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Thanksgaming 2019! - 5 Things We're Thankful For This Holiday
Happy Thanksgiving! This weekend, we celebrate the holiday by giving thanks for all the things that we appreciate in our lives. Being a game store however, there are a few things that we here at Mission: Fun & Games and boardgames.ca are thankful for that may differ from the usual gratitudes you’re likely to hear while passing around the turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. Here are 5 Thanksgaming things we’re thankful for this holiday!
1.Well Laid Out Rule Books
There’s a piece of advice that we have always taken to heart: “be grateful for the little things.” Thus, we’re going to start this list off with a little piece of board game design that we are always extremely thankful for: well laid out rule books.
Learning a new game often takes a lot of time and effort, especially if there is no one to teach you. The essential role of the rule book is to communicate the mechanics of a game in a way that is clear, concise, and accessible. At least, that’s what you’d expect.
Despite this, there are many a rule book in the world of tabletop gaming that are not only difficult to read, but are obtuse to the point of needing a cryptographer to decode. Vague wording, complex concepts being explained before basic ones, nonsensical paragraph layout, no index - these things act as barriers between the players and learning the game, and they show up all too frequently in the rule books of even the newest games. And don’t get us started on typos!
This is why, when a rulebook comes along that contains a good layout, excellent graphic design, clear writing, and intuitive rules, it feels like a religious epiphany. Cross references, sidebars, indexes, and summary pages, are all tools for increasing the clarity of your rule book, and when used properly can even make it a pleasure to read. Little additional touches like art and flavour text can be nice too, provided they don’t distract from the rules themselves. These can always be saved for the game itself.
The faster that players can internalize the rules, the faster they can get around to having fun, and a well designed rule book makes it that much faster and easier to do so.
2. On Time Releases
If you’ve ever Kickstarted a board game, table top accessory, or RPG book, chances are at one point or another you’ve found yourself worrying about whether or not the item you pledged for will come out on schedule. Delays are not unusual with Kickstarted projects, and it’s never a good feeling when you get that backer email saying that the game you’ve been hyped for will be delayed a few weeks because there was a mistake at the printers. Although delays sometimes occur for reasons entirely out of the control of the publishers, uncertainty surrounding a game’s release can quickly undermine consumer confidence. In the worst case scenario, a game can be delayed for months, or may not ship at all.
And so, this year we are thankful to the publishers and kickstarters who manage to get their games out on time. Project planning and management is an underrated skill in games design, and publishers that prioritize these skills not only save themselves the headache of dealing with problems down the line - they also ensure that they will have happy repeat customers when their next project comes around.
3. Well Designed Inserts
A few weeks ago, we published a “4 Tips For Protecting and Maintaining Your Board Games” article here on boardgames.ca. In it, we mentioned that many of the games that find their way to the market come with inserts that don’t quite get the job done or, often enough, don’t come with any insert at all. Needless to say, this makes sorting and maintaining your game components a difficult prospect.
That’s why this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for those designers and publishers who put in the extra effort to include a well designed insert in their games. Not only does it save us the time and money it would take to buy and assemble a separate insert, a good insert upon opening a new box helps us to immediately identify each of the games components and to familiarize ourselves with them as we learn how to play. Anything that shortens the time between opening the box and taking your first turn is a reason to be thankful.
4. Designers and Publishers
We hope that this statement isn’t too controversial, but: board games are art. There, we said it.
Board games engage us in so many ways: they entertain us, educate us, and help us develop ourselves through play. They can make us laugh, make us cry, make us curse, or make us think deeply about something we haven’t considered before. Their interactive nature allows them a unique approach to delivering meaning (a trait they share with few other mediums, save video games) and for people with a hands on learning style, they can be one of the best ways to develop new skills in math, reading comprehension, pattern recognition, and spatial awareness. For these reasons, board games hold a special place in the pantheon of artistic mediums.
But all of these things that make board games wonderful wouldn’t be possible without the people that make them. Board games, much like film, theater, and video games, is a collaborative art form, requiring many people and many hours to bring into being. Designers, artists, writers, playtesters, printers - these are the people responsible for bringing the games we love to life, that put in the hours to turn an idea into something that we can hold in our hands.
And so, we hope you join us in doffing our hats to the individuals that put so much time and effort into the games that we love - thank you all!
And finally, there is one last thing that we have to be thankful for this holiday - and that’s all of you!
Tabletop gaming is as much about the people you play with as it is the games you play. The communities we build around the table - whether they be a group of friends, colleagues, or family - help us forge social connections that extend far beyond the confines of a single game. Some of the strongest friendships are born in the time between turns, minutes spent discussing strategy, gentle ribbing and rivalry, or even idle chat that has nothing to do with the game itself.
Other times, games can serve as an unexpected connection between strangers, a mutual love for a specific game acting as an icebreaker in a hobby that - let’s be honest here - is filled to the brim with introverts. One of the little joys of working at a game shop is seeing one customer noticing another holding a game in their hand and walking over to them to begin a spontaneous conversation. Heck, this is something we end up doing a lot ourselves.
This is why, despite the meteoric rise of online shopping, friendly neighbourhood game stores like ours are still kicking. To us, a games store isn’t just a place to buy things, it’s also a place where our community can come together, providing a space in which those who love games can gather and express their love for the medium and for each other. This is why we love running events in our game room - from the weekly Pokemon leagues filled with energetic younglings, to our store puzzle championships that give families a fun day out. A table is nothing until someone sits down at it.
So to cap off this article, we’d like to express our thanks to all of you - customers, friends, and family - that give Mission: Fun & Games and boardgames.ca a reason to exist. Without you, there would be no castle.
Mission: Fun & Games and boardgames.ca wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!