An Abstract Board Game Writer
An Abstract Board Game Writer
Games are divided into two broad categories: games of opportunity and games of achievement. A game is generally a structured kind of play, normally undertaken for fun or entertainment, and occasionally used as an educational instrument. Most games are independent, apart from the fact that they may be played against others, or against computer systems. Most are active, requiring the participant to move along a series of tasks, trying to complete the various challenges within the time frame given. Some games are simple versions of existing skill sets, such as the “Hangman” game, “Spades” game, etc. Others are complex exercises in patterning and mental challenges.
Let us consider first the type of game in this discussion, and then look at its development and popularity. Board games developed out of simple tools, the earliest being the village board, with its basic pieces (generally hexagonal) each representing a possible set of colors. Over time, with more complex designs and materials, board games developed into something much more than simple sets of shapes on a flat surface. Now, these early designs were very constrained in their complexity, but that was part of the charm of them – they offered a chance to really let the mind wonder. Chris Crawford’s “Games That Make You Think” series is a wonderful exploration of just how complex and interesting board games can be, in particular, those that involve the development of abstract thought processes and concepts.
Chris Crawford’s book, “The Power of Teams” offers a superb history of board games, how they developed over time, and how he uses them today. One of his most fascinating games is the one he calls “mind boggling”, which involves players taking turns selecting tiles from an array of colors, moving them around a board until they meet a required criteria. The catch is that each player must propose an idea for what the tiles actually should be before anyone can propose a solution. In this way, Crawford challenges players to think creatively rather than just mechanically. This amazingly creative board game can be played as a solitaire challenge or a three or four player game with one person serving as the discoverer and everyone else offering up suggestions along the way.
Another one of Gamedev’s popular games is his “word search” board game, which asks players to search a grid of letters for words that can fit into the space given. The first player to find a word is the winner. There are a number of other versions of this game including the “oriental music letter” and the “word search logical” board games. Gamedev also worked on a game that combines elements of the letters of the alphabet and math into a puzzle-solving game.
Of course, Gamedev is not the only creator of abstract board games. Milton Glaser had created some of the earliest commercially successful abstract games, such as the word game Clue. Glaser also had a hand in developing Chess, an incredibly popular game that continues to enjoy tremendous popularity today. Richard Garfield created and designed games such as Uno, and the rule set for his famous Garfield series. And of course, there’s William Heath, the man behind the production of the classic Risk game of Risk.
Gamedev and Glaser and Garfield may not be the only creative minds operating from an abstract angle on the board, but they have certainly taken on some of the biggest roles in creating some of the most memorable games in history. Glaser’s and Gamedev’s influence on Chess is undeniable, as well as the influence of traditional game creation on Chess. These games still enjoy popularity today, and Glaser and Gamedev’s influence has not slowed down since their creation. Regardless of whether you play Chess, Chance or Solitaire, abstract board games provide entertainment and stimulate the mind.