History of Modern Board Games

MSCH-V 334 — Spring 2022

Marco Arnaudo
FF 216
Days and Times
TR 9:45 A - 11:00 A
Course Description

You may not be surprised if someone stated that video games evolved in the last 30 years more than in the previous history of humankind. But what if I told you that tabletop games also have changed more between the 1980s and now than between the Pleistocene and the 1980s? In this class we will explore the dramatic changes in analog game design and culture of the last decades. We will consider the changes in audience, production methods, and publishing policies that have made this change possible. We will learn about unprecedented game mechanics such as deck building, deck selection, Legacy system, worker placement, campaign games, modular board, app-enhanced board games, collectible card game, living card game, cooperative gaming, miniature gaming, and more. We will talk about the major game designers of the modern era, and discuss how and why the very idea of "author" entered the world of board gaming. We will also explore the media environment that has played a pivotal role in revolutionizing modern analog gaming - from the database BoardGameGeek, to the Dice Tower network, the Kickstarter platform, the world of online game criticism, and so forth. In other words, we will see how the digital revolution that was supposed to obliterate tabletop gaming has surprisingly turned out to be its strongest ally. At the end of the class, students will have learned about the core concepts and procedures of a thriving culture and a fast-expanding market. They will become active participants in one of most exciting entertainment fields or our time. For their final project, students will work in groups to design a game inspired by one of the trends in modern gaming discussed in the class.