Why I love board games

Shut-Up and Sit-Down Present: The Board Game Golden Age

I love this video and hate it at the same time for being able to express everything I’ve been saying about board games in an entertaining instead of meandering fashion. It’s a 40 minute video with some profanity, but that profanity is pretty casual over in the UK. Definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, it resulted in my adding more games to my wish list…which isn’t such a bad thing in the long run.

Settlers of Catan and game balance

The Settlers of Catan is an incredibly popular Eurogame (that is, European-style board game, which means less and less every year) that many credit for inspiring the current generation of more complex board games. The game consists of a (usually) randomly generated board made up of hexagons that each contain a resource. Players place settlements on the board at the vertexes of these hexagons and gain resources each time the number associated with a particular hexagon is rolled. Unlike some other games, this means that players actually gain things even when it is not their turn. Resource cards are used to build roads and more settlements, which earn players point and ultimately bring about the end of the game.

Some people consider this game a newer, better version of Monopoly. Basically, as you expand and create new settlements, you are acquiring new property. These new settlements also help you gain more resources, which are certainly a form of wealth. Also similar to Monopoly, the game seems to only reward the already wealthy. You did notice that about Monopoly, right? Continue reading “Settlers of Catan and game balance”

Metal Gear Rising’s existentialism

Metal Gear has largely been a series that waxes philosophically about life and war. It discusses the futility of war but also the question of what soldiers have left when there is nothing but peace. These ideas are not explored in any great detail, but it is nice to have a series of games that touches on them when many of the top-selling games seem to go out of their way to celebrate war and violence. Then, just to avoid the hypocrisy that plagues many violent films that ultimately are about peace, the Metal Gear Solid series of games allows the player to complete them without actually killing any of the enemies (well, maybe some bosses…) and may even provide rewards for it.

So what is there to explore in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game that was quite explicitly built around the game mechanic of being able to cut almost everything with a sword? Continue reading “Metal Gear Rising’s existentialism”

Fringe ends

Another great sf television show was lost last Friday. Fringe was a show that I got into late – and I understand very clearly that I am part of the problem because of that. We are offered so few challenging shows on television, so it is up to us to not only support them but also share them with other potential viewers. I failed to get on board sooner, mostly thanks to the fact that the first season is merely adequate. It doesn’t sell the high concepts that came in the later seasons. Continue reading “Fringe ends”

The Superior Spider-Man

“That’s stupid!”

“It’s just going to return to the status quo in a year anyway!”

“Worst thing since ‘One More Day’!”

Those are the most common reactions to the conclusion of The Amazing Spider-Man #700. Continue reading “The Superior Spider-Man”

Amazon provides you a digital copy

If you haven’t checked your Amazon account in a while, you really should make your way there and to their Cloud Player. Every physical album you’ve purchased since 1998 will automatically be uploaded to your personal Amazon Cloud Player, so long as Amazon currently has the digital rights to the albums. This means that you have a free digital copy stored online that you can listen to and download at any time. Great move!

This is honestly something of which I would like to see more. The current climate of physical or digital doesn’t make sense to me. Every item that you purchase physically should automatically grant you access to a digital copy, especially if it is an item that is so easily copied anyway. This would be a great value for consumers, especially those who are collectors. Not to mention the fact that, while digital sales haven’t overtaken physical sales in all mediums, this could help to keep jobs in production factories. Digital-only should remain an option, but I don’t see the point.

Imagine a world in which you still get the tactile pleasure of flipping through pages of the latest novel or comic, popping open your new DVD/Blu-ray or video game, or inserting your latest CD into a player with full knowledge that should anything happen to them they are backed-up. Or that they are accessible to you while not physically in your presence. The future isn’t simply the digital revolution brought through MP3 players, e-readers, and streamed video. The future consists of options and access for media for which you paid.