Thursday, January 12, 2012

Going Cardboard

I just got back from a preview showing (I think the first public preview showing?) of Lorien Green's documentary Going Cardboard. It was pretty great.

The movie covers the modern era of board games, what Green calls "designer" and I call "Euro" games -- Settlers of Catan and its genre-descendants. Jason Scott did the editing, so Get Lamp fans will recognize the style: lots of interwoven interview clips, giving an overview of a community and then several takes on particular aspects of it. We get some history (and an amusing sequence of gamers being ambivalent about Monopoly); we get a view of Spiel Essen, the mightiest of board-game conventions. (Fascinating to me, as I've only been to the relatively puny Origins.)

Going Cardboard has a bit more narrative than Get Lamp, I'd say. It follows a couple of people through full-circle story arcs. We see Don Vaccarino taking Dominion from a homebrew prototype, through publication at Rio Grande Games, to winning the Spiel des Jahres in 2009. And we watch Bryan Johnson recounting his tribulations publishing a game called "Huang Di" from 2006 to 2011. (Johnson just got a version of the game funded through Kickstarter, so that story has a happy ending -- the final cut of the film will likely mention that.)

I am peripheral to the board-game universe, but I recognized plenty of names of interviewees -- Vaccarino, Alan Moon, Klaus Teuber, Friedemann Friese, and others. Reiner Knizia, of course. I know a few of the faces as well. (Nice to see Kory Heath being typically enthusiastic about game design.)

Plus, I saw myself! One of the crowd shots at Unity Games distinctly shows the back of my head. I was wearing a Werewolf t-shirt. So, you've got that to look forward to also.

Comments imported from Gameshelf

Lorien (Jan 13, 2012 at 11:31 AM):

Thanks for watching, and thanks for the first ever review of the film. It was an honor to meet you, and maybe we can do some board gaming at Unity this year. :)

I really liked Kory Heath, we had some really cool discussions about "game space" and where the ideas for games come from. I couldn't squeeze that larger discussion into the film, but that comment really touched me, and I just had to have it in there.

Andrew Plotkin (Jan 13, 2012 at 11:55 AM):

You're welcome. I don't know if I'll make Unity this year, but we shall see.

Brian Leet (Jan 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM):

I just love seeing my already small world collapse just a bit more with a post like this. Zarf, with the first published review of Gone Cardboard? Simply cool. Can't wait to see it myself!

Eric Folsom (Jan 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM):

Finally, a big way to show people there's games out there that aren't Monopoly! It's a rare occasion that I meet someone who knows about any designer games (Apples to Apples is the closest I find). Can't wait to see the Documentary.

SEBMOJO (Jan 16, 2012 at 11:01 PM):

Hi Andrew, tangential query. Have you ever read "You Awaken in Razor Hill"? It's a forum 'IF' game that Alex Levinton did in one of the World of Warcraft realm forums, taking commands from forum posters and parsing them to tell a story that is (by turns) funny, ludicrous and genuinely moving.

It's a lot of reading, but I can't recommend it highly enough. The last third or so gets proper spine-tingling.

Andrew Plotkin (Jan 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM):

It is not something I'd seen before. (I did a small forum IF once, but it was more puzzle-y than moving.)

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