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Rather, we are discussing multidimensional phenomena, varied in the cultural purpose to which they are applied and inherently susceptible, for these varied reasons, to many possible systems of conceptual analysis. My grandmother, a necessarily frugal woman, would collect the boxes from Lyons individual fruit pies and carefully cut out the images on the front of the boxes.

When my sister and I would visit her, these were used as the cards in a makeshift version of the matching game known in England as Concentration. Cleverly, my grandmothers design allowed for two variants one where one simply matched identical pies, and another where the pies had to be matched with an image of the appropriate fruit.

Of course, folk versions of this game had been around since at least the sixteenth century, but it was William Hurters implementation, Memory, that cemented Ravensburger as the premier manufacturer of games at the Nuremberg toy fair.

What I nd so endearing is that my grandmother took the time to create her own version for us. Like many adult gamers, I have played games in one form or another throughout my life. Later still, I vividly recall my father who had an abiding interest in the Napoleonic Era bringing home a copy of Waddingtons Campaign The game was far more complex than those I was used to, and, to be honest, I dont know if we ever played a full game. But I do remember very clearly the words inscribed along the box-edge: For adults and older children.

This, along with the beautiful board, delicate pieces and luxurious rulebook, hinted at gaming that wasnt just for kids board games, it seemed, were also something that grown-ups played. As a teenager in the late s a friend introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. I found a small group of school friends to play with, and for three years I was a passionate devotee. Through one particularly bleak English winter we completed the entirety of what are now known as the Queen of the Spiders modules.

At the height of my enthusiasm, at an early UK convention I was even lucky enough to have the honor of playing across a table from the late Gary Gygax. Gaming had become a signicant part of my life. Like many gamers, however, the preoccupations of my later teenage years forced games to take a back seat for a period of time. I abandoned role-playing for the most part, but still continued to visit the Hammersmith Games Workshop, where I discovered hobbyist titles such as Talisman,3 Cosmic Encounter4 and many others that I foisted upon friends with varying degrees of success.

Although I didnt attend university at that time, many of my friends did, and late night games of Talisman with every expansion, of course , fuelled by a variety of intoxicants, were the stuff of legend. If you havent played for ve straight hours only to fall into the horrible black void, then you havent really played Talisman!

In later life I moved around a little but still managed to nd a way to t games into my life whenever possible.

Shortly after moving to Australia I started a small gaming group. Being a little short of money, our source of games consisted of an old battered copy of Risk5 and whatever we could nd at local charity shops. One of the problems with acquiring games in this way was the tendency to come home with boxes of components that had, at some point, become separated from the actual rules to the game.

It was while searching for rules to one particular game that I found the website boardgamegeek, and before long was exposed to the variety of modern titles that are collectively known as eurogames. Like many others, I was immediately taken by the design style and actively sought out more and more games to enjoy with the growing number of players who now found their way to the group.

Before long my collection of games was growing exponentially, and I had helped to found the West Australian Boardgaming Association, a not-for-prot organization that aims to support gaming in the community and raise awareness of the benets of playing games.

Thus, when the time came for me to decide on a research topic for my doctorate, the direction was obvious. The result of that research is the book you now hold in your hands. There is a reason for this lengthy preamble.

I would like to think that this book is informed by every game I have ever played, from fruit pie Memory at my grandmothers table to the game of Dominion6 I enjoyed with my son last night.

To understand games one has to play them, and I have been lucky Preface enough in my life to have played games with a host of wonderful people. Unfortunately, there is no way to thank them all individually.

So if Ive ever played a game with you and you dont nd yourself in the following acknowledgments, thank you. I hope you had fun. And so to those who have helped more directly in bringing this book to completion.

I would rst like to thank my supervisor, Matthew Allen, for the academic rigor and repeated readings of my work while it was in thesis form. It is a role that only a fellow gamer could have performed with such enthusiasm. I am very much indebted to Mia Consalvo and Lewis Pulsipher, who were both extremely kind in their appraisal of the original thesis, and who both offered valuable feedback that I have endeavored to incorporate into this book.

I would particularly like to express my gratitude to Stuart Dagger, who went the extra mile in furnishing me with details of early board gaming culture in the UK. A general round of thanks goes out to all members of the boardgamegeek community, especially those who took the time to respond to my survey. Aldie and Derk have created a unique space for community to ourish on the Internet we are all very lucky to have such a wonderful home for our curious little hobby.

I would not have been able to write this book without the many people who have attended Thursday Night Games over the years. Thank you all for your company, camaraderie and competition. Extra thanks are due to the regulars for their perpetual willingness to play yet another new game: Warren Adams again!

Throughout this process there have been many times when the last thing I have wanted to do is talk about games, when all I have wanted is company and a beer. Good friends all. Thanks to Ali for keeping me up-to-date on all the latest video game news while I was temporarily sidetracked, to Louis for teaching me humility by beating me comfortably at any game I put between us, and to Julia, for keeping me sane and providing inspiration.

Finally, there is one person for whom thanks on a page are not nearly adequate. Barely a word of this book could have been written but for the constant and unwavering intellectual, practical and emotional support of my beautiful partner in the only game that really matters. Thank you Helen. Introduction The research and study of board games could be seen as a dead science for many, especially now that a well-developed, digitally interactive media has found videogames to be a very prolic market.

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There has not been extensive research in the area of board games. Researchers have sporadically appeared and disappeared, leaving a legacy that few have systematically followed. Ortega-Grimaldo, , p. The idea of gathering around a table to move pieces on a board conjures up visions of a bygone era, one in which a sense of community ourished, families played together and porch doors were always open. Although these same people will occasionally play board games, typically with their children or at family gatherings, for the most part these games are consigned to the same closet as typewriters and rotary dial telephones, all victims of the inevitable redundancy that accompanies technological progress.

For some people, however, board games are far from being redundant. To them they are a hobby, a passion, even an obsession. It is these people, the games they play, and their experience of that play that is the subject of this book.

Specically, this book is a study of hobbyist gamers who play a form of board game commonly referred to as eurogames. For the purposes of this book I use the term board game to refer to any game that requires a tabletop for play.

However, many of the games described herein are not played on a board as such. In fact, a signicant number are card games. Nevertheless, I have used the term board games to avoid the clumsiness of repeated reference to board and table games. Where not indicated in the text, the specic form of a game is noted in the reference list that is found at the end of the book. The term hobby games is explained in detail in the second chapter of this book.

Briey, it refers to a number of specic game forms that have emerged over the last forty years and which appeal to a particular audience. Examples are wargames, role-playing games, collectible card games and the topic of this book eurogames. Aside from the personal involvement I have already described, my interest in this particular genre stems from two related observations.

Firstly, eurogames are the most recent form of game to be taken up en masse by gaming hobbyists. Secondly, and this is perhaps the more interesting observation, eurogames have emerged and grown in popularity almost concurrently with the rise of digital games.

While I am not suggesting that there is any causal relationship between the rise of these two forms, I cannot help but wonder what it is about eurogames that holds player interest at a time when the rich worlds of digital play have become the dominant form of gaming in the developed world.

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This is the rst question that is central to this book why do hobbyists play eurogames? The second question that informs this book stems from my own play of games generally. As I approached this research, I found myself increasingly fascinated by an apparent contradiction in the play of social games. Ostensibly, a dening element of competitive play is the valorization of winning. Consequently, players play to win. Yet my experience of playing in a variety of contexts suggested to me that players were far more concerned with the social outcome of the game than with any status that could be gained by winning.

Clearly then, there are two forces at work here the desire to win and the desire to have fun with other people. The question that arises from this observation is this: How do players balance the structure of competitive play with the demands of an intimate social gathering? The observation that eurogames are, by denition, a social experience leads to my nal research question. In Johan Huizinga famously described play as an act apart , p.

Roger Caillois too describes games as separate , p. As Juul notes, however, the boundaries between the game world and the real are not perfect but rather are fuzzy areas under constant negotiation , p. My experience of game play has suggested to me that a particular game can offer a vastly different experience depending upon the context in which it is played.

Players and the interaction between them can have a signicant impact on the experience of social play in a way that suggests to me that board game systems are anything but closed.

Thus, the nal question I seek to answer in this book is this: To what extent does the social context of the game encounter shape the experience of game play? Given the questions I have identied here, I hope it is apparent why the scope of this book is at once broad and highly specic. It is specic as it Introduction focuses on a particular type of game and a very particular type of player.

By focusing on hobbyists and eurogames specically, the answers to these questions, while limited in scope, are at least attainable. At the same time, the ground covered by this book is broad. Looking at such a specic subset of play activities requires a multidisciplinary approach.

For example, I cannot talk meaningfully about the eurogame form without considering its history and relation to other board game forms. Nor can I talk of hobbyists without considering the nature of subcultures and the performance of hobbyist culture. Thus, although the core focus of this book concerns play, nothing but broad generalizations can be expected without consideration of the specic game form, player identities and the culture of hobby gaming.

In order to fully explore each of these elements, an eclectic range of disciplines and methods was required. In the course of this book I employ to some degree aspects of history, cultural and subcultural studies, leisure studies, ludology and play theory. It is only by adopting this multi-disciplinary approach that I can hope to adequately answer the questions at the heart of this research. The Study of Games The last forty years or so have seen a signicant change in the position of games within popular culture.

The rise of video games has been swift and continual, to the point that the medium now rivals the commercial and arguably artistic status of motion pictures.

As video games have grown in popularity among the broader population, they have also caught the attention of scholars. Viewing games with a critical eye, they have examined the aesthetic, narrative and systemic elements of video games, documenting the evolution of digital play and examining the nature of the game form with an enthusiasm that has typied the rise of new media. The discipline that has emerged from this interest has been termed ludology.

While modern ludology was originally imagined by Gonzalo Frasca as merely a discipline that studies game and play activities , so far the emphasis has primarily been on video games. Nevertheless, a number of scholars have adopted a more inclusive approach in their work that acknowledges the commonalities between digital and non-digital games. Markku Eskelinen, for example, argues that video games are remediated games Aki Jrvinen, in his book Games Without Frontiers, adopts a wide-ranging approach to the analysis of games that allows for all forms of games, digital or otherwise Salen and Zimmermans textbook, Rules of Play, is similarly inclusive of all game types These are a few examples of writers and scholars whose analysis of games has embraced the entirety of the form.

Unfortunately, despite these proclamations of inclusiveness, board games appear to occupy the same position in the new ludology as they do in the broader culture small primitive ancestors of an evolved form.

It is true that a number of writers who acknowledge the commonality of game forms have argued for the value of examining non-digital games, most notably Eskelinen , p. The rst serious research into sedentary games is that of ethnologist Stewart Culin, who embarked on a number of research projects that sought to collect and compare the wide variety of games that were found in disparate cultures ; ; ; ; In terms of tabletop games specically, the rst book that deals with a variety of examples is H.

Murray analyzed a number of abstract positional games, describing a schema by which they could be categorized.

Bell adopted a similar approach, again limited to positional games, in his Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations David Parletts Oxford History of Board Games adapts both Murray and Bells taxonomies, again with a strong focus on abstract positional games.

Gobet, de Voogt and Retschitzkis Moves in Mind: The Psycholog y of Board Games is another more recent addition to the literature, although its focus is the cognitive and psychological aspects in the play of traditional abstract games.

This emphasis on traditional examples is also reected in the work of the International Society for Board Game Studies. Established in the early s, the society holds a yearly colloquium that has occasionally included papers on contemporary commercial games but is limited mostly to traditional examples. In terms of mass-market board games, Bruce Whitehill has done much to document the evolution of games in the U.

Hobby games have been of only sporadic interest to games scholars, with publications often arising from within the hobby rather than the academy. Wargames are a good example of this, with a number of titles devoted to discussing the form from the perspective of enthusiasts.

More recent critical analysis is found in the work of Matthew Kirshenbaum and Patrick Crogan In contrast, role-playing games have been a site of interest for scholars since their inception.

Daniel Mackays The Fantasy Role Playing Game: A New Performance Art provides a more up-to-date perspective on the performative aspects of the genre; while recent works by Jennifer Cover and Sarah Bowman address a variety of topics, including the creation of narrative and the construction of identity, respectively. The narrative aspects of role-playing games are also explored in a number of articles in Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrup-Fruins series of collections ; ; One notable publication that manages to bridge the gap between video games and hobby games is the collection Gaming as Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games Williams et al.

Taking as its theme fantasy games generally, the book contains a number of illuminating articles on the play and culture of collectible card games. On the topic of eurogames specically, critical writings are few and far between.

Costikyan and Davidson et al. As is apparent from this brief review, to date there are no substantial critical works that address the topic of modern board games, much less eurogames. In the words of Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo, the study of board games has remained a dead science , p. Despite the resurgence of interest in games in general, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to board games and the play experiences they foster.

This book aims in part to ll this gap, as well as to contribute to broader understandings of the adult play of games. Eurogames Design, Culture and Play This book consists of three parts, each of which seeks to address a particular element that contributes to the overall conclusions; these are the game form, the hobbyist player and the experience of play that emerges from the combination of these two. Understanding the Games The rst part of this book is given over to the evolution of tabletop hobby gaming, with a specic focus on the eurogame form.

In order to discuss eurogames and their position as a core genre of hobby gaming, this part of the book examines the history and evolution of Anglo-American hobby games, the nature of the eurogame genre, the geo-cultural site from which eurogames emerged and the adoption of the form by hobbyists. To complement my own research, I conducted interviews with a number of designers, publishers and what might be termed luminaries within hobby gaming culture.

My concern here is a deeper understanding of eurogames as games, and their positioning within the broader spectrum of hobby games. Of course, any examination of games as a participatory form also obligates the researcher to experience the play of them rst hand Aarseth, ; Lammes, , and over the course of this research I played close to different board and table games in both public and private venues.

While the vast majority of these games fell within the connes of the eurogame genre, I also sought to play many titles that have directly or indirectly contributed to the evolution of hobby games.

The expe- Introduction 11 rience of playing these games, together with the examination of the inuences upon their design and a historical review of the tabletop game as a cultural activity, contribute to a situated understanding of the nature of eurogames. Understanding the Players The second part of this book consists of a discussion of board game hobbyists and the broader culture of gaming that nurtures and sustains the hobby.

In order to understand the nature of the hobby community, I analyzed texts produced by players as a meta-aspect of the hobby.

Principle sources were discussions on the online forum boardgamegeek, as well as many other publications that focus on hobby gaming generally and eurogames specically.

Examples include amateur fanzines e. Sumo, Counter , commercial print magazines Knucklebones, Games International , Internet mailing lists and discussion groups rec.

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Coupled with this, I conducted interviews with a number of players and community gures. In November I conducted an Internet-based survey that was made available through the boardgamegeek website. While response rates to individual questions varied, the average for the survey was approximately responses.

The rst part of the survey consisted entirely of quantitative questions designed to extract demographic data along with basic information regarding playing habits frequency, location, etc.

The marriage of this quantitative data with the analysis of discussion and commentary from within the hobby serves to establish a coherent picture of players, along with their understandings of, and performance within, hobby gaming culture.

Understanding the Play The third and nal part of this book concerns the experience of playing games. As mentioned earlier, a number of key questions motivate this part of the enquiry: How do players derive enjoyment from the play of eurogames?

How do players balance the structure of competitive play with the demands of an intimate social gathering?

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To what extent does the social context of the game encounter shape the experience of game play? These survey responses are denoted in this book by the prex R, followed by a number e.

The format of the survey provided results that could not have been gathered through observation. Tying It All Together Informal Participant Observation Participant observation is of particular utility in disciplines like game studies where the object of study is emergent, incompletely understood, and thus unpredictable.

Boellstorff, , p. There is, of course, a lengthy history within the broader area of social sciences of ethnographic research by researchers who are inside the particular subculture they are examining. In the case of this particular book, participant observation has informed the enquiry on three levels: private, local and global.

For the last thirteen years I have been part of a weekly gaming gathering. In the last ten years this has been held primarily in my own home. The types of games played have varied and have included mass-market and hobbyist games. We have also produced other Shona educational books, and continue to Like in European society name.

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The game, Diplomacy , was entirely different to Roberts strategic simulations, relying on the interpersonal negotiating skills of multiple players in the resolution of relatively simplistic board-based conict mechanics.

The expe- Introduction 11 rience of playing these games, together with the examination of the inuences upon their design and a historical review of the tabletop game as a cultural activity, contribute to a situated understanding of the nature of eurogames. Parlett is referring here to a subsection of gaming enthusiasts that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century and whose interests lay largely outside of both classical abstract games and those that dominate the mass-market.

Any gamer who was not a wargamer immediately saw that.