Monday, September 07, 2009

Where have "American games" gone?

Where have "American Games" gone? American games have lots of atmosphere as well as theme. This is as opposed to so many Euro games that have a so-called "theme", but the theme has no effect on actual play. "Atmosphere" induces a feeling in players that they are participating in or about to see something strongly related to the theme. The atmosphere may have nothing to do with reality. For example, the game Winds of Plunder (GMT) has almost nothing to do with the activities of real pirates, but it "feels" like pirates to the players. And in the past, American games included lots of dice rolling. Axis and Allies is an example.

At least one bastion of "new" American games is Fantasy Flight Games. Their new games positively drip with atmosphere, through miniatures and boards that look like artwork and lots of illustrations (usually on lots of cards). But there are rarely any dice. In other words, the "new" American game emphasizes atmosphere, but appeals to Euro players by using no dice. Cards substitute for the chance element, just as in many Euros. The games tend to be more complex than Euros to help maintain the atmosphere ("chrome", anyone?). I don't know whether their many-pieces lots-of-rules (if you include the cards) plastic-piece-dominated games, many designed in-house, have a gameplay that will attract people through many playings, but the atmosphere is immediately attractive. And that's what is needed nowadays to sell games, an immediately attractive atmosphere embodied in the comment "that looks cool, let's play".

More on this another time.

1 comment:

Eric Hanuise said...

There's a bastion of players of american games at
Some articles by Michael Barnes, brash as they may be, are downright insightful.