Published on June 16th, 2013 | by Colin0
Cardcore Gamer: Going Cardboard
With the big E3 presentations done and dusted, now seems like an opportune time to explain why it is that I’ve forsaken the pixelated path of video games and wandered into the analogue forests of table top gaming (spoiler: It’s not because I trod in dog poo.)
It all began with Public Domain games. You browsed a catalogue of games you’d never heard of, threw a few quid at the most likely ones, then obsessively waited by the letterbox until a packet of 3.5″ floppy discs poked through and hit you smartly on the bridge of your nose. This was amateur night: indie games circa 1995 and while the technology has changed, this is still where the most exciting, creative or downright weird stuff seems to appear. With the bigger game studios acting all conservative, perhaps showing a little ankle once in a while, indie games are still unafraid to perform nude cartwheels, then discuss it with you afterwards – perhaps over a cup of tea.
The problem I have with modern mainstream video games is simply that – for the most part – they bore me stupid. In a virtual realm with infinite possibilities to create anything you want – even a 50ft, solid gold, eagle-winged kneecap – worlds are being created that are largely unimaginative. Board games are bursting with new ideas, even when a theme is well-worn (such as the ever present pop-geek trinity of space/fantasy/zombies) a game can surprise you with its ideas or the angle it’s coming from. There are games which de-construct how a game is supposed to work, redefining playing spaces, rules or goals. There are video games which are so dizzyingly great that they’ll blow my tiny mind. Games that work outside the formula and deliver something to really think about – like the black-humoured brain-bend of Portal – but they remain very much in the minority. In short, board games are to me what mainstream video games just aren’t any more; interesting, unusual and FUN.
Board gaming for me is about that buzz of discovering something new and – even better – being able to then share it with a whole bunch of people, preferably in a pub. It’s about the interactions, be it physically moving the game bits around, or that satisfyingly tactile rattle of a dice roll. It’s about sharing time with friends in the same room, or even psychological interactions as you suss out your opponents, or successfully bluff your way to victory. Playing board games is creative; stories unwind, people laugh or curse their luck (or their fellow players) and people – friends or strangers – play together and that’s something priceless. Well, until someone loses and gets all sulky.