30 June 2018

PinkFae Archive #15: Discrimination in the Geek Community

It's time once again for another article that I wrote for PinkFae. As we continue to reproduce the writing I did over there so as to ensure that it is not lost to the annals of time, we come to the post that I wrote on 20 April 2016.

Directional road signs, one labelled 'us' pointing left, and one labelled 'them' pointing right.

A friend of mine recently posted a link on facebook. This link led to an article about women experiencing harassment at gaming conventions. He also included a link to a second article discussing the same topic. Both articles were, I thought, well written, and described a common problem. The sad truth of the matter is that the geek community does include a lot of discrimination. Obviously, it's most commonly directed at women, but it's not limited to that demographic. There are examples of anti-LGBT+ discrimination as well. I would like to take a moment to discuss my thoughts on this matter today.


I'm going to be discussing some fairly bothersome topics in this post. In order to adequately talk about discrimination, I will have to provide some examples of that discrimination. This will include some language that will be offensive, as well as possible triggers. Please be aware that some of what I am about to say is going to bother some people. Use your best judgement in deciding whether to continue reading beyond this point.

23 June 2018

Transgender Representation in Board Games

I recently found an article on Transgender Representation in Board Games. When I first saw it, I thought, 'I'm not sure how to represent any particular demographic in board games. For example, when I play Power Grid, there are different coloured pieces for each player. There's no gender involved in that in any way!'

What I was forgetting was story-driven games, such as Betrayal at House on the Hill. Apparently, I still suffer the old person mindset of someone who grew up in the 80s with games like Balderdash, Scotland Yard, and Trivial Pursuit, along with still-popular classics such as Monopoly, Sorry, and Scrabble. These games have only colours, no characters at all. Even games that did include characters, like Cluedo/Clue, the characters were not a big part of game play. Although I always knew that the yellow pawn, for example, represented Colonel Mustard, it never felt like I was playing him as a character in the game. The disassociation between the characters and the game itself was pretty strong.

The only game I can think of that really involved gender at all was Life, which boiled everything down to incredibly abstract concepts of 'pink pegs and blue pegs.' There were a lot of games that used characters from existing franchises, such as Star Wars and other movies.

So perhaps I can be forgiven for not immediately thinking of character-based games.

16 June 2018

Board Game Review: Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal

The cover of the game. The title is displayed superimposed over the titular crystal, with the castle of the crystal visible in the background. Along the left side are the four main characters, each in a circular portrait. Along the bottom is a window covered with clear plastic allowing the four miniatures that are the game's playing pieces to be seen.

If you've been paying much attention to this blog at all, you know that I am a major fan of The Dark Crystal. I have been ever since I was a young boy and I saw it when it first released in 1982. So it's no surprise at all that I had to pre-order a copy of the board game the moment I heard it was being released.

Of course, the time has come to review that game. Mount up on your landstrider; we're adventuring in the world of Thra!

Warning: This game (and thus, probably this review as well) contains spoilers for the film. If you haven't watched the movie, you might want to do that before you read this review.

Of course, if you haven't watched the movie, why on earth not? Go watch this amazing film right now! This review assumes that you are familiar with the story and the setting, so if you don't know what skeksis, mystics, garthim, Aughra, or podlings are, this review probably won't make a whole lot of sense.

So, with that said, shall we start with the numbers? Of course we shall!

09 June 2018

PinkFae Archive #14: Children as Players in Roleplaying Games

We are slowly working our way through the archive of articles I wrote for PinkFae. This week, we come to entry number 14, about playing roleplaying games with children. I hope you enjoy it! This article was originally published on 10 April 2016.

Two children, a boy and a girl, each within a couple of years of age ten by appearances, smiling and laughing at a table covered with Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.

A friend of mine recently posted a link to an article about playing D&D with your kids. It was short, but had some interesting points. In particular, there was the part in which the author described a gaming session with his group that includes some parents who'd brought their children to the game. In this particular session, the three-year-old daughter of one of his fellow players was having fun with his miniatures. He states,
...as I was explaining what each monster was she began to ignore me and make up her own names and stories for them all. I smiled and played along with her. As we played however, I noticed that this was really kick starting her imagination. Stories of strange beasts and dragons with giant spiders as pets...
I don't have any children. My wife and I have chosen a different life path for ourselves. But I know several gamers who do have children. John Trobare, whom I interviewed recently, has a few, and he plays board games with them all the time. I don't know if he's ever tried to get them into roleplaying. But I have known other parents who have.

02 June 2018

The End of the Golden Age?

I've written two articles now about the Golden Age of board games. One was published here on this site, and the other was written for PinkFae. The PinkFae article was number 19, so will be appearing here in a few weeks as part of the normal cycle of PinkFae archives.

This is important because in the PinkFae article, I referenced the beginning of the Golden Age. Specifically, I said:
...in 1995, a dental technician from Germany named Klaus Teber released the board game Settlers of Catan. This groundbreaking game combined the best elements of both American and Euro games... [and] sparked a revolution. Suddenly, game designers realised that board games could be fun for everyone without instigating feuds within families or groups of friends. The Golden Age was upon us!
The game was released in the English-speaking world the following year, by Mayfair Games, a company that had existed since 1981. Arguably, this company is responsible for the golden age of board games; by bringing Settlers of Catan to the English-speaking world, Mayfair Games paved the way for the best ideas in two different areas of board gaming to co-mingle and produce the amazing games that exist today. They also published the English-language editions of many of the staples of modern board games: Agricola, Bang!, Tigris and Euphrates, and Patchwork, to name a few.