Here's a very cool archeological finding in Azerbaijan. It's a copy of the ancient game called 58 Holes or Hounds and Jackals today. This instance of the game appears to be about 4000 years old. An example of the game was found earlier in the tomb Egyptian Pharaoh Amenemhat IV from 1800 BCE. So the game was apparently a popular one, as it obviously spread around the ancient world throughout the Middle East.
No one is exactly sure what the rules were, but it appears to have been some sort of racing game with markers moving around a track. It looks somewhat like backgammon, although it has no real relationship to that game. Backgammon comes from a Roman game much later on.
I like what Walter Crist has to say about the role of games in society:
"People are using the games to interact with one another," he said. Games were "kind of a uniquely human thing, kind of an abstraction — moving stones in blank spaces on the ground has no real effect on your daily life, except for the fact that it helps you interact with another person.
"So, a game is a tool for interaction, kind of like language — a shared way of being able to interact with people," Crist said.
Check out the article here.
War Chest is a new chess-influenced abstract game by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson, distributed by AEG. I happened to find it on a ding and dent table in my local store and picked it up. I'm very glad I did. It has added in a modern deck-building mechanic to classic gameplay, among other things. It sports high component production values and easy to understand rules with strategic depth. I'm always interested in modern variants of classic abstract games for my after school gaming club. It has some similarities with two earlier chess-like abstract games which are favorites of my children and I, The Duke and Onitama. So how does it compare with its closest modern cousins? Which one do I and my children like the best? Read on to find out!
I have been using the Blackwidow Chroma V2 (hereafter the BCV2) by Razer for about a year now. You can see the keyboard in the image at the top of my website. I feel that I have put it through its paces at this point. Thus, it’s time for a review.
First of all, this is the first keyboard I have owned with mechanical switches under the keys. Normal keyboards come with a membrane activator under the key. Mechanical switches are far more rugged than membrane keyboards and will last about 5 to 10 times as long. That means a mechanical keyboard may well be the last keyboard you will ever buy. The switches in mechanical keyboards also activate before the key actually travels all the way down to the keyboard base. This results in you typing faster once you get used to it. Mechanical switches come in a variety of options. Some switches have a tactile and audible slight click to them when they activate. Others have no click or tactile bump to them. Thus, you can find a mechanical switch that feels the best for you and your typing style. Finally, mechanical keyboards have anti-ghosting technology in them that means you can press down keys with all your fingers at the same time and all the pressed keys will activate. That is not usually an option in standard membrane keyboards. The end result is that if you have been typing on keyboards for decades and you put your hands on a mechanical keyboard for the first time and start typing you will immediately be shocked at the feel, as I was, and a smile will spread across your face. It really is that noticeable.
It looks like the army and RAND Corporation are bringing back tabletop war gaming again. After the invention of the atomic bomb, tabletop miniature war games were seen as largely pointless for real military strategy training. They had been in use since the late 1700s in Prussia (and subsequently spread worldwide) for that purpose. They were created through slowly evolving chess to be more and more realistic. But after the atomic bomb, miniatures wargaming was consigned to the tabletop hobby world alone. Hobbyists continued playing tabletop war games simply because they were very fun and extremely challenging. Meanwhile RAND came up with the idea of "role playing" games as the best way to simulate modern warfare for the purpose of military training. Participants would now play the roles of leaders of countries with nuclear weapons at their disposal. Then the participants would basically negotiate their way to victory. No table or miniatures were required. The most popular hobbyist tabletop game to come out of this idea was Diplomacy.
In 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson applied the role play idea to miniatures medieval wargaming rules Gygax had developed earlier (which included Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) fantasy creatures as options for combatants). They also added in the idea of characters improving through experience (which had already been in miniatures wargaming in somewhat embryonic forms). And boom! Dungeons and Dragons was born, changing hobby tabletop gaming (and the electronic gaming that arrived soon after) forever.
And now the circle is completing itself as tabletop wargaming, with role playing involved, is going to be used once again in the military. Contrary to the predictions after World War II, the world still does conventional war these days, and thus tabletop wargaming is still applicable in a nuclear world for strategic modeling and training. Of course this new generation of tabletop wargames the military is doing will be highly advanced compared with the games they were playing pre-WWII, and will have computers sitting nearby crunching numbers... History is fascinating in how it so often follows spiraling paths.
Here is an article about it: link
Here is a cool graphic made by fun.com which shows an overview of the history of board games in North America,
Here's another graphic showing sales of the entire hobby board gaming market versus the sales of mass market game maker Hasbro.
Here's an interesting article in The Atlantic on the shift from humanities majors to STEM majors. Students entering college are much more interested in degrees that they think will get them a job these days. I think the emphasis on STEM in the K12 public school systems is overdone right now. Yes there are jobs in STEM, but not enough for all the young people being funneled into the field. STEM jobs are becoming highly competitive.Article Link
The consumer product safety comission is once again updating it's age rating guidleines. The new guidlines are in draft form right now and are located here.
The age ratings on tabletop games can be highly confusing and misleading to parents, however. This is due to the fact that they bear no relationship to the ratings on video games, movies, and television. Today’s parents have been raised under the mindset of the content ratings applied to electronic entertainment, and naturally assume that tabletop game ratings should work the same way. Unfortunately, they don’t. Age ratings on tabletop games have little to do with issues like violence levels or “adult situations” in the games themselves. Instead the ratings are controlled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which oversees the ratings on all toys.
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