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December 28th, 2006


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07:37 am - Christmas and Games for Boys
So, Christmas is passed. Among other presents, I got Chad Underkoffler's Zorcerer of Zo from jamused and the German boardgame Thurn & Taxis (by Karen & Andreas Seyfarth) from whumpdotcom. Thank you! Meanwhile, my son got Heroscape and the Dragonology boardgame from Sababa Toys.

I'm still going over Zorcerer of Zo, but (as Josh knows) I am a big fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz books (as well as many of the Ruth Plumly Thompson sequels). And ZoZ is very much Oz-influenced, which I somehow hadn't seen in the name. I wonder a bit that it wasn't written as set in Oz itself, since many of the original books have passed into the public domain. (However, there are trademark issues since the more popular film version of Oz is still a jealously-guarded copyright.)

Thurn & Taxis is good fun -- a race to build up your network of post offices using a board and cards. The drawback is that the rules are written to be compact rather than clear. Well, they are densely packed into 4 pages such that all situations were addressed by reading it carefully, but it was a pain parsing through it.

Heroscape is wonderful on the physical components -- simply hex tiles which fit nicely and painted plastic figures. The rules I'm still pondering over. I'm not familiary with the Clix games or the D&D miniatures game, so I can't compare directly, but they don't immediately impress me. However, it still had me and Liz sitting on the floor practically elbowing Milo out of the way to play with the toys.

Dragonology also has nice components, but it is a terrible game. It is one of those games of wandering around the board for a long time which was simply dull.


Andy on Story Games noted with surprise that I had a kid -- so I'll pause here for a few thoughts about game culture and my son. He's only six now. I played a bit of role-playing with him -- he played a familiar in a pseudo-D&D game I ran for two 10-year-olds, and he played in another pseudo-D&D game and Faery's Tale game I ran at the kids room of ConQuest SF (see my CQSF06 Report). Thinking about him, though, makes me think about the market for boys.

There are a number of people who blame problems in gaming on the teenage boy demographic. For example, a few months ago I saw in a post on "Gender in Games" equating sexism in games with marketing to teenage boys, as follows: "There's all sorts of useless crap that I can pitch over the side once I abandon my plans for selling thousands of books to wide-eyed young boys. The cheesecake can go right out the window; in the simplest terms, it serves absolutely no purpose any longer. The embedded assumption that men must take up violence in order to save helpless women I can discard."

He's not at all unique, though. I've seen plenty of other suggestions that the teenager market is to blame for problems in gaming -- specifically teenage boys.

First off, I don't think that this marketing is teenager specific. Unfortunately, cheesecake, helpless women, and macho violence sell to adult men just as much as teenage boys. A glance at "The Man Show" or men's magazines should confirm this. Teenage boys are hardly alone here. Consider comics for comparison. Over the last two decades, mainstream comics have increasingly sold to adults rather than teens -- but as far as I can tell, it hasn't reduced the cheesecake factor or other tropes.

I don't believe that content has to be sexist or stupid to sell to kids, even teenage boys. Having a son myself, I want there to be fun RPGs for boys which are not loaded with sexist crap. Content for boys can be fun, action-packed, and sexy without being hostile to women. So, I would like to see more games for boys and even teenage boys -- ones which don't suck and don't pander. It would be good if they can invite girls they like to the game without offending them. Opportunities for flirting during games are often favored by the teenage set.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:chris_goodwin
Date:December 28th, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
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First off, I don't think that this marketing is teenager specific. Unfortunately, cheesecake, helpless women, and macho violence sell to adult men just as much as teenage boys. A glance at "The Man Show" or men's magazines should confirm this. Teenage boys are hardly alone here. Consider comics for comparison. Over the last two decades, mainstream comics have increasingly sold to adults rather than teens -- but as far as I can tell, it hasn't reduced the cheesecake factor or other tropes.

Consider that maybe they're not marketed to teenage boys, but rather by teenage boys (who may in fact be in their thirties or forties).
[User Picture]
From:jhkimrpg
Date:December 28th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I realize that this is supposed to be funny, but it just leaves me flat. I can see you're trying to insult thirty-something marketers by calling them teenage boys. To me, though, "teenage boy" is not a useful substitute for whatever host of ills you think of RPG marketers.
[User Picture]
From:tundra_no_caps
Date:December 28th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
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The Princes' Kingdom is often maentioned as a game for boys (and girls).
[User Picture]
From:jhkimrpg
Date:December 28th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Good point. I should put in some props (and a link) for The Princes' Kingdom, by Clinton Nixon.

Heck, a link to my RPGs for Kids page with links for tPK, Faery's Tale, and a number of other games.
[User Picture]
From:chadu
Date:December 28th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
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I'm still going over Zorcerer of Zo, but (as Josh knows) I am a big fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz books (as well as many of the Ruth Plumly Thompson sequels). And ZoZ is very much Oz-influenced, which I somehow hadn't seen in the name. I wonder a bit that it wasn't written as set in Oz itself, since many of the original books have passed into the public domain. (However, there are trademark issues since the more popular film version of Oz is still a jealously-guarded copyright.)

Two reasons:
1. Wanted the freedom to do whatever (especially smush in Narnia and Grimm and Andersen and so on); and
2. All of my Ozian knowledge past the first book is by osmosis.

CU
[User Picture]
From:jhkimrpg
Date:December 28th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Fair enough, particularly about the latter. If you read the later books, it's clear that Oz is pretty darn loose as far as settings go -- and it pulls in various other characters (faeries, Santa Claus, etc.). You could easily put pseudo-Narnia stuff there. But not having read them, I can understand some reluctance to set it there.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 29th, 2006 11:55 am (UTC)

Hello Everyone!

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Hi, my name is Recrut and I have a headache
[User Picture]
From:nikotesla
Date:January 1st, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
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Good stuff on those last couple of paragraphs, John.

Clinton actually has a lot to say about that stuff in his carefully considered illustrations, not only in Prince's Kingdom, but also in The Shadow of Yesterday.

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