What is the first board game you really remember playing? I am not the talking about the glimpses of memories you may have playing LIFE with your family or that time you stopped Mouse Trap halfway to see if the machine even worked… I am talking about your first vivid memory of the entirety of a game. You may not remember every little move, but you recall the roller coaster of emotions, the moments of paralysis analysis, the way you dug deeper into the rules to develop a winning strategy, the realization that playing a game was not just solely in the moment but in the past and future as well.
For me, that was the first time I beat my father playing Risk. To be fair, the age is kind of blurry, but that is probably because I am 30 now and I am not a fan of thinking about my age. I was in Texas though, so that throws me into my preteen years. My father (to my knowledge) was not a fan of the idea of “letting your children win”… but I had enough victories in my back pocket to not completely kill my love of games. Risk was another level of game for me at the time. There was more strategy in that game than any other board game I had played. My ability to think strategically developed thanks to RTS games like Age of Empires and CCGs like Pokemon. I had played Risk before with my father, but never gotten to the point where I could beat him.
I chose to Focus on capturing Australia and S. America and then amass troops moving north. Now I know there is a large element of luck in Risk, and you are mainly trying to put more odds in your favor, but this was a big deal. This also happens to be the last time I played Risk with my father. My family has since evolved in their tastes of board games. The moment I captured N. America, domination was in my grasp and, more importantly, my love of gaming was sealed.
The reason why I asked the first question though, is because I am willing to bet you have a similar story. Board games for a lot of people have a connection to family and to childhood. They represent innocence, education, development, or even self-realization. Board games are also growing in popularity and people from all walks of life and experiences are coming into the hobby. This is a very good thing, but as this happens different perspectives enter into the community. Within these perspectives lie varying ideas of morality and sensitivities.
You may be asking where I am going with this, well, a new game from CMON has come to the scene and it has taken over a lot of Facebook group conversations that I am part of. The game I am talking about is called, “HATE”. Feel free to check out their Kickstarter page then come back and read, I will wait.
That is a lot to take in all at once, and so you know, this post isn’t just about “HATE”. Like all KS Topic posts, this is a continually evolving discussion. “HATE” just happened to come at the right time for me to sit back and look at what the future of tabletop gaming may look like, and this includes the games and themes that I wish to tackle. Many of the stories/games I am working on will have ‘mature’ themes, and the backlash creates a fear and anxiety in me, that I am not going to cast off onto others, but work through.
I don’t want to address the feelings you may have towards this game, those feelings are yours. I do however want to address the responses I have seen because of those feelings. I have seen (very valid) criticisms of the KS video. The script was poorly written and had this been the end of the discussion, then I would have been fine. Many conversations I found didn’t end with a remark on the immaturity found in the script for a ‘mature’ game but were more like…
That was a comment in a conversation where someone was trying to figure out which game they should back on Kickstarter. There was nothing gained from this comment, just a sentiment that could only further divide the people involved in the conversation. Why do we do this to one another? Comments like this were seen scattered throughout various conversations about this game I have seen. I decided to look up the game on BGG and see if there was more information, of course, this unreleased game has a rating already.
The game is already sitting at a 4.8 on BGG, and most of the comments are in regards to the KS video and people expressing their views on proper behavior. Shouldn’t ratings be based on people’s actual experiences with playing the game? Why try to impact the success of others if they aren’t actively harming others? These actions are made solely to impact CMON and the team behind “HATE” if you feel that strongly then aim to educate and not just randomly tear down.
If I find a game that professes to be an evangelism tool for a religion I may not believe and I gave it a ‘1’ rating because of how I feel towards the theme or subject matter, is that helpful? I could play the game and love the mechanics and find that overall the game itself is fantastic, just not something I would want to digest on a regular basis. Or I could just ignore the game, as I am not the target audience. I don’t play games made for kids and then remark about the childish and ridiculous theme because it isn’t made for me. I can remark on gameplay, but then I am talking about mechanics and mechanics overall are pretty ammoral and hard to find offensive.
Look, this comes with the territory of sharing your creation and the hobby of board games overall have seemed to belong to a lot of people that seem (to me of course) to lean more into the conservative spectrum of living. No judgments here, I want everyone to be happy with their life choices. I would suggest though, that as different perspectives enter into the hobby, we aim to respect each other and offer constructive criticisms. That will build up the community.
As with the last KS Topic, these posts are meant to be a continuing conversation. My hope is that we will revisit these posts and offer new insights to them. The game I am planning to launch first, as I mentioned earlier, will have elements that many people may find disconcerting and I hope that people will not latch onto pieces but see the full picture that I am offering to the world so this won’t be my only post about ‘M’ rated games. I would love to hear your opinions on “HATE” in the comments below. Let me know your thoughts about mature themes in games, and why you feel that way! Let me know in the comments if there are other subjects to be discussed, other perspectives for me to listen to, and if you just feel I am wrong in something, then please let me know that too!