You ask questions, I find answers.
Really… I want this topic to be that simple. My purpose for this blog has always been to share about my experiences in the game industry. Beyond just my experiences, what interests you about the game industry, freelancing, Gen Con, or other game-related topics? From your questions, I will find topics to research and then share my findings with you.
Our fourth Fact-Finding has resulted from a conversation I was having with a former student of my Game Studies course. He has a game theme question that I reached out to game reviews, podcasters, and personalities to ask their thought as they play lots of games.
Question from my former student:
What theme(s) do you feel are lacking or could add new energy to the current games available? The question came about after a long discussion on heavily (perhaps overly) used themes such as pirates, vikings, zombies, and Cthulhu.
Marty Connell from Rolling Dice & Taking Names:
I’ve always wanted a music themed game. I know Symphony just came out which is about the economics of supporting classical artists. But I’d like something more in the line of music composition. Music is all math. So a game around creating chords, melodies, full songs etc is ripe for a board game. Imagine a board where it’s a blank music staff, and over the course of the game the goal is to add notes to the staff to create a chords and a melody. I’m not sure exactly how the mechanics would work but since for chords to work it all math, there must be some creative and fun way to do it.
Kiki Aimerito from Girls’ Game Shelf:
Goodness themes. I always enjoy an unusual theme, especially one that is well integrated. I’d love to see themes around different professions. There’s a reason I loved paperboy so much when I was growing up. A look into a mundane job, that gets all wacky and psychedelic at the end? YES. Why not game about personal assistants, or carpentry, or dispatchers? All jobs that take skill and strategy but in unique ways. Anything like that would definitely pique my interest. And also synchronized swimmers because I’ve always wanted to play a game wearing goggles and a swim cap.
Real world social issues, either historic or modern. Managing Immigration and political alliances on a global level, medicine and food in impoverished countries, or even dealing with climate change. These don’t have to be set in the real world, as a good analogue in any setting can still be meaningful; but there are compelling stories that can be told using these struggles. And they don’t have to be benevolent either, Terraforming Mars doesn’t grapple with the greatest endeavor of mankind being fueled by corporate greed, but it showcases it ambivalently which allows players to understand, relate, and come to their own conclusions.
Derek W. White, The Geekpreacher:
Good science fiction/space opera is often lacking in many of the games I currently see on the market with a few notable exceptions in the world of RPGs. Those exceptions are Star Finder and a recent reboot of Star Trek as a role playing game. Science Fiction has often challenged human beings to stretch our boundaries and open ourselves up to new technologies and alien cultures. Games which can delve into these areas are much needed to help us look forward as Fantasy has often helped us to look backward.
Ambie Valdés of Board Game Blitz:
Sure! But I don’t really have a good answer… I think there are a bunch of less common themes that could be great. What I like about games is when the theme is integrated well with the mechanisms, and in order to do that it should be a theme that the designer is passionate about. But the theme can be anything – music, art, knitting, camping, skydiving… I think the good thing about having a variety of thematic options in board games is that it will be easier to find a game for everyone. Just like with different genres of movies, people will be drawn to ones with themes that interest them. So I think the main thing is to make the games make sense with whatever theme is chosen.
Pre-WW2 Film Noir, Espionage
Espionage through the ages
Native American history
POC experience in America
Ancient Middle east
Andy Matthews of Meeple Mountain:
Many of the most common themes are heavily male dominated. Pirates, zombies, vikings, etc. It would be great to see a swath of themes which can be appreciated by everyone. For example, there’s a reason why Patchwork, a game about quilting, is a top 100 game on BGG. Themes like food, hobbies (movies, books, exercise) would be great. Also other potential themes could be ones which dive into more intangible things like religion, happiness, satisfaction, and depression.
If I receive further responses to this question, I will update this post, so you might want to check back later.