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Busy Lives Prompt Speedier Board Games 153

Posted by Zonk
from the play-faster-dangit dept.
BusylikeBum writes "Michelle Hastings admits she's sometimes cheated to get through a game of Candy Land with her 5-year-old daughter, Campbell. The board game can take just too long, she said. Disney Monopoly is another big offender. 'A game like that, it could literally take you days,' said Hastings, of Holliston, Mass. 'A lot of times, you don't play games because they take so long.' Board game makers are heeding pleas of parents like Hastings and introducing games tailored to busy lives and shorter attention spans that take only about 20 minutes to play." This is especially interesting to me, given the US adoption of more serious, lengthy German board games in the last few years.
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Busy Lives Prompt Speedier Board Games

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  • by fishybell (516991) <fishybell@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:56PM (#18613395) Homepage Journal
    ...it doesn't take 9-11 year olds 20 minutes to get bored with Monopoly. In a three person game their turn only comes up every two minutes, and they run out of steam before they've been around the board twice.

    Simpler games, such as UNO or Mancala, or even more complicated games, such as Rummikub, offer more entertainment for longer periods of time simply because a turn lasts at most 30-45 seconds.

  • Days? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:11PM (#18613559)
    Disney Monopoly is another big offender. 'A game like that, it could literally take you days,' said Hastings, of Holliston, Mass.

    Don't know if they've changed the rules for Disney Monopoly - usually variants just change street names and graphic design - but Monopoly should never take days, unless players are deliberately buying property from each other at inflated prices to prevent anyone going out of the game. Or unless people are refusing to trade cards so that nobody can form a complete colour group and build houses, in which case it's stalemate and you might as well call a draw.

    After an hour or two of Monopoly the board should be full of houses. At that point the game ends fast; the ASSESSED FOR STREET REPAIRS and MAKE GENERAL REPAIRS cards are ruinously expensive to a big landlord. As a result, money comes out of the game a good deal faster than it comes into it from people passing GO. All those fees go to the Bank, leaving players with less and less money to pay the ever-larger rents, and the game must end soon.

    You could, I suppose, invent a new game in which money did not ever leave the game and return to the Bank - perhaps you could put the money from fines and fees and so forth into some jackpot, and designate a square such that anybody landing there would collect all the wealth accumulated there - but that game would last forever, become incredibly frustrating once everybody had so much money that they didn't care about landing on Mayfair, and would basically not be Monopoly.

  • This is nuts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PurifyYourMind (776223) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:21PM (#18613667) Homepage
    Shouldn't we be pushing for longer, more cerebral games--chess, Go, backgammon, etc.--to counteract the attention problems? Seems the priority is not on the kid's mental development but on the parent's schedule.
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @10:23PM (#18615409)
    Whether it's a board game, a card game, or anything else where the longer it gets the better balanced it has to be. If you blow 30 minutes on a game that has lots of flaws but is fun no big deal. However once games start getting into the hour plus range you need to feel it was worth the time investment.

    If the game isn't well balanced in one way, or if the players' skill levels are mismatched, then one or more players are going to pull ahead while everyone else falls behind with no hope of catching up. This might be fun for the players in the lead, but it can get very frustrating to the others. _Especially_ if they're not as much into board games. This can make convincing non-board game geek friends or SOs to join you for a game very difficult.

    If the game isn't balanced in another way then the results become based more on luck than skill, especially if it's possible for one player to jump up from behind suddenly at the end and wind up on top. This can be acceptable if the game is of a more silly nature, one designed to make everyone compete in crazy antics and the enjoyment is more in the journey than the goal, but not so much in a "serious" game. "Apples to Apples" is a good example of a game that manages to have a goal to compete for but which no one really cares a great deal who wins.

    An ideal game allows players who are behind to catch up, but in a way that is at least theoretically foreseeable and preventable. Allowing ways for the players who are behind to gang up on the person in charge often helps with this. And often times setting alternate goals for yourself when it seems that victory is out of your grasp can be entertaining if you can maintain the right mindset. If you're already out of the running then sabotaging the person in the lead to give the game to the person who was second can be a fun goal (assuming you're playing with people who won't hold grudges of course =)

  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:11PM (#18615821) Homepage Journal
    Don't call random variants added to the rules in less than 1% of all monopoly printings "proper".
  • by paeanblack (191171) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @11:59PM (#18616227)
    Monopoly is also a lot more brilliant a game than most people think.

    In the 1930's Monopoly was brilliant. In contrast with modern games, its flaws are thrown in sharp relief.

    Game design:
    1) It is an elimination game with a platykurtic expected duration distribution. If you are going to knock players out, you need a strongly defined endpoint.
    2) Deal-making games are more interesting with more players; deal-making games with elimination get less interesting as the game progresses.
    3) It has indeterminant length and lacks a fair withdrawal procedure. If the game can run overlong, players need a exit that doesn't throw the game.
    4) The decision tree is sparse, and the most important decisions occur early. The endgame is not much different than the end of Snakes & Ladders.

    Game mechanics:
    1) 'Roll & Move' includes a completely unnecessary step. Customized dice could replace the entire token track.
    2) Keeping score to four-digit precision serves no purpose when player decisions only have two-digit granularity. Player spend too much time tracking what they cannot control.

    Components:
    1) The gameboard wastes a colossal amount of space. Games that waste real estate can less easily be enjoyed at the players' convenience.
    2) Paper money is inferior to plastic chips for the required transactions. Modern games with similar MSRP have a far greater production quality.

    Monopoly is the Model T of boardgames, a revolutionary product that has truly earned a place of honor in any museum. You may enjoy driving antique cars, but you'll have little success convincing others they offer a superior ride than modern designs.
  • priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joystickgenie (913297) <joleske@joystickgenie.com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:22AM (#18616407) Homepage
    "Michelle Hastings admits she's sometimes cheated to get through a game of Candy Land with her 5-year-old daughter, Campbell"

    there has always been a talk going about how story based video games take too long for working parents to be able to play them, and I can understand that perspective. It's hard to get time away from work and responsibilities of being a parent for that long when you work and have kids, but this seems to be a different issue entirely.

    Seriously if your business life is so busy that you can't sit down with your 5 year of daughter long enough to play a game of candy land the problem is not candy land. It's time to rethink your priorities.
  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @08:29AM (#18618883) Journal
    Look, I hate Monopoly like poison, mainly because it's existence means that I never get to play any of the other games in my vast collection of board games. However, you are missing certain points about why people like to play Monopoly.

    People play Monopoly because of:

    1. The play money. Replace Monopoly's play money with something else and people will be like "hey, where's the play money."

    2. The cute little tokens that look like various things. (Including the player tokens and the little houses and hotels.)

    3. The concept of owning deeds to property.

    In other words, with Monopoly the presentation is the point. The thing about Monopoly is, as you point out, it is a bad game. The presentation, however, is great and the actual game is "good enough" for the people who buy it. Yeah, it's all sizzle and no steak, but believe me, Parker Brothers knows what they are doing.

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