Gen Con Begins

Summertime is gaming season, with several major conventions, shows and competitions around the globe. Today marks the opening of Gen Con, one of the largest and oldest in the world. Last year, about 28,000 flocked in the Indianapolis for 4 days of gaming, competition, exhibits, and overall geek love. It’s kind of an E3 for conventional gaming. (Since Gen Con has been around almost 30 years, I should probably say that E3 is a Gen Con for electronic gaming.)

Gen Con has even produced an App, Gen Con Mobile, with maps, event schedules, and Twitter/Facebook support.

Follow details about this year’s show on their site, Twitter, or Facebook.

App O’ the Mornin’: Zombie Dice

Yesterday, I posted a little outburst about Munchkin games and their transcendent awfulness. Zombie Dice is what prompted that outburst.

Munchkin had long been a sore point, since it really is just about everything that could be wrong with a card game compressed into one over-priced, under-produced waste of shelf space.

But spending time with the Zombie Dice app is what finally made me lose hope that Steve Jackson Games was capable of making a good product.

The Zombie Dice app isn’t really meant to be it’s own game. (At least, I hope not.) Instead, it’s more like an interactive demo for the actual, tabletop dice game, complete with an in-game ad telling you where to buy your very own set.

This is where SJG has made their fatal error. The success of their titles depends upon people thinking they look good in the package and sound like they might be entertaining. They don’t depend upon actual time spent with their gameplay, which only reveals their shortcomings.

Zombie Dice is what Yahtzee would be like if Yahtzee was much dumber and trying desperately to cash in on the zombie fad. (Or the Cthulhu fad, since there’s also Cthulhu Dice.) Basically, you’re a zombie who’s rolling dice to try to determine if he gets to eat some brains. The dice are red, yellow, or green, and have pictures representing SHOTGUN, FEET, and BRAINS. If you roll brains, you get a snack and 1 point. If you roll feet, your victim runs away. If you roll shotgun, you get blasted. If you get three shotguns, your turn is over and you lose the brain points you’ve already accumulated.

The idea is that you have to decide how far to press your luck by choosing when to stop rolling. And … well, that’s pretty much it. If you’re smart enough to stop rolling when you have 2 shotguns, then you’ll probably never get blasted. That’s really not a lot to hang an entire game line on, is it?

And, no, I’m no leaving out some vital part of the gameplay. That’s really all there is to it.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I downloaded this App. Based on my disappointing encounters with everything else from Steve Jackson Games, I was beginning to wonder if they were capable of making a good game. Now, I no longer wonder.

UPDATE: After I posted this, I received some good comments about Revolution by SJG, so there is hope!

Play in Public

The gaming site Seize Your Turn has kicked off a “Play in Public” campaign for the month of August. The goal is to get adult boardgame fans to set up and play in public places in order to inspire more people to learn abut the hobby. Taking your game session out to a Borders, Barnes & Noble, or other reasonably peaceful, relatively wind-free public place (eg: probably not a food court or park) isn’t just a good way to tell people about Dominion or Finca. It’s also a fine way to shake up a normal game night.

It’s pretty easy to get local bookstores and coffee shops to sponsor open game nights, which has two benefits: 1) more people can learn about games, thus creating 2) more people to play with. So, as the nice man at the bar always tells me, “Take it outside.”

Check out the website or the Facebook page for more information.