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zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Apples to Apples?

jwarrend wrote:
It's a crude analogy, but we want the same thing for our hobby. We want people to be converted slowly and steadily, because these games are fun to play, and not because it's the "in" thing to do or the product of the moment at Target. Sure, I think seeing Settlers on the shelf at Toys R Us would be cool, but I personally don't think the country is ready for it yet. There will come a time, I think, when there will be a legitimate demand for a product of that caliber (not that I'm a huge Settlers fan by any means), and when that happens, we'll see it on the shelves. But I don't agree with you and Darke that it's just for lack of trying. I just really don't think the country is ready yet.

I think the problem with Western culture in general is that it is quite xenophobic, American civilization in culture (generalisation disclaimer: not all Americans are xenophobic, etc, etc). People are afraid to try new things and they don't want to look dumb in front of others, which is the reason why they stick to a game and mechanics they know rather than try something new.

It is typical that "German" gaming has such a hard time taking off in America, while in Asian countries such as Korea and Japan the recently introduced German games are flowering. Really, if I had the resources and the know-how I would start a boardgaming company in China. Now THAT market has some potential for growth. :o

Going with the "roll-and-move" mechanic is a safe choice if you want to sell a game to the "general" public. This is a mechanic that people know from other games such as Life or Monopoly. Also, the die roll largely dictates what a player can do in the game, taking away choices from the player and putting it into the hands of fate. This means that a player can blame a loss or failure on "unlucky" die rolls, rather than his own incompetence. It's also easily explained, just roll the die, move your pawn and do what the space tells you.

So, if you want to create a game that appeals to a large group of non-gamers, then the roll-and-move mechanic seems like a good choice, but please don't call it new and innovative, at least not on a boardgame designers forum. Feel free to use any superlative when selling a game, of course :wink:

- Rene Wiersma

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Apples to Apples?

zaiga wrote:
jwarrend wrote:
It's a crude analogy, but we want the same thing for our hobby. We want people to be converted slowly and steadily, because these games are fun to play, and not because it's the "in" thing to do or the product of the moment at Target. Sure, I think seeing Settlers on the shelf at Toys R Us would be cool, but I personally don't think the country is ready for it yet. There will come a time, I think, when there will be a legitimate demand for a product of that caliber (not that I'm a huge Settlers fan by any means), and when that happens, we'll see it on the shelves. But I don't agree with you and Darke that it's just for lack of trying. I just really don't think the country is ready yet.

I think the problem with Western culture in general is that it is quite xenophobic, American civilization in culture (generalisation disclaimer: not all Americans are xenophobic, etc, etc). People are afraid to try new things and they don't want to look dumb in front of others, which is the reason why they stick to a game and mechanics they know rather than try something new.

Well, I hope by this you're not saying that Americans don't like German games because of a dislike of foreigners!

I think you're probably using "xenophobic" more in the sense of disliking the new or the unknown. But even then, I mildly disagree. See, if interested, my most recent remarks in the thread "examination board". I personally think the problem isn't so much that people won't try new things, it's that they don't want to think critically, period. And not just as a form of social interaction. I really believe that the entertainment, consumer-istic nature of society has come at the expense of our critical thinking skills. I don't think people are afraid of looking dumb, I just think they don't want to do the mental work required in playing a game, period (even a transparently simple game like Monopoly).

Also, I think that in terms of the games that are chosen, I really suspect that for the average adult, the "party-style" game is more of our competition than something like "Monopoly", which I can't imagine gets played all that much. I think it's a reflection of the same phenomenon -- people, when they can be twisted into playing a game, want something that is light, easy, requires little thought, and is "fun" in a whimsical, lots-of-laughs sort of sense. It's that mindset that I think we're up against moreso than the "I prefer games I'm familiar with to games I'm unfamiliar with." I've had reasonably good success getting people to try Apple to Apples (which I really like), but only because I promised profusely that it was "easy, funny, simple, light", etc.

I agree with your other points, and don't disagree with you in principle, I guess I'd just explain this phenomenon that you describe in a slightly different way.

Incidentally, one detects a certain "distaste" for American culture in your note; not a bit of "xenophobe" ourselves, are we? (kidding)

Talk to you soon,

Jeff

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Apples to Apples?

jwarrend wrote:

Well, I hope by this you're not saying that Americans don't like German games because of a dislike of foreigners!

No, I certainly didn't mean that! :o

Quote:

I think you're probably using "xenophobic" more in the sense of disliking the new or the unknown.

Exactly. Also, note that I said that a dislike of the unknown seems to be a trait of Western culture in general to which I too belong. It just seems to me that this is even more so in American culture. It's not even a negative thing per se, more of an observation really.

Quote:

But even then, I mildly disagree. See, if interested, my most recent remarks in the thread "examination board". I personally think the problem isn't so much that people won't try new things, it's that they don't want to think critically, period. And not just as a form of social interaction. I really believe that the entertainment, consumer-istic nature of society has come at the expense of our critical thinking skills. I don't think people are afraid of looking dumb, I just think they don't want to do the mental work required in playing a game, period (even a transparently simple game like Monopoly).

Oh, I agree with that. Laziness is certainly a reason why people stick to games (and in a broader sense game mechanics) that they know, because they don't want to spend the mental energy to learn new stuff.

Quote:

Also, I think that in terms of the games that are chosen, I really suspect that for the average adult, the "party-style" game is more of our competition than something like "Monopoly", which I can't imagine gets played all that much. I think it's a reflection of the same phenomenon -- people, when they can be twisted into playing a game, want something that is light, easy, requires little thought, and is "fun" in a whimsical, lots-of-laughs sort of sense. It's that mindset that I think we're up against moreso than the "I prefer games I'm familiar with to games I'm unfamiliar with." I've had reasonably good success getting people to try Apple to Apples (which I really like), but only because I promised profusely that it was "easy, funny, simple, light", etc.

Ah, but there is the trick: you persuaded them to play something new. You know, I sometimes like to wander about in the Dutch equivalent of Toys r Us and overhear the conversations of customers that are looking at boardgames. Unlike in the USA here we have "Disney Monopoly" standing on the shelf next to "Domaine", for example. Now, customers may look at the "Domaine" box and they are interested in the theme, the look of the box, maybe the description on the back of the box, but in the end they pick up "Disney Monopoly" and buy that simply because they know what they can expect and are basically afraid to try something new and different. This has actually happened, by the way.

Quote:

I agree with your other points, and don't disagree with you in principle, I guess I'd just explain this phenomenon that you describe in a slightly different way.

Incidentally, one detects a certain "distaste" for American culture in your note; not a bit of "xenophobe" ourselves, are we? (kidding)

Ah no Jeff, how could I have a distaste for American culture when I go to McDonalds, watch American movies, listen to American music, post English messages on an American internetforum visited mostly by Americans, go on vacation to New York and see the American president on TV more than my own prime-minister? :lol:

Even typical American holidays such as Valentine's Day, Halloween and the Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus (which, interestingly, is derived from the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas, or St. Nicolas day) are slowly but surely finding it's way into Dutch culture.

- Rene Wiersma

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Apples to Apples?

zaiga wrote:

Ah, but there is the trick: you persuaded them to play something new.

That's right. It's a step in the right direction.

Quote:

You know, I sometimes like to wander about in the Dutch equivalent of Toys r Us and overhear the conversations of customers that are looking at boardgames. Unlike in the USA here we have "Disney Monopoly" standing on the shelf next to "Domaine", for example. Now, customers may look at the "Domaine" box and they are interested in the theme, the look of the box, maybe the description on the back of the box, but in the end they pick up "Disney Monopoly" and buy that simply because they know what they can expect and are basically afraid to try something new and different. This has actually happened, by the way.

Oh, ok, I see your point now. You're speaking at the level of "what game will a game player choose?" (it's nice, by the way, that you even have the choice to buy games like Domaine at your stores!) Whereas I was speaking more at the level of "will a person play a game in the first place?" I think our points complement each other, and both are true.

Quote:

Ah no Jeff, how could I have a distaste for American culture when I go to McDonalds, watch American movies, listen to American music, post English messages on an American internetforum visited mostly by Americans, go on vacation to New York and see the American president on TV more than my own prime-minister? :lol:

Even typical American holidays such as Valentine's Day, Halloween and the Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus (which, interestingly, is derived from the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas, or St. Nicolas day) are slowly but surely finding it's way into Dutch culture.

Well, for better or for worse, our culture is our best export!

In fact, there's a "homogenization" of culture happening in the US that I don't know if I particularly like. You can go to just about any town and find a Target, a McDonald's, a Home Depot, a WalMart, etc. It's as if all places, are experiences, are becoming the same as all other places and all other experiences. Fall is a big season in the US Northeast, for example, and apple season is a big component of that. But now, it seems that every apple orchard you go to features pick-your-own apples, hay-rides, caramel apples, farm animals, a corn maze, etc. It's as if everyone is trying to provide the "pre-packaged fall experience" that customers now expect when they go to the orchard. And as a result, every apple orchard is basically the same as any other.

This doesn't really have anything to do with gaming per se, just an indictment of capitalism as a whole, particularly American capitalism, where the answer to the question "what goods/services should we provide" is almost always "whatever will sell". Of course, the only system worse than capitalism is ... any other system! (kidding -- don't really want to start an economics debate here!)

-Jeff

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Just Marketing

I talked about this a little in another post, but I believe that in America and maybe even in the world (I've never been anywhere else so I don't know) a name is bigger than the product. Take Microsoft. Everyone that knows about computers more than the average user knows that Linux is better. Wal-Mart made their way with low prices, now they just make their way with their name.

Same for games also. People buy Monopoly because of it's name, and they are used to it, and even if it doesn't change the game at all or barely, they will still buy "Star Wars" Monopoly, "Star Trek," "NFL," or even "Barbie" (If it exists, which I believe it does with all the Monopolys out there. You could open a store and just sell the different versions and have a pretty good size store.)

Then if you look at Hasbro, everyone knows they are the game company in the U.S. Even if their new game was horrible, I know people would buy it because it's from Hasbro. And because it was selling, people would buy it because of that. No wonder America has such a huge deficit. We buy anything!

O.K. Now that I've interrupted this forum it can go back to the topic being discussed before. :roll:

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