I've been thinking a lot about the perceived depth/complexity barrier to modern board gaming. Conventional wisdom says that it is a barrier but I wonder how much of a barrier it is.
I had a friend who hadn't played any modern board games and didn't play video games. He came for a board game night. The game he wanted to play was Scythe. Scythe is not super heavy but it is not normal gateway fare.
I have other friends who's gateway games were Race for the Galaxy, they don't mind the symbology. Another one who's first modern game was TI3.
My gateway game was Fief: France 1429. I had played Catan plus a lot of Risk, Monopoly, and Life. But nothing that grabbed me like Fief.
So I guess my question is this. How important is it that the game be gateway(ish)? Obviously it depends on the person. But isn't it more important that something, the theme, the artwork, the fact that it looks like a "grown-up" game, is something that they can personally feel invested in?
Obviously, it would be ideal if you could have a blend of both. And, it is getting easier and easier to have that blend but I guess my plea is too not underestimate the new player. Playing strategically might not be as natural to them. You might have to explain what it means to draft a card. But they often can play what they WANT to play.
Obviously it behooves you /me as the more experienced player at table to try and make sure the that are having fun. And we have to be sure that they know that if they picked out TI4 it will be an all day experience.
I don't want to shortsell the typical gateway game they have been the catalyst for untold numbers of people entering this wonderful hobby. But let us remember that the interest of the person in the game is vital as well.
What are your thoughts? Am I way off track? Am I using my experience with a small sample and applying it to broadly? What were your gateway games?