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Accessibility in Games


, in another thread, asked me if I see the need for another edition of #Pax Porfiriana. I basically replied that, personally, I don't see a need for a redesign or a refresh. But I also acknowledged that Pax Porf is a weird game, and one that will not appeal to very many players. I do believe that. I further believe that the ones to whom Pax Porf appeals will genuinely like or love the game. The ones for whom Pax Porf is not the right game will find it to be like #Munchkin.


This got me thinking about the appeal in games. It seems to my overly simplistic mind that there are several basic groups of games. And, BGA I hate to do this, but for the purposes of this illustration I will use data from BGG.

  • There are those games which are incredibly solid and popular. They tend to have a the large majority of their ratings in the 7s or 8s.
    • An example of such a game would be #Codenames. On BGG we find: 111 1s, 141 2s, 318 3s, 744 4s, 1800 5s, 7500 6s, 16000 7s, 25000 8s, 9500 9s, 4600 10s.
  • Then there are those games that are just universally disliked. I don't think any of us have to think very hard about games that are almost universaly disliked in our hobby.
  • Then, there are those games that which have a lot high ratings, and a lot of low ratings, and not a lot in between. These games fascinate me because it seems like it is for a particular group of people. There aren't just a lot of these games out there. The reason for this is because most of the time the publisher knows it's audience and focuses it's marketing effort on their specific audience. This is why you don't see #High Frontier 4 All in Target. Ion/SMG are focusing their marketing in other directions.
  • Lastly, and this is related to the above sort, there are those games that are made for very small groups of people. The restrictions can be of various sources.
    • Price: #Too Many Bones, #Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy, and #On Mars are all games that have been tremendously well recieved. But, they still have comparitivly few copies out there, the issue is that they are very expensive games.
    • Complexity: For many people, looking at a complexity scale on BGG, and seeing that a game comes in over 4-4.2 it automatically scares a lot of people of.
    • Theme: There are several themes that are extremely specific. #High Frontier 4 All and #Leaving Earth are very complex, scientificly accuarate stimulations of the exploration of near space. If one takes a look at HF4E and starts seeing terms like: rad-hardness, LEO, ISRU's, and etc.... they usually run off. The same could be said of 18xx style games. Alternatively if the theme is just too off the wall the sales of the games can suffer. I am thinking of games like #Cerebria: The Inside World, #Myrmes, or #Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr

So, for me, I do prefer games that are either marketed at a specific audience or who have lots of the a lot of high and low ratings. I find that the generally well regarded games are fun but they typically don't explore as interesting a design space, for me at least.

I want the hobby as a whole to be inviting. But, I welcome and embrace divisive games. I want games that some people love and some people won't touch with a 10 foot pole. For me, #Kingdom Death: Monster is one such game. I have a problem with the art assets, I hate the theme, I hate the price... I am glad that our hobby is big enough that we can have groups of people who love train games, or war games, or #Kingdom Death: Monster, or weird old euros. And, I really don't mind when I am in the group that is excluded.

So, what do you look for. Do you like "popular games?" Do you look for games that are crafted for you, but maybe not for very many others?

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44 days ago

When I designed the main color scheme for my dice, I went from Red-Green-Blue d6's to Red-Yellow-Blue.
You can't be helped by iconography if your dice look (but aren't) similar when you're colorblind

46 days ago

Good thoughts.  I don't do Kickstarter, but I wonder if that factors into the equation...seems like people who kickstart a game are already pre-invested, and because of their investment tend to force themselves to like a game more.  If the game goes to retail then those who pay less may not be as biased?

The only reason I look for popular games is because with limited shelf space and limited opportunity to play, I like to cycle through games - play them a few times, sell them, buy more.  If I buy obscure games then I can't resell them for a decent price.  Luckily, many "popular" games happen to be good!

Supporter46 days ago

That is true, popular games are always easier to get rid of than the obscure games.

Premium User46 days ago

Very interesting post. I think for me I look for games that are in the same space as titles I know and love, whether that be for the designer, publisher, or more often than not the mechanisms. So I guess in that respect I look for games geared towards a specific audience vs games that will be enjoyed by a wider range of people. Not that I'm opposed to playing those types of games though - I actually own quite a few to play with family or friends who aren't gamers.

Supporter47 days ago

I love games. I love games that challenge me to learn new things. I love games that are fun. I love games that I can play with my family. And I really love that boardgaming is a diverse hobby that lets all of those different facets be shown. I can buy a game that is incredibly complex like#Leaving Earth or#On Mars and play that solo and have a great time. I can play#Champions of Midgard with my game group and have a blast. I can play#Star Wars: Rebellion with my best friend and tell epic stories. And I can play#Ticket To Ride with my family have so much fun. 

So no. I don't look for anything specific. I crave experiences and challenge and entertainment. The best game is one that you can play. 

Premium User47 days ago

I'm in agreement with you here. Doesn't matter what the game is I'll at least try it once. And if it's fun I'll gladly play it again. Even if it's fun for someone else I play it with and not so much for me, I'll play it again for that person and the shared experience with them.

Premium User47 days ago

Very good assessment and good question.  One of the reasons I watch channels like Heavycardboard and Actualol and Watch it Played and Boardgame Night are to get a feel for a variety of different games.  I think quite a few of those end up being more "popular" games but Rahdo hits on quite a few that aren't quite as popular and end up being good games.

I think my collection reflects more of the popular games than not. #Firefly: The Game might be one of the more offbeat games I really like. #Heaven & Ale is a bit lower on people's list for a game I find to be one of my favorites.  There are games I end up liking and I think are popular because they are simply very well designed. #Gloomhaven falls into this category.  I used to own #Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) and #Sword & Sorcery: Immortal Souls and #Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia and in general I found those games to be 'ok' but as a general rule didn't enjoy dungeon crawlers quite as much.  Gloomhaven ends up being so well designed (I played a friend's copy for 6 months before purchasing my own) that I decided the game was worth the price point.

Speaking of price, #On Mars falls into that range of games I would love to play but are priced beyond my willingness to grab it quickly...especially since I don't think I could get my family to play. #Crokinole I pulled the plug on when a Kickstarter got the price down to $99+shipping and I knew that my family would play that. #Food Chain Magnate is another game I'd love to try but the pricepoint is just out of reach for me. #The Gallerist is the same but someone else I believe is getting that for me this season so I am lucking out a bit there.

#Turin Market is a small box game I saw played one time and I really liked it and have been looking for it.  If I happen to come across a game I enjoy I would attempt to grab it regardless of popularity and plan a gamenight around it.  One of the reasons I would love to playtest games is to get more experience trying out games that may or may not hit the 'popular' market.  

Hopefully I didn't stray too far from topic there.  Good question.  

Supporter46 days ago

Thanks for these thoughts. I do agree, even the exposure to the "weird" games can be really fun, even if you don't ever dig into them.

Premium User47 days ago

I'm not getting you the Gallerist lol. Wishful thinking there my friend 🤣

Premium User46 days ago

lol...I think my mother in law came through for me

Premium User46 days ago

WOW!! Mother in law of the year!

Supporter46 days ago

Hey, that is great.

Premium User46 days ago

It is true.  My wife's parents live next door to us and they maintain the pool we spend half the summer swimming in.  My kids are utterly spoiled as compared to my childhood!  She also tends to purchase half of everyone's Amazon list each year.  I guess we are all spoiled to some degree.  

Now if I could just get them to play more games...

Premium User45 days ago

Wow that's really awesome. Especially for the kids sake. I don't know if I could live next door to my parents or inlaws though so more power to you lol.

And let me know if you have any luck getting them to play more! Do they play anything at all with you?

Premium User45 days ago

We talked my mother-in-law into playing #Wingspan while on vacation with them.  They will play #Codenames: Pictures, #Wits & Wagers, & #Love Letter.  I think there's an off chance I could get her to play #Rococo: Deluxe Edition due to theme and since Taryn and Becky will play.  Father-in-law is pretty much a lost cause.  #Megaland would be a distant possibility but he pretty much sticks to card games of luck.  

I take part of that back, he did play #The Mind with all of us and would play that again.  I suppose there is hope for #The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine getting to the table and I plan to break that out at Christmas or slightly before.

Premium User45 days ago

How'd#Wingspan go over with her? We've been going back and forth on whether we should teach it to the in-laws. On one hand, I know they would try to indulge us and would be able to figure it out. But on the other, I don't think thematically it would hold their attention. Might end up a one and done. Then tend to like games with more interaction. Not necessarily in the competitive sense but in the social aspect. Wingspan def doesn't provide that lol.

The Crew you might have some luck with as long as you can get him to understand trick taking lol. I wish you luck sir

Premium User45 days ago

I think #Wingspan went over ok.  I don't think she'll play anytime soon but maybe on a vacation with others of us playing she would join in.  My father-in-law would probably never play.  I'm ok with one and done as it still gives her a feel for the game and might spark her wanting to try again down the road.  Sounds like your folks would like #Detective Club or #Secret Hitler or more games in that vein.

Premium User45 days ago

Interesting thought that they might get something out of it. Maybe we'll try to get them to play it after all. 

I play Secret Hitler a ton (or I should say I played) with my meetup group. I would absolutely buy it for myself if I was confident I could get that many players over often enough. I've heard of Detective Club but I can't say I know anything about it other than that. Guess it's another one to add to the lemme check this out list lol

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