This article is not about games I think am bad. Could do a post about why I loathe Steam from Martin Wallace (who is a great designer)… but not today. Today is about something completely different.
Who remembers the old computer game where you got bonus points to run over Hara Krishna followers?
Today I am going to write my ramblings about theme. Yes theme once again. Are there themes you would never play, or don’t you care? Have read many posts and heard many board gamers say that theme is not important. The game mechanics are important – nothing else…
Myself I love a good theme. Love the idea of building up a tribe in Stone Age, cultivating Wine in Portugal in Vinhos or hunting monsters for survival in Kingdom Death: Monster. Do not mind the abstract games though, but theme is important to me.
In Comics almost nothing is sacred. Am a big fan of Lady Death, and they are quite explicit, but could this transcend to board games? Let me try this one out…
… would you play a board game where the purpose of the game was to kill as many people as possible in a German concentration camp during World War II? You were the camp leader and had to do resource management, build up the camp and tally up the death count – the game mechanics are innovative and fun – but would you?
… or would you play a game where the purpose was to produce the most perfect porn movie drafting cards with the best positions, the right angles and best shots (pun intended)? You would have card drafting and hand management (eh!), and the game mechanics would be fun, but would the theme affect you?
For me the answer is not obvious, because I would not play camp leader but would have a blast (as in laughing a lot) over the porn movie. I also have games where a part of the resources you use are slaves (Puerto Rico and Five Tribes) – games that later changed it to be immigrants and workers, so those games were affected by what is right.
I will play games where the political correctness is not present, and it is my own subjective ethical perspective that decides what I want to play when I sit down at the table.
But what do you think? Is there a limit to theme and what the theme should contain, or would you game whatever hit the table? Either because you do not care about theme and only mechanics or because you thought it could be fun to explore a theme that you knew would raise eyebrows?