Friday, September 28, 2007

The Goal

As a creator of games I strive to not simply create enjoyable games, but to explore and expand existing game paradigms. Game development is a personal creative outlet for me. But beyond the basic pursuit of personal expression I hope to do something more. I hope to change the way people interact with one another as well as change where people interact with one another while engaging in games. I hope to create things that are not only popular on some level, but different and groundbreaking as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Board in the City

Spend time with any sort of church youth group and ultimately you'd likely find yourself participating in some sort of scavenger hunt. Such games are fairly straight forward. Teams are given a list of items to collect or activities to perform and then sent out to complete their checklist. If the youth group and subsequent teams in the hunt are a little bit older - say senior high age - perhaps the teams split up and go door-to-door in a few local neighborhoods to collect particular canned goods for the local food shelf. If the kids are a bit younger, maybe they head out to a local mall and go store-to-store performing certain activities.

I participated in many such scavenger hunts when I was younger and have even chaperoned a few in recent years. While doing demos for my game Stumblebum last holiday season at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, I even encountered several groups of kids chaperoned by parents that were participating in a birthday party scavenger hunt. They were to come to the game store at which I was demo'ing Stumblebum and play a quick turn in the game. It was kind of fun to see the groups come by and check an item off their list when they were done.

Such scavenger hunts have been around for a long, long time, but still I believe they are a harbinger of things to come. They're relatively easy to put together and can be quite fun, and no doubt will become increasingly more complex and varied in the years to come. Especially given the technology that exists today - cell phones, camera phones, text messaging, GPS, and more -it seems quite reasonable that such games will get more and more sophisticated with more and more coordination and variation.

There is obviously no actual board to speak of. The board is the neighborhood, the mall, or the city. I have to believe at some point, someone, somewhere will actually formalize rules for such a game, complete with technology variations and scoring systems. Such a game could include checklists specific to certain cities or specific to certain types of groups. Maybe there will be a New York City version, a Chicago, a San Francisco, or Minneapolis version. Or maybe it will simply all be rolled up into a single Scavenger Hunt book.

Hmmm... Note to self...

Copyright 2007, C. Engdahl, Big E Toys. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What Games Will We Buy This Holiday Season?

Invariably, every holiday season a plethora of new video games is introduced for our collective consumption. More often than not, they are well promoted and much anticipated. You know their names - Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Halo 3, and more. This year will be no different I imagine.

Board games have not historically carried the same hype as their video counterparts. Yet more often than not, board games put in a solid showing year in and year out. This year is likely to be another solid, if not better than average year for board games. Here's why:

1) Economic Uncertainty exascerbated by subprime issues and mortgage foreclosures will push people to seek value in their holiday purchases. Board games have been and will continue to represent tremendous value. Generally speaking, they have a long-lasting, repeatable, experiential quality about them. They can be enjoyed again and again and again and again...

2) Family Time continues to be a strong theme in today's culture. Games are a great way for families to spend quality time together.

3) Great Titles from solid companies have been introduced over the last few years and will again remain strong. You can certainly expect a solid showing from companies such as Cranium, ThinkFun, and Out of the Box. (Out of the Box actually recently relinquished distribution rights to Mattel for its uber popular Apples to Apples games, which I would think will only increase its reach and popularity.) Also look for individual games such as Ingenious, Mad Gab, and Wits & Wagers to continue their upward climb. And don't overlook Pentago (if you haven't heard of this game, do yourself a favor and educate yourself).

Beyond some of the aforementioned titles, look for a strong showing from more traditional offerings or variations on traditional offerings - Scrabble, Mille Bournes, Trivial Pursuit, Uno, etc. In uncertain times, shoppers will look for tried and true, familiar items on which to spend their hard earned cash. Because of this, I imagine the Big E Toys' charades-based game Stumblebum will again have a solid showing this year. It doens't hurt either that Stumblebum is great for all ages, easy to understand, and a downright hilarious game to play.

Have fun. Play hard.

Copyright 2007, C. Engdahl, Big E Toys. All Rights Reserved.