people in this discussion not enjoy those types of games?
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wanloe wrote:
It's funny, because sometimes people are so focused on the game that there is no conversation, just people wrapped in deep thought, even when it isn't their turn. It's ok then because it's focused around the game. Does people in this discussion not enjoy those types of games?


I'm the type who prefers to just focus on the game but I usually don't mind when people start talking about other things. I don't like if it happens when I'm teaching the rules. Another thing is that I'm not known for being the fastest player, but people have a tendency to start talking to me when it's my turn, so I can't think.

Once I had a guy over who just never shut up, he talked non stop which was annoying. I've also played games of Twilight Imperium where one player was talking RPGs with someone not playing. Needless to say, that guy's turns took at least 3 times longer then they should.

If you know you have more talkative people coming over, start with a simpler game where talking works better. That way people can get all the talking out of their systems before your more serious games. I prefer to go out for some food and then talk, or just sit around talking after a game.
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Donald Dennis
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wanloe wrote:
I once played a game of Munchkin (I know, I was giving it a shot)
It's alright, we all have games of shame! Actually, we encourage folks to play all kinds of games at least once and then make their decision. Just because I think it's a crappy game doesn't mean other folks shouldn't enjoy it. I actually enjoy looking through the Munchkin cards and doing so makes me long for a good game.


wanloe wrote:
I totally agree that it's rude when people do absorbing activities when it's another's turn. ...

... It was slow and painful, and not just because of the game itself.
Yeah, it's even worse than AP players, because the delay isn't related to the game.


wanloe wrote:
It's funny, because sometimes people are so focused on the game that there is no conversation, just people wrapped in deep thought, even when it isn't their turn. It's ok then because it's focused around the game. Does people in this discussion not enjoy those types of games?
Absolutely we like to play those games. Perception games like Ricochet Robots or Ubongo Extreme are very popular in our local library and those require total concentration.
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Greggory Delman
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I guess the big difference to "silent games" is that people who play those games are expecting that type of interaction, not being force into it because of extra-gaming activities.
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Good episode. I was not surprised at all to hear that the playtest of Scott's music game was a bit of a trainwreck. I think any game that actually involves creating art is going to have some problems simply because most people don't have the necessary skills to pull it off. There are some games themed around art (Fresco, Pastiche, Modern Art), but in none of those are you actually requiring the players to have any real artistic skill and create a piece of art. Even drawing games like Telestrations or Pictionary are really about communication rather than the art form itself being the end goal.

I guess the closest thing in my mind to what you're going for would be some kind of collaborative story telling game. But in something like that, the players at least have a grasp on the fundamentals of creating a story, i.e., they know how to use words. Unless the players have all grown up learning about music and developing their ears and rhythmic sense, you're going to have a hell of a time getting any game that involves creating music (especially collaborative music) to work. IMO.

It would probably have the most success within the context of a Music Theory course in a High School or College. Somewhere where the players can reasonably be expected to have some fundamental musical skills.
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Erik Dewey
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Blott wrote:
Well, I don't know if "dropped the ball" is too strong a term for this episode, but it mystifies me that you moved on from the electronic distractions so quickly. It felt like Donald just made his comment, everyone agreed, and so no more discussion was necessary. Maybe it's just me, maybe there's something wrong in my mindset, but I 100% disagree with Don.


Ben,

The truth is there was a little more discussion on that topic, but there was a huge problem with my audio on the last half of the round table. The problem being it wasn't there. I tried to recreate it where I could, but unfortunately, some of the discussion had to go.

I'll just summarize it by saying I was right. devil
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Hoyle A
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Regarding nomenclature, I feel that everyone on the show had a point, and I wonder whether there should be a broader term which would help out. Although I'm not thrilled with this one, something like "table games" could help.

Dexterity table games -- crokinole, billiards, foozeball
Card table games -- bridge, poker, battle line
board table games -- candyland, caylus

Further broken down by another modifier

Traditional card table games - bridge, poker
Modern (?) strategy card table games - battle line
strategy board table games -- caylus
social card table games -- werewolf
and so forth

Now, I'm not terribly happy with "Table" as the right word, maybe we need a new one. But, I think this would address Scott's point of separating the medium from the game style.

I also think the term "video game" is the other problem with this discussion, since to me at least, it implies a "dexterity digital game" whereas we could use categories for online catan as a "strategy digital game" or something, which may provide less objection from some.

What do you think?



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Guy Riessen
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Walsfeo wrote:
Blott wrote:
Maybe it's just me, maybe there's something wrong in my mindset, but I 100% disagree with Don.


Woohoo!

I probably shouldn't cheer someone disagreeing with me, but it's been that kind of a month.


A case could be made that since not everyone can multi-process at the same level of proficiency that perhaps everyone should stick to the game at hand, but I don't necessarily see the difference between someone playing with a phone, fiddling with the pieces, or knitting.



Fiddling with pieces is fine, talking to other players even about unrelated topics is fine, but smart phones and even knitting is RUDE. The former two are engaging in the game and the players, the latter two are purposefully ignoring the players, effectively telling them that they are not worth your time or attention. If anyone was so callous as to do that in our group, they'd be ejected so fast it'd make their head spin. In fact, there was a woman who decided that we weren't worth her attention and decided to knit continuously during play--how many times did I play with her? Just that once and never again. I can't believe it's even a question. Would you be the best man, or maid of honor at your closest friend's wedding, then stand there surfing the 'net during the ceremony? Use a little common decency, folks and treat your fellow gamers, and friends, with a modicum of respect. That means making the decision that if your friends are not worth your time, to stay home and do your other solitary activities.
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jaiden0 wrote:

I also think the term "video game" is the other problem with this discussion, since to me at least, it implies a "dexterity digital game" whereas we could use categories for online catan as a "strategy digital game" or something, which may provide less objection from some.


I've been thinking that they might be called 'Electronic simulations of board games'.
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I have no problem with electronic versions of boardgames being called digital board games and ones on a table are tabletop boardgames. Most digital implementations of boardgames have a representation of the board as the key visual element of the game so it is a digital-board game.

The digital revolution has started blurring the lines between the fixed media forms that have developed and settled over the years and these lines are getting more blurred as time goes on. I have a fundamental problem with classifications of genre's and media types because it precludes the blending of genres and the emergence of new genres.


Over time there will be more innovation in technology in boardgames and also more innovation in digital game design inspired by the board game industry. These will blur this line into nonexistence and we will have some games that are clearly video games some that are clearly boardgames and some hybrid games that will stretch the gamut.

Finally about boardgame/cardgame debate. How few components can a game with cards have before it is a cardgame and not a boardgame? if it has a scoring track on a board is it a boardgame? if it has a board as a set up area that cards are placed on? if it takes up enough physical space and has a physical set up of more than one deck is it a boardgame?

Does Dominion suddenly become a board game if you are playing with seaside and have the pirate ship mats out?
Is Seven Wonders a card game because the cards are the main mechanic even though it has information tracked by boards and bits?
Is Cribbage a board game if you are playing with a cribbage board?
Is Tic Tac Toe a board game? and if not does playing it on a physical board suddenly make it one?

I think these decisions are arbitrary and there will always be fuzzy borders between games that have there origins in different mediums.

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Magnus Esko
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Through the ages is basically a card game that takes up to 6 hours to play

But to me, cardgames is pretty much a sub-category to boardgames. Of course I use boardgame as a translation of the Swedish word "sällskapsspel" which has no indication of components. Kinda funny but all swedes into boardgames use the exact Swedish translation "brädspel", influenced by this website I guess. The word "bräde" comes from games like Chess. The foldable mounted type board is called "spelplan" (game-field).
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Eric Clason
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How about eating, is it OK to eat during a game? This happens frequently in the circles I game in. I often do it myself. It doesn't bother me. I haven't noticed it bothering others, although sometimes I'm not good at noticing such things.
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ejclason wrote:
How about eating, is it OK to eat during a game? This happens frequently in the circles I game in. I often do it myself. It doesn't bother me. I haven't noticed it bothering others, although sometimes I'm not good at noticing such things.


Only problem I can see is people getting food/drink on the game itself. Other then that I see no problem with people eating and drinking while playing. People tend to not be distracted by what they eat/drink. If people plan to eat while they play, it might be a good idea to inform all visitors that they can bring something with them to eat.

In my playgroup we usually go out for dinner together. I always inform people when we will go out for dinner and when we will be back, so they can plan accordingly. Our usual schedule is games 14-18, dinner 18-19, games 19->. We have one girl bringing food with her sometimes when she have other plans for the evening.
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Donald Dennis
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ejclason wrote:
How about eating, is it OK to eat during a game? This happens frequently in the circles I game in. I often do it myself. It doesn't bother me. I haven't noticed it bothering others, although sometimes I'm not good at noticing such things.


After nearly three years of board gaming at the public library I rarely eat and play board games at the same time. Just the thought of touching some of those bits and then using the same hand to put food in my mouth... ugh.

Drinks are good though. I prefer bottled beverages, but that's not a rule.
 
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