March 03, 2014

Desktop/Tabletop #4: Card Games Rising

The Must-Read Story: 

Leigh Alexander, Quintin Smith, and Jesse Turner - "Life Hacks: A Netrunner Story" - Shut Up & Sit Down, Feb 26th

What should have been a simple piece about one player's attempt to break into the competitive Netrunner scene turned into a rather personal look at why we play the games we do. Leigh Alexander expresses how it feels to be on the outside looking in: an introvert in a hobby requiring group socialization, a female in a hobby undeniably crafted in males' own images, and the only friend among a group who does not spend copious time strategizing and playing Netrunner decks. The achievement here is in respecting those first two points while never losing sight of the main topic; this post remains an incredible piece of writing about Netrunner

If You've Got More Time: 

VDUDE - "The Combo" - Team Covenant, Feb 28th
For comparison purposes with the above SU&SD post, this blog entry at Team Covenant aims at a much narrower audience: those who are deeply entrenched in Netrunner. Unless you are a regular player, you may not even be able to understand the words on the page! (don't say I didn't warn you). If you can parse the hieroglyphics, though, VDUDE's has a great message to those who are quick to claim a game is "broken."

Samantha Nelson - "Collectible Card Games Go Digital, but are They any Less Exhausting?" - A.V. Club, Feb 25th
Rounding out the spate of card game-centric content, Samantha Nelson looks at digital CCGs from the viewpoint of the tabletop player. We often hear about the tabletop industry pulling in a fresh audience of video gamers, but this piece looks at the other side: video game publishers trying to rope in the tabletop audience by offering digital cards. The ranks of ex-CCG players are overflowing, but Samantha asks whether a fresh coat of digital paint will cover up the reasons that these gamers exited the hobby in the first place. 

"IDW CEO Ted Adams on IDW Games" - ICv2, Feb 19th
Sometimes, being first to the party does get you recognized. This interview by ICv2 is by no means one of the best interviews I've ever read, but its coverage of IDW Games is very thorough, and exists in what seems like a void of reporting on this new publisher. Back in October of 2013, major comics publisher IDW founded a new game publishing division in partnership with Pandasaurus Games. You probably didn't hear about it, though. IDW just ramped up their publicity machine last week, and ICv2 was well-poised as a website for retailers of both comics and games. This interview answers just about every initial question you could ask about the joint IDW-Pandasaurus venture. 

Nancy Groves - "How we made Twister" - The Guardian, Feb 24th
A very enjoyable read about the history of Twister, told from two different individuals who helped invent and develop the game. Twister had a bumpier road to success than one might assume of a long-term toy aisle staple. "Sex in a box" got slammed by Sears, but rescued by Johnny Carson, with a little help from the female anatomy. 

The Lighter Side:

  • There are times for 1,000-word editorials, and there are times for no-frills news coverage. Tabletop media have slowly been waking up to the amount of sheer news that is generated out of the New York International Toy Fair each year, and has done the best job of summarizing every announcement worth reporting. Unfortunately, there is no tag or topic page to link them in aggregate, but scan through the site's first few pages for Toy Fair posts. I've seen the internet set afire by news of games that were already announced nine months prior at Toy Fair, so the fact that Purple Pawn got their comprehensive news write-ups posted within a week of the event is practically heroic.
  • A tiny 400-person gaming convention from Sheboygan, Wisconsin received a surprisingly earnest writeup in the Manitowic Herald-Times Reporter, discussing the rise of Euro games. There are the token photos of cosplayers, and misguided suggestion to send new players straight to BGG, but the article's tone is welcoming to an unfamiliar audience, while providing just the right level of detail about the hobby. 
  • It is always good to look at the past, the past, and the FUTURE.
Thanks again to everyone for signing up and reading. Be sure to tell your friends or share the subscribe link if you've enjoyed this roundup of stories. You can also watch a 2-minute summary of my top story pick in this week's episode of Board Game Breakfast.