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Subject: OBG 94: Culture Shock rss

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Donald Dennis
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Shaun Fable joins Erik and Don to talk about gaming in Germany and the cultural differences between it and America.

In the review-a-palooza, Erik and Don review:

- Article 27
- Shadow Hunters
- Ergo
- Libertalia
- Bang!


http://onboardgames.libsyn.com/obg-94-culture-shock

What is the gaming culture like where you live?
Do families game?
Do you have a local game store?
Do you attend conventions or organized gaming days?



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That was a really interesting roundtable! While America is big, if you live in a city, there are usually several game shops within a few miles. The more interesting thing about board gamers in this situation is that most board gamers are not city dwellers, choosing to (?) live on the outskirts of cities (suburbs, exurbs) or even rural areas. I find this an interesting behaviour for folks who's hobby of choice is something where they need to be around others.

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Crude, Don. I played my first game this weekend, missed a single word in the rulebook and played a two hour downward spiral to both crude and gas hitting $1 a barrel and then being unsaleable. My fault, I thought the game was great otherwise.
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Shaun Graham
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Note to self:

- Do not overuse use the word "pleasant" any more
- Get a decent microphone without obnoxious buzzing sound

Thanks to Donald and Erik for having me on the roundtable discussion and for putting up with the editing process which must have been a great hassle considering all the SNAFU's that occured during recording. So please bear with Don and Erik - the buzzing noise was my fault. The new headset is in the mail. Thanks again

Cheers,
Shaun
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Donald Dennis
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Shaun, thanks for being on the show. Lots of great insight, and we appreciate you sticking with it through all of the recording mishaps.
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Aaron White
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It was really great having Shaun on the show. One of the best guests you've ever had, in my opinion. Shaun had a lot of insightful things to say. Libertalia has been high on my must try list and this episode did nothing but cement that it deserves to be there. Quality work, guys!

Oh, and Shaun, it's great that you can poke fun at yourself. By the end of your segment I was laughing every time you said pleasant. And yes, you need a new mic. Hope to hear you on more podcasts soon!
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Tom Razo
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Milk?

Chocolate milk maybe...

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Michael Norrish
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Definitely a good episode. Thanks for your contribution Shaun. And Dennis's effectively describing Ameritrash as “Hollywood” games was excellent; very thought-provoking stuff!
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Shaun Graham
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Thanks guys for the feedback!

... and yes mentioned magic players drink chocolate milk, caramel milk, green colored "goblinmilk" ...

Evidence: http://ow.ly/fh2Jy
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Chris Berger
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Julian Cullop
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Thanks for a great episode. I thought Shaun was an excellent guest and I hope you have him back soon.

The question of cultural difference is a tricky one. On the one hand how do you identify it without crass stereotypes? On the other, how do you say something meaningful and avoid platitudinous political correctness? I thought this episode got the balance just about right.

One area of cultural difference that the podcast didn't touch upon was language. This is fairly important with respect to another important issue on Onboardgames-which is clarity of rules. I have recently been struggling with the rules to two games Panic Station and The Boss (sorry can't seem to add link for that one). Certainly Panic Station (a good game) has received a fair amount of criticism concerning the rules The Boss took me considerably longer to understand than than this fairly simple and elegant game should.

In both cases, I was struck by the thought that what is clear as daylight in one language can appear mysterious and convoluted in another. English-with its comparitively simple grammar-needs clear overviews of where rules are going and a broad commitment to short sentences. Other languages-particularly inflected ones-can handle the 'slow burn'much more effectively. A 'faithful'translation is sometimes not enough. I hope that at some point games manufacturers take this to heart. In the interim, it is usually possible to get what such games are driving at but it does require a certain amount of patience.
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Julian Cullop
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arkayn wrote:


That isn't just milk...
 
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Donald Dennis
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the killjoy wrote:
Never thought of the Du/Sie issue as something that effect us culturatly


It must be cultural because I have no idea what Du/Sie is, so don't understand what you are talking about.
 
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Julian Cullop
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Walsfeo wrote:
the killjoy wrote:
Never thought of the Du/Sie issue as something that effect us culturatly


It must be cultural because I have no idea what Du/Sie is, so don't understand what you are talking about.


I don't speak German so I hope I'm getting this right.

Most languages have two forms of 'you' depending on whether you are talking about one person or more than one person. In French this is 'tu' and 'vous'. However, in many languages it is not just a question of whether you are talking to one or more than one person but also the extent to which you know that person-with the plural form used in all formal situations. (Thus in French 'tu' is used only for family members and intimate acquaintances.) I take it that it is similar in German although when I googled this the rules did look extremely complicated!

It would be a mistake to think that English is more relaxed on this point however. Historically 'thou' was the singular form of 'you' but this has dropped out of usage; suggesting that English-speakers were cold and stand-offish even when talking to their closest friends!
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Shaun Graham
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Yes, Julian is right.

As I've mentioned in the episode, in Germany you use two kinds of "you" depending on your relationship to the other. This means that one generally adresses "strangers" (people I meet on the streets, cashiers etc.) and people that one wants to show a certain type of respect (my boss, teacher, officials) with a different type of you. ("Sie" or French equivalent "vous")

Offering somebody the "Du" (French equivalent "tu") is seen as a gesture of friendship or of closer bonding. Granted, in the last couple of years there has been a trend of using "Du" more frequent, however the idea of "Sie" is still strongly engrained in the German mind. "Strangers" are considered strangers for a certain period and we do not share personal thougts etc. until we get to know each other very well.

I believe that this influences the way one approaches new people and how they interact. The "Du/Sie" thing is just another hurdle one has to overcome on the way to friendship or camaraderie.

Amen ...
Shaun
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Michael Klein
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There is a famous urban legend that former german chancelor Helmut Kohl said to Ronald Reagan after sharing a nice private dinner: "Now you can say 'you' to me", meaning "now we are on first name terms"...
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Roi espino
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More than the Du/Sie issue the big cultural language shock for me its that in German you usually put the verb at the end of the phrase.

I always joke with the idea that that its the reason why the German are so polite and organized when they are in a conversation, they are used to let finish the other guy his phrases and dont interrupt the others, otherwise they would have no idea what he was saying.

And for another topic of the talk, its sooo great that the Spiel des Jhares its popular among the general public. Not only germans but anyone in Europe could buy an old, but great, SPJ for a few euros in ebay.de

My copy of Um reinfenbreite cost me 1€ plus 2€ in bank commision plus 10€ in shipping.

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Randall Bart
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The buzz on Shaun's voice was unacceptable. Podcasts usually stay in my rotation for weeks. This I had to skip the first half then I pulled it after one play.

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Donald Dennis
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Barticus88 wrote:
The buzz on Shaun's voice was unacceptable. Podcasts usually stay in my rotation for weeks. This I had to skip the first half then I pulled it after one play.


Yup, I agree. We have had lots of problems with audio lately, and not all of it because of our guests.

Shaun had expressed interest in joining us again and I advised him we'd be happy to have him join us once he upgraded his recording setup. He's already ordered a new microphone, so when he joins us again he'll be much clearer.
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Daniel Svejda
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Interesting ideas about gaming cultures in different countries. One obvious thing somehow didn't seem to be stated explicitly: if family gaming is the strongest "market current" in Germany, that explains why less geeky games have the upper hand. I can play "Dominion" with my parents (born in 1940), but I don't think I would feel very comfortable playing "Descent" with them.

Just one remark concerning your review of Bang!. Playing with my children and some of their friends, I found the player elimination kind of problematic. You can be killed within a few minutes while especially in larger groups the game can still carry on for 20 minutes or so. A fun approach to solving this problem is a print and play expansion that introduces "ghost players" that play from a different ghost pack of cards with different (but generally less powerful) cards. In that way the eliminated players can still help their living team mates.

Daniel
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