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Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Imperium Maledictum Core Rulebook at DriveThruRPG
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As someone who has spent well over three quarters of my life playing all manner of games I find myself surprised by many of the responses I get regarding our wonderful hobby. One common reaction that leaves me scratching my head normally comes from those who you’d think would be very open minded and receptive to board and card gaming; video gamers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned to someone (who no doubt has dropped thousands of dollars on PC, PS3, X-Box 360, Wii, PSP, or any number of other systems and their games over the years) that I dig the types of games we discuss around here only to met with a somewhat blank stare. Top that off with the subtle shake of the head and the barely audible “Tsk, tsk, tsk,” from them that comes along with letting them know what we pay for our games leaves me feeling as if I’m some well loved, yet idiot child, that needs to be slowly nudged along back onto the true path of gaming.

I just don’t get it.

Let me point out that this isn’t going to be a tirade against videos games; I’ve been playing computer games since the time of the Vic-20 and not only have a screaming PC gaming rig but also an X-Box and a PS3. I love video games, I really do! But I also need that social interaction our hobby brings to the table. When I want to blow off a little steam from a long day at work, and need some alone time, I’ll probably take some time to play video games. But most of the time I really dig sitting down with people I know, or will soon get to know, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes with our kinds of games.

As a quick side note I’ll let you know that I’m also not going to knock the pricing that we’ve become accustomed to with our hobby. We no longer live in the day when you could stroll into your local KB Toys and pick up Avalon Hill overstock games at five bucks a pop, or AD&D books and modules for a few bucks here and there.  We’ve moved beyond the times when every game company, regardless of size, had a team of developers, designers, editors, and such on staff to simply crank out material “for the house”.  We have moved far beyond the “bookcase” game priced at twenty bucks.

Ah, the Old KB at Harlem and Irving Mall Where Most of the Gaming Gang Used to Pick Up Amazingly Cheap Boardgames

I’m not a designer, developer, nor a company owner so I don’t have the expertise to rattle on about why one product should be priced at $35.00 and another $95.95. And if I do have the expertise, I don’t have enough of an established reputation with the gaming community to attempt to share my observations. For the most part, like many of you, I’m a gamer and that means if I enjoy a game and know that it will get many replays it’s going to be worth my investment. That is unless we’re talking about Games Workshop (whose quality and production values I’ve always thought were top notch and spent years playing – mainly the 40k Epic line) who must have a company mantra that demands I live on ramen noodles or bullion and rice in order to afford every release that comes down their pike.

Which leads me to the point at hand.

The people who shake their heads at the sort of money that we invest in our hobby are the same ones who don’t blink an eye at spending fifty, sixty, or seventy bucks and more (for the collector editions) on video games that will take them no more that 15 or 20 hours to complete. Many times I think that I should be the person muttering and shaking my head.

Sure, there are board and card games that aren’t priced accordingly and I’m certain that all of us have been burned buying a game that we thought looked like the end all/be all of gaming only to find we had been suckered out of our hard earned ducats. This happens to every one of us – of that I have no doubt – yet I can guarantee that we find ourselves on the short end of the stick far less often than the most fanatical of our video gaming brethren. If we add in all the clunkers we’ve bought along the way I know we still get more value for our gaming dollar.

I can say that there are games I’ve purchased, both years ago and much more recently, that easily get about ten or fifteen hours of play on a monthly basis. I might break ‘em out with my gaming gang or introduce the games to someone who’ve never had a chance to check them out. So we can easily assume that I’m getting about 100 hours of play out of the game on a yearly basis. If, by some stretch of the imagination, I spent a hundred dollars on the game that means that I’ve spent about a buck an hour to play. Plus, I know following year when I bring that game out the experience is going to be different depending on who is gaming with me. How great is it that no game, at least good games, never play the same?

I just keep getting more bang for my buck!

I’ll use a great example, or maybe not such a great example because it’s an RPG that pops into my head at the moment, and toss out Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu for consideration. I bought the original edition that came out in 1981 and spent nearly twenty years running games based on H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos. I probably paid around thirty bucks on Sandy Peterson’s system at the time and, even though I bought expansions and scenarios that I really didn’t have to, I can say all the entertainment the game provided for my friends and I probably ran me no more than a few pennies for every hour. Outside of a few massively multiplayer online games, who can say they get that much value out of ANY purchase they’ve ever made? Gaming related or not…

My Old School TGG Friends Will Certainly Remember This One

We won’t even get into all the other benefits of playing more traditional types of games in this post – I’ll save that for a bit later – but I really think it’s time that we make a bit of a stand against the assumption that we must be foolish for spending the kind of money on our games while it’s just an assumption that if you spent the same amount on a video game (which almost no one plays after the first couple months or so until the next year’s edition comes out) everything’s jake.

Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but as I said in the beginning, I really do scratch my head at this disconnect.

I’m sure all of you have very similar experiences with your favorite games and I’d love to hear about them!

5 Comments

  1. Video gamers see the value in the graphics. I say this because I have seen a shift in attitude that started in the Playstation days and has solidified with the current Xbox360 and PS2 generation of video games.

    The term gamer used to refer to one who plays board games, RPGs, CCGs etc. Now it refers to those who play video games. If you mean something else you must modify it to avoid confusion.

    I think it really depends on who we're talking about here. I think a lot of people like video games because they're easy. They can play a standard FPS and get kills no matter how good or bad they are and they don't lose when they get killed, they can come right back into the game.

    I think a good number of video gamers who enjoy the strategy and interaction aspects of the games they play would enjoy board games if properly introduced to them. I think a major problem might be that when they think of board games they think of Monopoly and Risk. The game play is pretty basic so why not play a video game, at least you're getting your money's worth out of the graphics.

    How to properly expose them to board games is another matter entirely. Though maybe it's best to offer to play their games if they will also try out yours.

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  2. I found that for my entertainment dollars, board gaming is a much more durable hobby when compared to video games. Part of that is, with a board game, there is no additional equipment necessary to play the game than what is in the box. Plus, you can play it under a wide variety of conditions, whether the electricity has gone out or you are playing it at your campsite. Video games also lack physical interaction between you and the people you are playing with or against; this is an important facet of the hobby. Social interaction is part of what makes board gaming such an interesting hobby; you can learn a lot about people by how they play a board game. Also, board gaming doesn't necessarily have 'the cult of the new' where you have to have the latest and greatest equipment, game, etc., which usually costs quite a lot. Board gaming can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it; it's a one time cost/fixed expense with no additional requirements needed to enable you to enjoy the product.

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  3. I agree that boardgames are easier to play years from now, but my problem is that videogames typically fit into my immediate needs better. Setup time is drastically quicker with a video game. Also, I can't do single player board games. Maybe I have it stuck in my head that board games are supposed to be social. It just doesn't feel right to sit in front of a board myself. Video games are also quicker to hit save and leave to do something else since walking away from a game isn't an option for me (I have two cats that think board games are the animal version of a Slip and Slide)

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    • I have to say that there have been very few board games I've run across that were solo that I could honestly play more than a time or two. The old Victory Games Ambush series and AH's B-17: Queen of the Skies are two that jump directly to mind though.

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  4. What is amazing is that Board Games are one of the only thing my kids will turn off the video game consoles to play. In fact it is not unusual for my sons to be playing a video game while I am out mowing the lawn or running an errand and for them to come bolting out of their room when I walk back in to greet me with a "Can we play (insert board game name) NOW!?!?!?"

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