This article reprinted by kind permission of Ravage magazine.
We live in the Golden Age of Gaming.
Look around and you find more companies than ever before producing games and games paraphernalia: vast libraries of board games, acres of tabletop games, terabytes of computer games, legions of finely sculpted models in a dozen scales and every genre, plus phone apps, laser cut HDF scenery, paint racks, dice towers, flock, personalised dice cups, putty, tools, and fancy dice in every colour of the rainbow. Half a dozen new materials are used now compared to when I was a child, and there are new ones added every year.
How much have you seen?
If you’re like most gamers, you play the same games with the same opponents most of the time. Of course you read Ravage and this brings you a selection of what’s out there, but are you still missing something? I think you are.
Ones and Zeros
New technology has allowed anyone with a good idea to try their hand at producing a game. Video games obviously rely on advancing technology, and in my lifetime they have gone from nothing to the incredible fictional realities we see today. Technology such as 3D printing is on the cusp of changing the way we make and buy miniature figures. Design and layout software includes templates for you to pour raw text into, making it easy to produce slick looking rules. Print On Demand companies offer the ability to upload your designs and have them printed in as large or small numbers as you like. Gone are the days when you could only produce a game if you mortgaged your house to pay for the print run. Now you could use Kickstarter or Indiegogo to test the market – and for Zombiecide, Sedition Wars and Kings of War this has proved very popular – but you don’t have to be a large company to do this. Search for games on either site and you’ll see a wealth of one-man bands trying their luck.
So with more and more people making new games, and a global marketplace that you are part of, there are bound to be many hidden gems just waiting to be found. You just have to look. And how do you look? Again, technology. Your smart phone or computer gives you access to a global marketplace that never sleeps, and this wealth of gaming delights are just a click or two away.
I have some homework for you. Before we meet again, explore some of the less obvious valuables from this Dragon’s hoard of gaming wealth. Ignore, for a moment, the gleaming marvels of the companies you know so well and see what lies beyond them. Look for the passion and verve of the little companies and forget the safe and familiar you usually stick to. True, safe and familiar is comforting and means that you always have people to play with. But it misses some outstanding games, and some wonderful experiences. Why deny yourself these pleasures?
Go out and find a game you’d never heard of before I sent you looking, learn how to play and, if it’s any good, show it to a friend. By all means reach for your wallet if you wish to, but this need not cost you more than a little time. You will probably find something with a free pdf rulebook and you already have playing pieces you can proxy a game with.
Above all, enjoy the journey.
By the way…
When did you last play a game for the first time? Not a new edition or an expansion – something you’d never tried before. When was it made by someone other than the major companies?
If the best game ever was one you never played because you always stuck with safe and familiar, how would that make you feel?