April 10, 2012

The Rise of the Cult of the Slow and Critical?

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There has been a lot of conversation recently about the prevalence (or rather deficit) of more critical and "academic" discussions of boardgames across a number of avenues. Sources: (On Gamer's Games, 1), (On Gamer's Games, 2), (QWERTYUIOP, 1), (QWERTYUIOP, 2), (The Jaded Gamer, 1), (Opinioned Gamers Discussion)

To paraphrase some of the salient questions raised in these posts the ensuing discussions:
- If games are supposed to be fun, why are we taking them so seriously?
- What is valuable about a review?
- Who reads strategy guides anyways?
- Should we play 50 new (to me) games or 1 game 50 times? i.e. What's with the Cult of the New?
- How can we discuss games seriously when we don’t even have consistent terminology?
- Is BGG the right place to have critical/serious conversations?
- What’s next?

Of course opinions on the questions above vary dramatically among BGG users. In following many of these conversations, I’ve come to realize that I’m in a minority of BGG users in that that I look for deeper or more critical discussions of the boardgaming hobby and of specific games. I’m also in the camp of wanting to play fewer different games many times rather than inundating myself with every new game I can get my hands on. But while I’m in a minority, that minority isn’t insignificant. There are many who share the same perspective I do.

To help frame the issues, I want to step back and answer the questions above from a big picture standpoint, as I’ve come to understand it.