Blog Archives

Talking About Games: Making an Example

Wee Aquinas has a bee in his halo.

Continuing our Patreon-funded discussion on the vocabulary of board games criticism, today we’re talking about one of my favorite positive examples.

Welcome back! Once again we’re talking about the need to form a new vocabulary for board games criticism! In part one, we talked about the theme/mechanics divide, which is both as prevalent as a head cold and approximately as useful. In part two, we introduced five categories: setting and theme, components and mechanics, and feedback — an “ephemeral glue,” in Evan Clark’s words — which is where we can begin talking about the coherency or elegance of a game, especially once it enters that interactive space on the table.

Buckle up, because today we’ll be applying those categories to a game you’ve probably played. Its identity will shock you.

Is that click-baity enough?

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Talking About Games: Five Categories

"When will there be a board game about Thomism?"

Following up on my previous Patreon-funded essay, we’re talking about the five categories I use when thinking and writing about board games, and how they might help revolutionize games criticism forever. Hey, I’m nothing if not humble.

The seven elements of fiction. That’s where we left off last time. Character, theme, plot, setting, point of view, struggle, and tone. Seven concepts that are almost universally recognizable to anyone who’s completed a primary education, and which concisely break down nearly any story into its component building blocks. Even those who couldn’t list them off the top of their head would almost certainly recognize them if pressed. “What’s a plot?” they would sputter. “What do you mean, What is a plot? It’s what happens in a story. That or a conspiracy, or maybe a division of farmland. Now please step back, street person with an uncanny interest in the seven elements of style.”

At least that’s what happened when I conducted an informal poll downtown.

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Talking About Games: Mechanics vs. Theme

Aw. Wee Aquinas is growing into his heritage! Soon he'll be talking about heady theological conundrums!

In today’s Patreon-funded essay, we’re dissecting what we talk about when we talk about games — and why we should consider shaking it up.

There’s a reliable conflict in board games, aged about a quarter century, that calls to mind an old feud between noble families, or perhaps a tribal division or a sports rivalry, its root cause lost to the mists of time. Except that isn’t quite true, is it? In this case, we know exactly where the battle-line has been drawn and exactly why.

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