BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Report: UK Toy Fair 2009

The UK’s annual Toy Fair ended today after a four-day run at the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands.

Although the fair has plenty more toys than its does actual games, it’s still worth a visit for the game enthusiast, and anyone interested in the industry. I went along on Thursday and here are just a few of the things that caught my eye…

LEGO board games

High atop the large LEGO stand was an intriguing black-box meeting room, which was clearly hiding some important business secrets. The not-so-cryptic decoration suggested some very interesting possibilities.

No-one on the stand would tell me exactly what was hidden up there, but I was told that all would be revealed in August. Well, the news has broken rather sooner than that and it’s clear that LEGO are moving into the roll-and-move family board game market. And those LEGO dice sure look neat!

Army of Zero

I had a really nice chat with Steve Mainprize (what a great name for a gamer!), who is the designer and publisher of the new Army of Zero card game. I had spotted the game only a few days before attending the fair on BoardGameGeek and BGDF so was on look out for his stand.

Steve has very much taken the game-publishing bull by the horns and has single-handedly brought his game to market. As someone harbouring a similar dream it was inspiring to hear about his experience and see his game in the flesh. Steve said that getting this far had been twice as much work as he’d thought and that he knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game marketed and distributed (that’s the bit that gives me nightmares!) but he was clearly passionate about his product.

Win, lose or draw, it’s a great story. Good luck Steve!

Richard Edward — UK playing card printers

And speaking of producing my own game, I also had a really productive chat with a very helpful and informed rep for Richard Edward, a UK-based playing card printers. They are based in south London and call themselves the UK’s only ‘wholly integrated card manufacturer’ — which I think means that unlike their competitors they can do everything in house, including packaging.

It was fun talking to them and also very educational — I learnt a new phrase: ‘integrated euro hook’. That's what the ‘cardboard sticky-out bit with a hole in it’ part of a card game tuckbox is called by those in the know.

Qb Word Game

And last but not least I also spoke to John Chambers of JC Games Ltd, who was there to promote his new twist on the dice-based word game, succinctly called Qb. It looks like a really nice package and deserves to do well.

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Game Design 101: Eureka!

Game design, like any other form of design, is at its heart a creative enterprise and so relies on an initial spark of creative insight — that ‘Eureka!’ moment — to even get going. But that really is just the beginning; the designer must them apply himself (or herself!) to the business of developing that idea into a fully realised game, a process that (in my experience) always presents a succession of additional ‘Eureka!’ moments, each just as remarkable and surprising as the original one.

What is it that inspires anyone to create anything?

This seems a deeper and more profound question than I am prepared to tackle, but if I were to try I’d start by pointing out the distinction between art and design: namely that the latter is concerned with answering questions, and the former is all about asking them. That may seem (and possibly is) a little too trite to actually be interesting, but when I worked as a professional web designer I was very much aware of how my design efforts needed to be focused on solving commerical problems (that is, answering the business’s questions) and were not primarily an opportunity for me to express and explore my own creative ideals.

Which is not to say that the work was never intellectually or creatively rewarding, but rather to observe that it was principally the product of a financial arrangement and was therefore, at times, mundane. Having said that the commerical imperative was a fantastic discipline: it demanded a constant stream of creative output, delivered to deadlines and against clearly defined functional requirements. The result was never high art; fortunately it didn’t need to be.

The design process is essentially the search for and creation of a solution to a problem, and for ‘good’ design to be classified as such it must at least be ‘fit for purpose’ (it may be high art as well, but that isn't a requirement). The flipside of this statement is the observaton that there are only two reasons for bad design: either you didn’t understand the problem, or you simply weren’t smart enough to solve it.

What is interesting to me about game design is that it is generally a single individual who is responsible for both setting and solving the problem. I say ‘generally’ since it does happen that a game designer is commissioned by another party to create a game for a specific purpose or market, and in those cases the problem is at least in part defined by that other party. However this is not the norm even with professional game designers, and is certainly not the case with the legion of hobbyist designers (like me) who create games in a vacuum, without any received sense of wisdom or direction, and who, though perhaps all the while dreaming of commercial success, do it otherwise and overwhelmingly just for the sheer intellectual delight.

The beginning

So, to return to the beginning and consider again the genesis of a game, I suggest that the game designer must begin not with a moment of clarity about a solution, but with a moment of revelation about a problem. Here are a few examples taken from my personal canon:

  • Can I reuse the cards from a commercial game to create a better, more playable, more intuitive game that preserves the rich theme of the original?
  • What about a card game that makes use of both sides of the cards, so that when the cards are held in the hand by the players, all the information on the front is private, and all the information on the back is public? How would that work? What sort of game would that be?
  • What’s the minimum number of cards with which you can create an interesting game for three players?

These may appear surprisingly specific, and it’s true that these ideas have now inevitably been post-rationalized and so appear far more cogent and well-formed than they did at the time, but each one does articulate the core of a game idea that I have since worked into a playable prototype.

These are all problems that I have set myself, and these ‘Eureka!’ moments, when they came, did so largely unbidden. I didn’t sit down with the express purpose of ‘having an idea’; they simply presented themselves ex nihilo. So if I return to my original question and ask again ‘What is it that inspires anyone to create anything?’ am I any closer to an answer?

No, but I have perhaps now better understood the question. It might be natural to assume that the essential spark of creativity with which the question concerns itself is contained in the act of making, of creating, but I think there is a yet more essential insight, one contained in the far less tangible act of thinking of the act in the first place. The ‘how’ is the answer to this instinctive question of ‘why’. And why would I — why would anyone — ask themselves such curious questions? This is a question I am scarcely capable of understanding, let alone answering, so I shall instead concern myself with a far more workmanlike one: ‘How?’

The middle

How do I design a game? For me this is a process of discovery, beginning with a question and with little else. The act of asking the question may immediately bring forth ideas about what a solution might look like, but these are always initially abstract and generalized. And often what happens is that the process of searching for a solution generates corollaries and clarifications to the original problem. In other words, I find myself amending my original question to better fit my answers.

The classical tenet of design is ‘form follows function’, which is just another way of restating (more efficiently!) my notion that design is about creating a solution (the ‘form’) to a problem (the ‘function’). However, the simplistic implication of the statement is that the intellectual flow is all one way, that function comes wholly after form. To quote Ben Goldacre, rightly respected for debunking many other boldly simplistic arguments (albeit mostly about science, not board games or even design) ‘I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.’

To get back to the business of game design, part of what can be exciting about the process is that you never really know what you’re going to get. After you’ve pulled the trigger on a new design idea, the trajectory is uncertain and the target unseen. Ideas that begin as a simple card game, with limited objectives, can uncontrollably balloon into more complex designs, drawing in more ideas and game mechanisms and elements of play. Or, conversely, initially sprawling games can, through a process of seemingly enevitable distillation, resolve themselves to something remarkably simple.

Game design can be seen as the iterative result of constantly asking and answering a single question: ‘What is this game about?’ I don’t mean this in the theatrical sense of a game’s applied narrative or theme (which in any case many games don’t have) nor in the more procedural sense of how a game is actually played (its rules). To me, asking what a game is ‘about’ is the singular modus operandi of its designer, and represents the process of investigating the emergent nature of a game.

Or put the question another way: Given the specifics of a game, given its narrative, components and rules, given all the many deliberate and deliberated upon design decisions, what happens when people actually play it?

The end

What a fearsome and enlightening question that is! The road to hell, after all, is paved with good intentions, and it’s an all-too common experience to spend far too long honing the details of a new game only to have the entire edifice crumble as soon as it is played. The game stops being the purely mathematical, abstracted exercise it was in the mind of the game designer, and immediately becomes a social one that has to survive the real-life rigours and randomness of the game player.

Reiner Knizia, a God-amongst-men of so-called ‘eurogame’ designers, does not describes himself as a game designer, but as an ‘entertainer’. His point is well made, and he has surely entertained millions. A stricter interpretation of Dr Knizia’s point might be to suggest that any game that fails to entertain its players isn’t actually a game at all, and that part of a game’s definition must be that it can be enjoyed as a recreation.

Certainly, any game that fails to entertain is a bad game, or at the very least a broken or incomplete one. Creating such a game is clearly not any designer’s intent, but divining what constitutes ‘entertainment’ is hardly straightforward. Individual games will of course only ever appeal to (and hence entertain) a subset of the people who play them.

How, then, do I as a game designer judge the ‘goodness’ of one of my designs? It can’t be done without letting it out to be played in the wild, but neither can any single player's assessment be taken as a final verdict. I believe that any game idea can yield a good game, provided it is pursued for long enough; that a good game is ‘out there’ waiting to be found, regardless of where you started. Part of the trick then is stubborn persistence; the rest is a mixture of learned skills, conceptual luck and simply knowing when to stop.

The process of designing a game is hence revealed as a game all of its own.

When playing a game the goal is to win – but it is the goal that is important, not the winning.’

Reiner Knizia

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Biting the Hand that Feeds

Keeping tabs on lots of different board game websites and blogs isn’t easy, and needing to do so has finally revealed to me the utility of RSS feeds and feed aggregators. I was always a bit clueless about what, exactly, RSS was and why I should be interested in it, but I think now that I have seen the light.

Not that it’s been all smiles: I’ve had the most problems linking reliably to the feed for this site (click the little orange icon on the right if you want to subscribe). Something about my blog and the interaction of its feed with the tech-triumvirate of Blogger, Feedburner and Google Reader is not quite as it should be, which is surprising (since they’re all Google-owned) and difficult to whinge too loudly about (since they’re all absolutely free).

Perhaps in time their collective mysteries will be revealed!

Update: After more investigation, including finding some very helpful posts on the Blogger and Google Reader user groups from some similarly frustrated users, it seems that the problem I was having (manifest by old deleted posts from this blog appearing in Google Reader, even though they are not in the feed anymore) is, as the Google-geeks have it, a ‘feature’ not a ‘bug’.

The Google Reader help pages don’t make it very easy to contact an actual person about this, but perhaps if enough people go to their Known Issues page, expand the ‘Deleted posts still appear in my feed’ element and click the ‘Let us know’ button (see how easy that was!) then perhaps Google will be minded to reconsider it’s engineering decisions and fix this problem.

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Learning the Rules

My shiny new blog has only been around for a little over a week, but creating it has already taught me a few things I didn’t know, both about the experience of writing a blog, and what I want to achieve with it.

Creating a blog

The blog runs on Blogger, a free service started back in the glory days when blogging was a minority sport, that is now part of the don’t-be-evil empire (Google, that is). The key word there is ‘free’, since any complaints I have must be tempered by the fact that I’m getting something (a great deal in fact) for nothing.

For anyone looking to set up a simple blog, Blogger is ideal. It does all the work for you and allows someone — anyone — to get up and running in no time. Under the hood however, and to anyone with any amount of web design experience, it’s simplistic elegance is only skin deep. Not that it isn’t powerful (and, as I said, not to ignore the fact that is is, you know, free) but scratching at the surface to discover and harness that power can be a frustrating experience.

For several years I worked as the technical design lead for a major online retailer in the UK, which meant that I was responsible for defining not only how the site looked, but also how that design was engineered underneath; and I was always at pains to finesse both of those aspects as much as possible. In this respect Blogger does indeed do all the heavy lifting, but I would argue that it’s just a little careless about how it puts everything down. As something of a purist when it comes to HTML and CSS (the building blocks of web design) Blogger’s approach, though perfectly workmanlike, does pain me a little.

P.S. I am additionally using the Tumblr platform to power the ‘Bitespiel’ links and it works like a charm. (What is Tumblr? It seems to be something pitched inbetween Twitter and Blogger, although I’m no expert. Whatever it is, it’s dead handy.)

Writing for the web

Writing at all isn’t easy, but writing effectively for the web is even more difficult. And I say this not as someone who has preternaturally perfected this skill, but as someone who realises the exact opposite. For starters I find it very difficult to avoid some of the idiosyncratic flourishes of my own speech patterns, such as meaningless interjections (like ‘for starters’), long words (like ‘preternaturally’) and needlessly complex sentences (like this one).

Being an effective journalist doesn’t mean having to abandon these stylistic touches completely, reducing everything to a soulless parade of facts, but I think it probably pays to be frugal with them. Only time will tell whether I learn to do so.

Playing games

The lesson here appears to be that I don’t play nearly enough of them(!), and that it’s possible that I have rather over-intellectualized the time I spend gaming (that’s code for ‘too much thinking, not enough doing’). Creating the blog has meant even more time devoted to reading about board games on the internet. Fascinating and necessary, perhaps, but totally missing the point.

As Shakespeare put it: ‘The play’s the thing!’

Designing games

The stated aim of this blog is talk about board game design, both as a practical hobby and an intellectual pursuit, and that hasn’t changed. But I have realised that it’s going to be difficult to talk about it meaningfully without also talking about a whole lot of other things.

This observation isn’t intended to articifically elevate board game design, but rather to place it properly amongst the many, many other essentially creative endeavours that are never only about the thing itself. Creativity, in whatever form it expresses itself, is by its nature both a complex and wholly personal exercise.

To quote Sondheim: ‘Work is what you do for others. Art is what you do for yourself.’

Publishing games

So much for my high-minded ideals, let us now get down to brass tacks. A less clearly articulated goal of this blog is to explore my own adventures in board game publishing, either by having one of my own designs published by someone else, or by skipping the middle man entirely and publishing it myself. Which is the point at which the hobby possibly starts to resemble something else: a business.

Making any money (let alone a reasonable living!) from board games isn’t easy, but it is demonstrably possible. Unfortunately for me it is going to require, quite apart from the aforementioned high-minded ideals and intellectual somersaults, actual practical effort and (to return to Shakespeare) there’s the rub.

I would ask that you wish me luck, but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough!

Happy gaming!

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Lucca Games Gioco Inedito 2009

Hot on the heels of the Boulogne-Billancourt design competition comes news that the theme for this year’s Lucca Games ‘Premio per il Miglior Gioco Inedito’ (Best Unpublished Game Award) has been announced.

Lucca Comics & Games is an international exhibition held in Italy every year. The competition is an established part of the exhibition and is open to all (or at least to anyone able to submit the rules for their prototype game in Italian or English). The unique features of this competition is that the entries must be pure card games (no additional components are allowed) and must all be inspired a common theme. The theme for 2009 is the slightly cryptic ‘15 minutes’, although this has the deliberate benefit of being open to many interpretations.

A prize worth winning

For the past few years the competition has been run in association with daVinci Games who provide the prize for the competition, which is — in addition to gaming fame and glory! — a professionally designed and published edition of the winning game. I have a particular fondness for the art of card game design. The playing card is a fantasically versatile gaming component, and the fact that the rules of this competition demand that cards must be the only component encourages this versatility to be exploited to the full.

Fortunately for any budding card game designers the competition organizers have allowed a generous period in which to develop a brand new game around the theme of ‘15 minutes’ — you have until June 30th!

Since 2004 daVinci has published the following winning games:

  • 2004: Lucca Città by Alessandro Zucchini
  • 2005: F.A.T.A.L. by Gabriele Rabbini & Martina Mealli
  • 2006: Borneo by Paolo Mori (reimplemented as a board game)
  • 2007: Amerigo by Din Li
  • 2008: SOS Puccini by Stefano Castelli (to be published in 2009)

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Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société 2009

The word goes out to all fellow game designers that the rules and registration details for this year’s Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société are now available online. The competition is run annually by the Boulogne-Billancourt Game Library (the ‘Ludothèque’) and this will be the 28th International Parlour Game Designers’ Competition run by the group, which is based in Paris, France.

I only discovered the competition’s existence in 2007 (although too late in the year to enter), but in 2008 I entered my tile-laying board game Terraform into the competition. The first step was to submit the rules of the game and a description of a few rounds of play, along with a photo. I was fortunate enough to have my game selected for the second round of the competition in which the team at Boulogne-Billancourt request full playable prototypes of around 50 games, from which the finalists are chosen.

Having never entered a game design competition of any sort before, nor had one of my designs played by anyone other than family or friends, I was thrilled to reach the second round (I’ve included a few photos of my prototype game components below). Unfortunately my game didn’t make the grade as one of the 13 finalists, but when my prototype was returned it came with a written report that included both some feedback from the people who played it and it’s overall ranking — the game had been placed 17th out of 51, which was a very gratifying result.

But if you (like I) wish to enter, then there’s no time for delay! The submission window for this year’s competition is only open until February 14th.

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Game Design 101: What is a Game?

This is the first in a series of posts in which I will attempt to discuss my thoughts about aspects of board game design. That’s a big subject, so it might take some time to cover everything(!), but it seems the best place to start is at the beginning, and to try to answer that most essential of questions: What, exactly, is a game?

I’ll start this article by proposing a tentative definition of what a ‘game’ might be and then go on to explore how I am choosing to interpret it, and my reasons for doing so. As a philosophical exercise I am fully prepared for this to go horribly wrong, so let us together light the blue touch-paper and stand well back…

Game (noun):
‘A competition for the acquisition of value.’

Now, this may seem sublime or ridiculous — profound or blindingly obvious — at first sight. EIther way, it does at least have the benefit of being short. It is also deliberately general. My interest may be focused on board games, but clearly those are a but a small subset of all possible games. They have their own design constraints and goals, their own conventions and vocabulary, and they create their own expectations in their own audience, but I think all games must have at their core a simple, common concept.

The notion of what a game is may be easy to intuit for most people but is perhaps less easy to describe accurately and succinctly. However I’m going to give it go. I’m game.

Let’s define terms

The definition contains just seven words, and of those only three carry any weight: ‘competition’, ‘acquisition’ and ‘value’.

‘Competition’

I think any game must a priori (as the Romans might have put it) be competitive, and the most straightforward interpretation of this is that there has to be at least two people playing it. Now, this is a more contentious statement than it might appear to be; after all, there are plenty of pastimes that might commonly be called a ‘game’ that can also be labelled as ‘solitaire’ (there are literally thousands of different solitaire card games playable with a standard deck of cards). So am I excluding these games from my definition? Actually, yes I am!

So-called ‘solitaire games’ are, I would suggest, ‘puzzles’ not ‘games’. When you play a game of Klondike (to pick a familiar example from the universe of solitaire card games) there is no intelligent agent at work against you and hence there is no competition. Each time you play you shuffle the cards and that randomized deck presents a puzzle for you to solve; it might not even be a very good puzzle since there are many different ways the cards can be ordered and some of those can never be played out (that is, ‘solved’) regardless of the choices you make. (In those cases I wouldn’t even call the endeavour a puzzle, since I think a puzzle must a priori have a solution, but that’s another story!)

Does this mean there are no games that you can play on your own? No, not at all. We are all surrounded by ‘intelligent agents’ that we can happily, and quite legitimately, play a game against. Playing Connect 4 on your mobile phone (indeed, with your mobile phone) is clearly a competition, and one that your mobile phone can quite happily win. If you play a solitaire card game and ‘lose’, it doesn't make sense to say that the deck of cards ‘won’; what happened was that you failed to solve the particular puzzle presented to you by that particular sequence of cards.

So, in short, games and puzzles are different things, and for something to be called a ‘game’ it needs to have at least two players (otherwise known as ‘intelligent agents’, although, like me, you might struggle to apply that epithet to some of the people you play games with!). When it comes to the specific case of a physical board game (the sort that comes in a box and you can play on your dining room table) this means two or more actual people. Anything less and you are, quite literally, on your own.

‘Acquisition’ & ‘Value’

I’m going to talk about these two concepts together, since to me they represent the ‘how’ and ‘why’ — or, if you like, the ‘means’ and the ‘motive’ — of a game.

When you play a game you and your opponents are not free to do anything you like, and nor are your actions without purpose. You play (most of the time) by the rules and you are generally all trying to achieve the same thing: namely to win. Hence any game must come equipped with definitions of these methods and objectives.

The victory conditions of individual games are many and various, and the way in which a game ascribes ‘value’ to the results of your actions is key. If as a game progresses you gain points, and eventually the player with the most points wins, then the notion of value is a simple one. Just ask yourself: ‘How many points do I have?’

Not all games are this literal, however. The object of the game Uno is to get rid of all your cards in each round, and the first person to do so scores precisely zero points. All the other players score positive points based on the cards left in their hands, and the winner is the player with the least number of points at the end of the game.

Does this mean that my definition is too limiting? No, but it does mean that we need to consider the term ‘value’ as an abstract and flexible concept, and one that each game is free to define in its own way. The player who has acquired the greatest value by the end of the game will always be the winner, but in the case of Uno we simply need to understand that the ‘value’ of our actions decreases when we score more points.

And how we as players ‘acquire’ that value is simply the sum of all the possible actions (in all possible circumstances) that the rules allow us to take.

So, just to be clear…

This may indeed all seem a rather tortuous way of explaining the blindingly obvious, but I think there is value in being thorough. This is a way for me to start from first principles, so that when I begin to consider more specific aspects of game design I have something solid to work from.

I may well be forced in the future to revisit my definition of a game, or at the very least refine my interpretation of it; if so it will doubtless be an educational experience!

Happy gaming!

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Game Review #001: Marrakech

Marrakech by Dominique Ehrhard is a quick and light game of dice rolling and carpet laying for 2–4 players, ages 6+, in which you attempt to manoeuvre Assam the carpet merchant around the local souk, laying your own coloured carpets as you go, and hoping to gain payouts should your opponents have the misfortune to land on them in later turns.

The game was nominated, perhaps surprisingly given its simplicity, for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in 2008. It didn’t win (the honours went instead to Reiner Knizia for Keltis, his souped-up multi-player version of the now-classic Lost Cities) but its nomination has assured the game a bigger audience than it might otherwise have had, and Gigamic’s elegant production makes it all the more attractive.

See more: Game Reviews…

In the box you get a board, four stacks of coloured felt 'carpets', and a handy draw-string cloth bag containing the wooden money, the Assam figure and the custom, over-sized dice. The only shortcoming is that the four sets of carpets are not provided in equal number: there are 15 of three colours, plus 12 of the other colour. This is because in a 4-player game each player only needs 12 carpets, while in a 3-player game each player takes 15. All well and good, but I’d rather have had the ability to choose any combination of player colours when playing with any number of players. The manufacturers have spared themselves only 3 carpets after all — a cost saving, of course, but not (one imagines) a very large one. The result however is a minor annoyance, at least to this gamer!

However, this is the only shortcoming of the components, which are all otherwise top-notch and in addition rather charming: cloth is such an unusually tactile material to find in a game, and the wooden money chips make a nice difference from the plastic or cardboard chips that most other games use. The rules, which are presented in a fairly dull one-colour booklet, are however refreshingly short and straightforward.

In each turn you have the option to turn Assam left or right (or leave him be) before rolling the dice. You must then move him in a straight line the distance indicated on the roll (1–4 spaces, although crucially 2 and 3 are twice as likely as either 1 or 4). If you land on an opponents carpet you must pay them based on the area of their carpet connected to Assam's position, and finally you lay one of your own carpets alongside Assam, possibly on top of other carpets. All very simple and straightforward… possibly rather too straightforward: one might ask whether there any meaningful tactical or strategic choices at all.

Happily, there are! And happily, too, luck can intervene. For example players can push their luck with the dice, possibly risking a payout themselves, in the hope of directing Assam in a more favourable direction that could lead to a bigger reward later. At times the choice of which way to face Assam at the beginning of your move may seem automatic, but this is only because of the carpet laying choices already made by your opponents in earlier turns. It’s no game of chess, but neither is it so random that meaningful tactics and (to a lesser degree) strategy don’t arise. And it’s all over in around 30 minutes, by which time the multi-coloured carpets can be piled high and the scores can be surprisingly close.

So Marrakech has to get a big thumbs-up. I and my family all enjoyed it tremendously over Christmas, and although the youngest of us is 37(!) I’m sure far younger families would enjoy it just as much, and that it would be an excellent introduction to the delights of gaming for all.

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And So It Begins…

As someone once said (and lots of people have oft repeated) even a journey of a thousand miles must start with a single step, and it’s hard to disagree. This is my first step. As for my journey, only time will tell.

And even this first step has been painfully slow in coming. Starting a blog is a fine new year's resolution, but to be credible it really ought to be this year’s resolution, rather than being one that's been knocking around for ages. However, if this really is to be the beginning of something with a bit of substance, perhaps it would best to put in writing what I hope the blog will be about.

So, in no particular order, here goes:

  • The blog will mostly, and primarily, be about board game design. This is something I have become increasingly interested in over the past 8 years or so. As a family, we always played board games, and so perhaps it is something that has been growing since I was old enough to roll a dice, but as a more serious interest things really only kicked off in 2001. Now, board game design is a fairly broad topic — or at least a not particularly well-defined one — so we’ll have to wait and see exactly how things work out, but as of now one of the things I spend much of my freetime doing is designing my own games, and as for the future… well, I sincerely hope to become a published designer, an ambition which is hopefully soon to be realised. Stay tuned!
  • I may well also discuss puzzles: brainteasers, that is, not jigsaws. These are another family endeavour and though certainly related to board games intellectually they are different beasts. Several people recently have sneered when I have corrected their semantics on this issue, but perhaps another thing I can do in this blog is articulate the difference (as I see it).
  • There’s also likely to be some current affairs thrown in for good measure, although I shan’t drag the discourse down to gutter politics, rather just a little popular culture or maybe even some popular science. I am a physical scientist and mathematician by education, after all.
  • And lastly, but by no means leastly, they’ll be some personal stuff too… but more on that matter, and indeed all the other ones, anon.

And so anyone out there with either the compulsion or the plain dumb luck to be reading this I welcome you to my blog! Bon voyage!

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