Isolated games night (Topic Discussion)

Games nights are about social interactions, catching up with friends, maybe some ribbing, eating snacks, enjoying a drink, holding cards or moving pieces, maybe rolling dice and enjoying how a game unfolds, its twists and turns. It's about a shared experience and coming together. Yet, at the moment we have to stay apart, which changes how we interact and how we behave at games nights. It also changes how games nights feel. There are things we can do to try and make things feel as normal as possible. So here are some suggestions I have, things that I  have learned from my own weekly games nights.

Open information (Topic Discussion)

In open, or perfect, information games, everything is there for everyone to see. Nothing is hidden. The whole state of the game is right there in front of you. Chess is probably the most famous perfect information game - and the most classic one. However, just because all the information about the game state is available to you, doesn't mean you actually know everything. In this article, I want to look at what information you need to work out for yourself in these games and what game experience that creates.

High spirits (Topic Discussion)

There are many things that affect our mental health in some way. It could be a life-changing or otherwise significant event. It could be certain habits we have or things we do - or don't do. Our physical health can also affect it, as well as the health of someone close to us. Our relationships also have an influence on our mental health. These are all very broad stroke headlines and there are many things that fit into each of those categories. Of course, different events affect each of us differently - in different ways and at different times. Ultimately, it's about how we deal with these events that decided how they affect our mental health.

Pulling together (Topic Discussion)

I have always hoped that our community would work together to help each other through tough times, and it seems that my hopes have been answered. I don't think I need to describe the recent, global events, but when many of us had to stay at home and our social bonds were put under pressure, a lot of people did what they could to bring people together again and create a fresh sense of community.

Heavy Times (Topic Discussion)

Text and board games are inextricably linked. You find text in various places in every board game to a greater or lesser extent. I can't think of any game that doesn't have some text somewhere, but feel free to prove me wrong in the comments below. At the very least, there will be text on the box, stating where the game was made or what its player count is. At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find games that are text-heavy. I want to look at the varying levels of use of text in modern board games.

Design challenges (Topic Discussion)

The list of tasks a game designer has open at any one point in time can be very long and it is constantly evolving. Designing a game is a long journey, even for the simplest of games. It can be a battle between what's good for the game and what the game designer wants the game to be. It comes with a lot of changes, some of them very painful, some of them creating the long-needed breakthrough that breaks an impasse. Elements get added, others get taken out until eventually, the final product bears little resemblance to the notes that were scribbled on a piece of paper when the designer had an initial idea.

Leading role (Topic Discussion)

We all love high quality, gorgeous game components. Chunky dice, metal coins, thick cardboard, linen finished cards, detailed miniatures or custom meeples. However, what we often forget is how components are used in games. We all know about rolling dice, playing cards and placing workers, but there are other, much more inventive ways of using components in games that can make playing them more memorable and exciting for us and it is one of the things that I am always keeping an eye out for.

Great expectations (Topic Discussion)

Of course it is important to make sure everyone knows about the game you're planning to release very soon or the campaign that's going to launch on Kickstarter shortly. You want people to be excited, so they share it with their friends. You want people to think your game is the best fit for them, so it can compete with the myriad of other games vying for people's attention all the time. In fact, you want your game to be amazing - the best it can be. You want others to love it as much as you do. However, there comes a point at which you might be promising more than the game can deliver. You can run the risk of overhyping your game, which can have a hugely negative effect.

Faking it (Topic Discussion)

We all have heard of knock-off copies of designer bags or clothing, illegal copying of DVDs and CDs, as well as cheap versions of toys that are basically replicas of products sold by big brands. After all, there is good money to be had by the makers of these fakes, as well as a good chunk of money to be saved by people who buy the copies instead of the much more expensive originals. However, what is probably less well known is that modern board games have also become a target of unscrupulous people who want to make a quick buck. So, let me give you a couple of examples of games which were counterfeit in the last couple of years and the lessons we should take away.

Playing together (Topic Discussion)

In recent years, there seems to have been a surge in board game events in the UK, where people come together for a day or two to play games with old friends and new. I'm thinking of events like AireCon, Manorcon or Tabletop Scotland, but there are many more. These events are different to expos, like the UK Games Expo, which do have open play or tournaments, but whose main focus is on exhibitors showing off their products. What I want to talk about here are more like festivals, where the focus is on playing, and exhibitors, seminars and other activities are secondary - and I want to look at AireCon in particular.