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what game themes are popular at the moment

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Anonymous

excluding the card based tv cartoon type of card game, what are the most popluar board game themes at the moment with both primary school [elementry school us] and adults ?

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
what game themes are popular at the moment

This year at Essen there were quite a few pirate themed board games. For the heavier type of board games various historical themes were popular.

- René Wiersma

Aerjen
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Joined: 08/28/2008
what game themes are popular at the moment

I think the following is rather a mechanic than a theme, but in the Netherlands. Building/constructive games are rather popular at the moment. These games are for example: Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne.

doho123
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what game themes are popular at the moment

Poker is really big in the states now; I know quite a few people who's kids are playing it. I imagine that superheroes will be big shortly with the Incredibles coming out, and continued success of the Spiderman, Xmen movies, and the City of Heroes massively multiplayer online game.

jwarrend
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what game themes are popular at the moment

Just out of curiosity, what's the basis for your question? Are you looking to make a game? Have you already got a game made but need a theme for it? What "demographic" are you aiming at -- families, "serious" gamers, etc?

My personal feeling on the "theme" issue is, don't bother doing a game that will just amount to a recreation of a game that's been done before, but also don't be afraid to tackle a well-worn theme if you can develop mechanics that will bring to light a new and heretofore unexplored aspect of the theme.

In that sense, my suggestion is, just design a game that's fun to play with your friends and family! Having that, you can think about what to do to take it to the next level. Shaping your creative process too much by what's popular now may be unhelpful, since it would be a couple of years (most likely) till your game would hit the shelves anyway. Also, be aware that if you're looking to build a game around a licensed theme (e.g. Pokemon, Lord of the Rings, etc), the license may or may not be easy to obtain, so investing a ton of time and energy into such a project may be a labor of love but little else.

Good luck,

Jeff

Anonymous
what game themes are popular at the moment

jwarrend wrote:

My personal feeling on the "theme" issue is, don't bother doing a game that will just amount to a recreation of a game that's been done before, but also don't be afraid to tackle a well-worn theme if you can develop mechanics that will bring to light a new and heretofore unexplored aspect of the theme.

In that sense, my suggestion is, just design a game that's fun to play with your friends and family! Having that, you can think about what to do to take it to the next level.

I have to partially disagree with Jeff. It is important to know what will sell when designing games, if you want to bring them to market.

First, let’s think about games into two different types of categories. There are mass-market games (typically manufactured by Hasbro, Parker Brothers, etc) and there are hobby games. I’ll loosely define a hobby game as any game that has less than 20,000 copies for the first printing.

Why do people buy mass-market games? If what appears on the shelf at Toys-R-Us and Wal-Mart is any indication, these games sell because of game-recognition or themes.

The consumer thinks, “The Spiderman movie was cool, let’s buy our child the Spiderman game.”

To quote Bette Lutz of Cactus Marketing referring to mass-market games, “The theme or subject of a game constitutes 60-70% of what sells that product to the manufacturer.”

So why do people buy hobby games? When I buy a game I evaluate it using three criteria - Designer, Mechanics and Theme, Art and Quality.

First, have I played a game by the designer before? Did I like his/her other games? I think of the designer as a kind of author.

Second, what are the mechanics of the game? I typically look for games that employ a variety of mechanics and not completely luck based. It is my belief that the game mechanic is how consumers of hobby games think about the games we buy. I don’t think I bought a game about San Juan, but rather I bought a German-style board game.

Finally, I look at the theme, art and production quality. Is it on a topic that I would enjoy playing? For example if the theme is about “relationships” and I typically play games with other guys, that theme does not pique my interest. But pirates, wars and history are generally safe themes for a group of guys. Also does the artwork look nice? Are the pieces easy to handle and of good quality? This is typically a good indication of adequate play testing – I have purchased games only to realize that the designer did a terrible job, so quality is important to me.

Where I agree with Jeff is this, if you attempt to design a game based on what is currently selling in the market, you have already missed the boat. If you look at the market and say, Pirates are popular this year, what will happen is one or two Pirate games will emerge as market leaders. In one or two years when you finally get your game to market there will be no way that a newcomer will be chosen above a well established game.

An example is Carcassone and Keythedral. I consider Carcassone to be a market leader because my non-gaming friends have played it. Keythedral, released using a similar city building mechanic of Carcassone, is a great game but will never have the same market penetration as the 5 or 10 different Carcassones.

So the question remains. How do you find out what will sell in the market. It is not an easy question to answer. The large manufacturers do consumer research, but this is typically too costly for hobby games. Since this data is important for their future products, you won’t find them sharing it with the world. Only after you are a well-established designer will they bother requesting you to design a game around a particular theme.

I think the best way for hobby game designers to figure out if a theme/mechanic in their games will sell is to do a lot of play testing. Find several groups that are your target audience. Get them to play test your prototype. Your prototype should include a solid theme, great artwork and great mechanics. Then ask them, how much would you be willing to pay for this game? If it the gross-margins are too low then ax the game.

Jonathan

Anonymous
use the broadest theme

I think it's best to use the broadest theme you can, and maybe it goes along with mechanic (probably best), but maybe not.

Like transportation games: Railroads, Cars, Horses etc. If the game is about movement in a general sense, then when you go to print you can just change it from cars to horses if horses seem more interesting at that time.

Or building games: Whether you build a shop, a city, a farm or whatever.

Etc.

Maybe I'm being too general, and perhaps the "I hate a theme that is 'pasted on'" crowd will be mad, but if you don't pidgeon-hole your design to "4 foot tall north eastern new hampshirites trading grades of quality maple syrup in the winter of 1779" when it could be a trading game with any historical time with any peoples/animals with any commodity.

Don't limit yourself until the end.

s2alexan
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Joined: 10/25/2008
Re: use the broadest theme

jjacy1 wrote:
I think it's best to use the broadest theme you can, and maybe it goes along with mechanic (probably best), but maybe not.

Like transportation games: Railroads, Cars, Horses etc. If the game is about movement in a general sense, then when you go to print you can just change it from cars to horses if horses seem more interesting at that time.

Or building games: Whether you build a shop, a city, a farm or whatever.

Etc.

Maybe I'm being too general, and perhaps the "I hate a theme that is 'pasted on'" crowd will be mad, but if you don't pidgeon-hole your design to "4 foot tall north eastern new hampshirites trading grades of quality maple syrup in the winter of 1779" when it could be a trading game with any historical time with any peoples/animals with any commodity.

Don't limit yourself until the end.

That's one way to approach a game... on the other hand, if you DO limit yourself at the beginning, you may come up with mechanics that are unique to maple-syrup trading. A generic approach is easier, but a more limited approach will (with lots of work) yield a strongly-themed game.

Trickydicky
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Joined: 12/31/1969
what game themes are popular at the moment

Quote:
The consumer thinks, “The Spiderman movie was cool, let’s buy our child the Spiderman game.”

Quote:
How do you find out what will sell in the market. It is not an easy question to answer. The large manufacturers do consumer research, but this is typically too costly for hobby games. Since this data is important for their future products, you won’t find them sharing it with the world.

I agree with both of these comments. But they made me think about a way around this problem, in specific situations. For example I know that one of my favorite books will be made into a movie that I think will be a big blockbuster (Ender's Game by OSC). I'm sure they will be making a video game version of this, but I doubt they will make a board game. It would be difficult to design a board game based on the battle room, but I think it could be done. Since the movie won't be coming out for at least 2-3 more years someone could get a jumpstart on a board game, simply from reading the book.

I guess what I'm saying is if you know something popular will be released in a few years it is fairly safe to say that a game about that theme would share in the popularity. I don't know how easy it would be to get the licenses for anything like this, but hey it really couldn't hurt to try. If you succeed and the game rides on popularity from the movie/book, it would help get your name as a designer out there.

That leads me to another question. Does anyone know who has to give licensing rights if there is a book and a movie? For example, if I got the rights, from Orson Scott Card to make a game based on the book Ender's Game after the movie was released, would I also have to get a license from the Film company?

Thanks

doho123
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what game themes are popular at the moment

If you are planning to use the images, elemnts or details that were created for a movie (which is based on a book), you will need the rights from the movie production group, and possibly, the originating source. However, if you only want to use stuff from the original source, then you SHOULD be able to license the original source only, UNLESS, the movie production house has obtained those rights. Be aware that getting the rights from a movie doesn't allow you the rights of the original source in most cases, so if you were, for example to obtain a license from say, (to pick an off-beat title) the Judge Dredd movie, you would be forced to use the Sylvester Stallone Dredd, and not the comic book Judge Dredd.

Anonymous
what game themes are popular at the moment

jjacy1 wrote:
...don't pidgeon-hole your design to "4 foot tall north eastern new hampshirites trading grades of quality maple syrup in the winter of 1779"

Darn. That's what my next game was going to be about! ; )

doho123 wrote:
If you are planning to use the images, elemnts or details that were created for a movie (which is based on a book), you will need the rights from the movie production group, and possibly, the originating source. However, if you only want to use stuff from the original source, then you SHOULD be able to license the original source only, UNLESS, the movie production house has obtained those rights.

Yes, I think you're right. Licenses are probably best worked out by a lawyer!

Who's to say that we can't create the next popular theme? Come up with a game that's really good (regardless of the theme), sell it like crazy and your theme could be the next big thing!

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