You had received a mysterious invitation to the old mansion on top of the hill, which had lain empty for decades - if not centuries. You were about to throw the letter in the bin, along with the junk mail, when you hesitated. It could be interesting to see who else would turn up. After all, there was this old story linking your ancestors to a Betrayal at House on the Hill: 3rd Edition by Dave Chalker, Banana Chan, Noah Cohen, Bruce Glassco, Brian Neff, Will Sobel and Jabari Weathers from Avalon Hill.
We probably all have a favourite children's story that we loved as a child or maybe a favourite book that we've read many times or a favourite film or TV show that we love watching and that takes us away from our day-to-day. In this article, I want to look at how games tell stories and how they draw us into their world.
We had been transported to another world, another time maybe. The stars were all wrong, not matching any of the charts we had on board our ship, the Manticore. Captain Sofi Odessa decided we should make landfall and spotted a natural harbour nearby. As we got closer, we saw an old woman waving to us from the shore. It seemed like she had been expecting us. Once we had dropped anchor, we went to the starboard side to speak to the woman and find out what she wanted. She was clearly excited to see us and immediately told us that we were here to wake the Sleeping Gods by Red Raven Games.
Board games can be a great way of escaping from the day-to-day worries, thoughts and general logistics, even if it's just for a short time. Board games are just one form of escapism, of course. Books, films, arts and crafts, hiking, solving crossword puzzles and many other activities can achieve something very similar for yourself or other people. You have to find what works for you, but in this article, I want to talk about board games and how they are a form of escapism for me.
I often feel that we accept the written word as something that's a given and don't pay much attention to it. We feel that writing isn't hugely important and that it's fine to just jot anything down, without much care or attention. That's often fine and it's great that people give writing a go. In fact, I encourage people to try and express themselves in written form. Keep tweeting, posting, texting and emailing. However, I think that there are times when it's vitally important that the writing is done well and with care - and writing is actually hard if you want to do it well. Yet, in the board game hobby, writing is too often done by the wrong people, which can spoil the game experience.
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.