Saturday, January 01, 2005

Another Fine Mess

About a year ago, I started a hot discussion with, what I thought would be taken as, a slight personal question. I had not yet bought Amun Re, and I was considering doing so. However, for various reasons which I won't repeat here, I asked if there was a way of blacking out all references to sacrifices in the game, as I thought some members of my game group would feel uncomfortable with that theme during play. I would instead come up with some other reason to explain the mechanic. (I did - we now all pay money to the corrupt government official in charge of irrigation.)

For the entire thread, look here:, look for Amun Re.

Well, I posted last week's blog entries on Spielfrieks ( and started another storm. The object of this storm was my statement about Geschenkt: "I can't see why one would buy the game unless you have lots of disposable income." Geschenkt is a game played with 33 cards numbered 3 to 35 and 55 indistinguishable tokens.

The following points ensued:

- That I was implying that those who bought the game were saps for spending their money. (point taken, my bad. I should only have said, "I can't see myself buying the game ...")

- That people buy simple games for many reasons: They want the nice game bits. They want to support the designer, publisher, etc... That playing the game with your own bits after reading the rules could be a form of stealing. That publishers won't realease good games like Geschenkt if people don't buy them. That publishers will stop releasing rules free to the internet. That simple cheap games make nice gifts.

- Some said that they would make a mockup to play a game only: to test the game. if it was out of print. not yet available where they are. etc...

- Very few people outright supported me, I think largely because I didn't really make any particular statement, other than that I wouldn't buy a game with simple components that I could create, and I didn't have a lot of money.

- A few people did mention that many games are available for free on websites, such as BrettSpielWelt, publisher websites, etc... I'm sure there are plenty of people playing online who have no immediate intention of buying all these games.

Some questions are still unanswered:

- If you play the game 100 times with a mockup and then get bored with it, can you then decide not to buy the game? Is it ok to play with a mockup, or is this like a movie, where games are only expected to be enjoyed a certain number of times, anyway?

- Does your own income level factor into this? I wouldn't condone one rule of ethics or law for poor people versus well-off people, but if you know the rules of a game, and you have components to play it, are you forbidden from playing it if you don't actually own the game, because you can't afford to buy it?

- Should we really be encouraging game after game published with the same components just because the idea is good? How many five suited decks do we really need to buy, just because someone came up with a new idea of how to play with them?

- Are we obligated to support the game industry? Doesn't buying only games that we feel are worth it count? Does the game industry really need are support? Is supporting the game industry really going to get us better games, or would it be better to expect publishers to realize that the public will only buy games that include substantial components?

- Are game ideas patentable?

Questions go on and on. The notable aspect about both of these discussions, with a very minor exception or two during the Amun Re discussion, is that much of the discussion was high level and without rancor. I think that says a lot about the people in this community.


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