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M.U.G.G: A Game’s Focus at Play

MUGG or My Under Graduate Game is essentially what has been the driving force towards most of my subject as I was able to relate the progression of my own board game from BCM300 last semester into their own separate assignment submission task. The way I did this was to analyse what each class required of me to submit as a final Digital Artefact, then fulfil out each requirement that presents itself as its own project, its own assessment and its own unique presentation of work. In this instance of BCM215 – Game Media Industries, the goal was to to engage in the critical analysis of a game media text or para-text using a triangulated analytical framework and use that research to contribute to my digital artefact.

Essentially, what I did was choose to work on my board game while looking at board games as a para-text and relate to what I learnt to my own board game. I saw what was common with the genre and type of game I was tackling to make as well as interpret ideas from other games in a different way that would work towards my own work, rather than just focusing on the board game, it’s everything around it that I needed to look at as well. So, does this work in a digital format? Can I adapt my board game into a video game? What are the board game’s communities thoughts towards these types of games? Can I analyse the world of board games in a way that is accessible, entertaining, informative and engaging for a public audience? And most of all, I needed to do all of that using three different perspectives and how that translated into my own board game. The review video focuses on the specific elements of the board game and what I have essentially done is complete a basic model of the game and I discuss those elements in greater detail.

Perspective Pie

The perspectives below are what drives this project for this class as I take what games I was inspired from, what concepts helped me ideate and progress my board game further towards the basic model that I have. But before explaining that I need to summarise what my game is about in its current state.

My game, ‘Un-Subdermatoglyphics’ is an Adventure-Card game with non-linear mechanics and continuous conflict spanned across multiple boards acting as regions for each player to roam and collect resources from with the main objective being to be the ‘last person standing’ across the 2-4 players. Keep in mind that certain games do have a widely agreed upon place in their respective genre but that selection can vary depending on who is reviewing and/or playing the game as well as have it be a question of priorities and determining what aspects carry a lot of representation and weight of the genre and what does not.

Historical Accuracy – Eurogame Time

Speaking from a historical perspective it’s imperative to what games has been translated from analog to digital and vice-versa as well as how it handles itself on both interfaces. Games such as CATAN (1995), Hive (2000), Root (2018), Viticulture (2013), and Scythe (2016) each have their physical board game and its digital counterpart.

CATAN
CATAN
Hive
Hive
Root
Root
Viticulture
Viticulture
Scythe
Scythe

Each of them revolve around collect resources, expand influence and grow themselves larger then anyone else in the game, and it’s been this way for decades and people still love Eurogames, because of its simple yet complex formula that allows game designers to expand their reach of ideas and entertain people who are interested which is mainly why they are able to expand into a different form of media, instead of carrying around a physical set you can play digitally from practically everywhere. It doesn’t hurt that developers are able to add or change certain rules and mechanics in their games in a way that they couldn’t have done it on an analogue interface. My game does take aspiration from this genre of board games as well, not just the passive gameplay but also the possibility to translate into a digital game, one day down the road that is; Un-Subdermatoglyphics does involve resource management as well as scouting around a board and collect material in order to be stronger then your opponents, however, the game mainly falls under a different board game genre category: Ameritrash.

Content Analysis – American Trash Style

Here is where I go into the physical contents of my game a bit more as I am better equipped to relate my game to the Ameritrash genre rather then the Eurogame genre. From the image at the top of this post it’s fair to say that my game will contain a lot of pieces, from the tokens to the rift fragments (pebbles) to the dice itself it all collaborates into a functioning board game. The barrage of pieces has a purpose and that purpose is to support and initiate combat, direct antagonistic contact where each player acts for themselves, and even if a couple work together it is common knowledge that in these types of games, only one can remain even if there’s some luck involved.

Games such as Cosmic Encounter, Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition), Axis & Allies, Dune and Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) are games that involve aggressive expansion and combat-systems and mechanics to dominate any opponents with the use of dice, cards, assigned factions or regions so that you carry a proper identifier when trying to take the resources from other players.

Cosmic Encounter
Axis & Allies
Dune
Twilight Imperium
Talisman

Most of these games does have its own digital version reasons being too similar to Eurogames, it’s because of its enriching formula to go wild with little miniature pieces and go completely ballistic on other people you care for all for the sake of winning…and having fun of course.

Cosmic Encounter
Axis & Allies
Dune

Before moving onto the final perspective a final reiteration of the difference between Ameritrash and Eurogames must be made. To put it simply, Ameritrash is about conflict, dice/luck, miniatures, player elimination and heavy themes, Eurogames is about elegance, player interaction/inclusion, engagement, being deep in its mechanics and have a smaller luck factor. My game has aspects from both genres which is what I was aiming for, my game does contain multiple miniatures, conflict and player elimination but it also contains engagement, a simple gameplay loop, a reduction on luck with the dice being symbols and abilites rather then all being numbers. Here’s a good video summarising both genres:

Overall, whether my game is leaning towards the Ameritrash and Eurogames genre is going to be based on your own playstyle.

Deep Theme & Narrative – A Deeper Story

The genre of my game can also be considered a collectible card game or a CCG that’s on a board which is what makes it a board game rather then just a card game. Although it contains elements of both board and card games it’s mainly marketed towards CCG players looking for a board game experience or vice-versa. Games such as Netrunner, Dice masters, Mythos and of course Magic: The Gathering are games that revolve around its cards, some of them do have boards to go along with them, others are just cards and tokens/pieces placed onto a table in a specific way so events (mainly combat) can continue. The specific card/dice elements are explained in the video at the very bottom.

Mythos
Netrunner
Magic: The Gathering
Dice Masters

As for the narrative, it fair to say that each game has its own narrative and story that fuels the gameplay and objective for the players, a lot of it bases down to fantasy, sci-fi or abstract narratives and themes to go off on in CCGs. I don’t stray from this pattern as my theme falls under the combination of elements between fantastical and sci-fi which is seeped into the gameplay and setting, science-fiction is more leaned on in this scenario as the whole premise of the game’s functionality revolves around the time rift which means ‘time travel’ even though the ‘travelling’ part is more focused in the game. The overarching theme of this game is science/fantasy with some extended mechanics to fit “complicated” in the game of Un-Subdermatoglyphics better.

In Conclusion, I set out a goal for this subject and two others where I would continue a board game I previously worked on, and even though it took up most of my time I was still able to identify and analyse the game media paratext known as ‘board games’ and I took pride into knowing more about the types of board games that relates to my own because that was essentially the whole project/assignment. (You can read the rulebook below)

Reference List:

https://eriktwice.com/en/2020/12/24/what-is-a-eurogame/

https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Eurogame

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/143884/machi-koro

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13/catan

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2655/hive

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/204583/kingdomino

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/128621/viticulture

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/237182/root

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/169786/scythe

https://agogegameacademy.com/what-is-an-ameritrash-american-style-board-game-detailed-look

https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Ameritrash

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40531/cosmic-encounter

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/27627/talisman-revised-4th-edition

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/10093/axis-allies

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/283355/dune

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/233078/twilight-imperium-fourth-edition

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/297044/top-35-collectible-card-games-ccg-tcg-2022

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