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Published on October 11th, 2013 | by Colin


Cardcore Gamer: Board Games Made Me Do It

CardcoreGamer_BannerThe great, undying argument about video games is whether exposure to particularly violent, or graphic games warps the fragile minds of the gamer (research suggests the opposite) but why does the paranoia spotlight not linger over table-top gaming? 

Board games may traditionally be seen as sedate and rather old-fashioned family pastimes, but when discussing staples such as Monopoly, or Risk, the stories that emerge are often of cut-throat, mercenary wars of attrition. It seems almost everyone can recall a blazing Christmas argument involving a bankrupted uncle, ground under the crippling debt inflicted by their slum-lord nephew, or niece.

Like modern, online multiplayer games, everyone entered on equal footing and, through sheer ruthlessness (and some luck), trampled their way to the top of the heap. Family games permitted no mercy and unlike tea-bagging an anonymous user, you were enacting your utter bastadry face-to-face with great-aunt Florence and her stupid Yorkshire terrier.

Of course, it was all just a game – plastic houses, fake paper money – and as a child it felt great to beat the adults down for once, but what about today’s games? In the same way as 2D pixellated sprites have become fully dismembertronic 3D creations, modern card and board games have grown to teach us all other kinds of nasty habits! Let’s take a look at what will be sending little Jimmy to a correctional facility for a brain-scrub!

I have never seen a more accurate depiction of Monopoly.

First up is bare-faced lying, a skill which is entirely necessary to be competitive in games such as The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery (you’d never guess) and, of course, Diplomacy. All these games require you to look your friends and loved ones straight in the eye and swear to them that you’re telling the truth. After a while, such lies become so easy;  “How could you think I’m the traitor? It’s clearly him!” and “If you help me this time, then we’ll split the gold 50-50″ and the all-too-frequent “I’m not massing forces, it’s a defensive perimeter”. These games will make a liar out of you and hopefully a damned good one; one day you will stand there, pants ablaze, coolly deflecting the blame onto your best friend, closest comrade, or family pet.

But you’ve barely sunk an inch into the ocean of depravity contained within each and every cardboard box on the shelf; these games are wicked and sinful and totally without official age ratings! After you have successfully lied to those near and dear to you and won their pitiful trust, it’s time to betray, back-stab and throw them under the bus! As before, there are plenty of games which court the lie’s cousin, betrayal;  Survive: Escape From Atlantis, Munchkin, Lifeboats and especially Mall of Horror. Now we’re really getting horrible. Each and every one of these titles encourages, even requires you, like a trainee psychopath,  to consider everyone in terms of sheer practical worth, to be used and discarded as it suits you. You may think you couldn’t possibly live without your wife, siblings, or parents, but when the moment comes, you’ll be gleefully chucking them overboard to cling on to that slim thread of victory!


Yes. Yes you are.

Finally, having deceived and disposed of those nearest to your now-withered heart, you’re ready to take your nefarious schemes to a more grisly, personal level of cold-blooded murder. “But surely” you say, mockingly “video games have this one sewn up! Why just this morning I stole a car and flattened an entire virtual mime troupe!”. Scoff as much as you like, but once you’ve played Bang, or Ca$h ‘n’ Gun$, you’ll know how personal a pretend-assassination can be. Ca$h ‘n’ Gun$ has you pointing (foam) guns directly at each other, like a sort of pre-school-safe Reservoir Dogs, but don’t be mislead, your intentions are clear; there can be only one victor – KILL! KILL! KILL!

So why are board and card games not vilified like their electronic relations? These games all involve the most heinous acts and in a very direct and personal way, not over a microphone headset and several thousand miles, but across a scant few feet of table-top. Lying, deceiving, betrayal and murder, all enacted live upon your most beloved as you stare into their innocent faces – surely this is teaching normal people to be cold, psychotic, criminal deviants in a far more realistic manner than video games ever manage? Remember those childhood Monopoly games where real anger was sparked and real feelings were hurt?

Remember how there was always one person who said “Come on now, it’s just a silly game!”?

They’re just games, silly.

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