2017

End of the year video with my perspective on gaming and industry trends.

Board Gaming 2017

Eduardo Baraf is a game maker from Mountain View, California. He is married with two boys (5/8) and loves playing games with his family and friends at home. He owns Pencil First Games (Lift Off! Get me off this Planet, The Siblings Trouble, GemPacked Cards) and runs the YouTube channel: Edo’s Game Reviews. Professionally his career spans Video Games, Startups, and VR technology.

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  1. Lewis Pulsipher on December 25, 2017

    Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    There’s no need to be diffident about the worthiness of your observations, Eduardo. There’s very little “hard data” in gaming, and anyone who’s educated as an historian (as I was) knows that a very large proportion of “hard data” is skewed to the point of invalidity (Example from video games: the standard sales figures for video games, until recently, included only retail stores, not downloadables. Why? It’s hard to measure/count the downloadables. But they do try to include “digital” distribution now. What good was their data? “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” -Albert Einstein (http://quotes4all.net/albert%20einstein.html)) Survey data can be interesting, but is often skewed in a variety of ways. And so on.

    I don’t follow the narrow realm of boardgames sufficiently, I try to keep my attention on games as a whole whether video or TT. Your insights are valuable to me.

    As I strongly dislike puzzles, I’m not impressed by the continuing evolution toward puzzles. (Oddly enough, video games, which have been puzzles for years (as virtually any single-player game is a puzzle) are moving away from puzzle in “multiplayer” (human opposition) games.

    Board games are following RPGs and (more recently) AAA video games in emphasizing Avatars, a single character or thing (like a tank in World of Tanks) from which all player action emanates, and which is at-risk (your avatar dies, you “lose”). If there’s no danger of the avatar dying, you’re likely playing what amounts to a playground, not an actual game. (Single-player puzzles are playgrounds; you might die but you just try again.) An emphasis on avatars goes hand-in-hand with “experiences”. (2014: Trends – Avatar Games https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92Qn3leKA8c )

    Embedded tutorials are the norm in AAA video games, interesting to hear that they’re coming into board games.

    “Expansions that are included in the game” have been with us for many decades. They’re called “Advanced Game” (Or even Standard, when there’s an Introductory Game) or “Variations”. Mostly they’re in wargames. But they’re in the rules rather than mysterious and unknown until “unlocked”. Do you really think the mystery makes a significant difference?

    For at least fifty years the trend in all kinds of presentations (business and entertainment) is a stronger emphasis on appearance and less attention to actual functionality. TT games are following along. It’s also symptomatic of “let me [the designer-publisher] imagine that for you” as imagination fails in people who have been presented with already-imagined materials since they were young kids.

    Your discussion of the difficulties of retail, of Discoverability problems, has all played in the video game industry for years. They also suffer from a race to the bottom in prices because their products are intangible; and games can be copied at no cost unlike tabletop games. So publishers are willing to price lower and lower, over time, to get a few more bucks. Which drives price expectations down for everyone. Even now, who would buy a game that isn’t on sale?

    You can extrapolate from video games to guess what will be happening in tabletops in a few years, and vice versa.

    • Eduardo Baraf Author on December 25, 2017

      Thanks for the awesome thoughts and perspective!!

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