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Enough with the mages, factions, zombies, pirates and ninjas already!

2012 October 23
by Michael Schroeder

When I think of geekdom back in the day, I think of such things as pocket protectors, big glasses and Dungeons & Dragons. Not so anymore. Nowadays it’s zombies, pirates and ninjas.

Sure the latter mentioned may have been popular for awhile, but when I browse mobile games or board games, I see more and more games based around these characters. And I gotta ask, “why?” I personally don’t find any of these subjects to be of real interest, but hey, that’s just me. Pirates, ninjas and zombies are OK but I don’t care enough about them to make my own game about them. But even more recently, I’m finding more and more games about mages and factions.

Maybe it just me, ok, it is just me, but I’m so tired of seeing games about factions and mages. When it comes to iOS and some recent board game titles, I’m finding some of the most unoriginal names such as, “Mage Wars, Faction Wars?” Are you kidding me?

If I had to trace this trend back, I would have to pin it on Summoner Wars. Summoner wars has factions in it, so does Heroscape, where summoner wars gets it’s roots. So does many more games that pre-date those, but it really seems I’m noticing the term, faction, being used a lot. And I don’t like that word. Yeah I’m sure it’s silly to many of you, but I have a right to dislike and like things, right? I understand that the term faction has meaning, but I’d rather use, team or side. It’s similar to when I was growing up – I disliked circles and preferred squares or a harder edge shape.

On BGG I see a lot of aspiring game designers coming up with their own games with the word faction in the title. Please, I beg of you, think of something more original!

Then there’s the whole pirate, ninja and zombie thing. I honestly don’t get it. What I don’t get even more is that game designers keep churning these out! I’m an aspiring game designer myself and I like to focus on more pseudo- realistic-economic based games. Look at the top games on BGG for the longest time, Puerto Rico and Agricola. These games clearly have something going for them, and the theme is not zombies. Most of the zombie themed games I see tend to have mediocre ratings. Now that doesn’t mean that not all of them are mediocre or bad, it’s just that there’s a trend of popular themes that seems to work, and you people are just over saturating the market with your zombie games! But sure, I encourage you, go ahead and keep pitching your zombie themed games to publishers. It leaves the door more open for me to pitch my games themed on realistic subject matter.

In closing, pirates, ninjas, zombies, while mildly entertaining, aren’t my forte, and that’s OK – your reading my thoughts. And mages, summoners and factions, please call them something else, like wizards! Even though they may technically be two different things. And yes, I realize there’s an oversaturation of euro-economic games, and yes, it’s starting to wear on me a bit where I’m now enjoying more of my older games and picking up less new ones. But the latter type is my favorite…long live the train games!

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