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Jennifer Woolley

Professor Emilia Grant


UWRT 1102-003
March 18, 2015
The Exploratory Essay Board Games

Ive never understood the rule loser cleans up; havent you already suffered
enough? Now you have to clean up after everyone? Personally, Ive always helped
clean up, even if I didnt lose; this allows more time for more games (and more chances
for me to destroy you). My family has always played games together; what else can you
do with six children that doesnt cost any money? Some of our biggest fights were over
playing a game. I come from a very competitive family. We grew up playing common
card and board games: Gin (Rummy), Hearts, Spades, Spoons, Chess (I prefer
Checkers, because Im not good at Chess), Scrabble, Monopoly, Rummikub, and more.
We also played a lot of Risk and Balderdash. It wasnt until my early 20s that I started
my hobby: European style board games.
For me, the biggest appeal of board games has always been the learning aspect.
I love reading the rules of a new game. Its exciting to read about new concepts and
learn new strategies. Who comes up with this stuff? I also have an attachment to board
games because of my brother. My oldest brother and I have, for the most part, been
pretty close. Ive always valued and loved the time weve had together (I hope he never
reads this), especially when playing games. Hes the one who really introduced me to
the variety of Eurogames. When we were living in the same state, we used to play

board games religiously, almost every weekend. It was constantly a party; tables setup
in different rooms running different games. Food, drinks, music. There were even video
games setup for those who werent avid board gamers, like my sister and my brothers
wife; they didnt want to invest the 3-5 hours of game time. You would meet all kinds of
people who shared a common interest. Its like we were all in our own world; speaking a
different language that everyone understood. You feel part of something good when
playing board games.
Id like to further explore the psychology of board games, which will eventually
lead me to why Im so interested in board games. Is it used as an escape from reality?
Do board games fulfill some kind of void in our lives? Is there a stereotype for people
who play board games? Im a nerd and proud of it; but is there still a negative
connotation with the nerd label? Is there a clear divide in the types of gamers? There
are definitely distinct types of games. You have your typical role-playing games (RPG):
Dungeons and Dragons, Magic Realm, Arkham Horror, and others. Then you have the
Eurogames (also called German-style board games): Imperial, Shogun, Twilight
Struggle, Puerto Rico, Seven Wonders, Power Grid, Acquire, Settlers of Catan, and
Dominion. This list is just a sample from my own collection of board games, mostly
given to me by my brother as a birthday or Solstice present.
The difference between these two types of games, and other commonly played
table-top games, is the emphasis on strategy instead of luck. The Eurogames also tend
to keep all the players in the game until it ends (more fun, huh). Eurogames do have a
certain amount of interaction with other players; however, not as much as RPG games.
RPG games, as the name implies, have a special kind of interaction. Players act out

roles for characters in a game in an imaginary setting. Do people prefer one type of a
game over another? Are there characteristics or personality traits of a person that we
could use to identify whether or not someone would be interested in these types of
games?
What exactly is it about board games that attracts people? Is it the winning, the
comradery, the sharing, the social aspects, is it artificial social practice? Is there a
culture around board games? Do I even belong in this board game world? I think it
would help to first understand the history of board games. What type of person develops
a board game and why? Germany publishes more board games than any other country.
What is it about Germany? How did the U.S. get involved with publishing Eurogames?
What type of people play board games? Are they mostly introverts? To what levels do
people take their board game hobby? Are there unhealthy levels? What is a good
balance?
To help summarize, Ive also included an image that I think depicts the different
views people have about someone that plays board games (see Attachment A).

Attachment A