There isn’t any modern technology that is the sole responsibility of any individual. Technology is the collective effort of humanity over the course of generations. There would be no smartphone without Edison’s lightbulb. There would be no electronic cars without Ford’s Model T. The list of industries that have remained unchanged over the years is a short one. The board game industry is one that seems somewhat stagnant on the surface but has changed drastically over the past several decades. Games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and Clue are still in production even after decades. Here’s a quick look at a few innovative games in the industry.
- Dominion: Over twenty years ago, the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering took the small game industry by surprise. This collectible card game has two players collect cards, created a deck, and play head to head. Dominion took the concept of building a deck of cards and made that the entire game, instead of something that was done before the game started. Dominion is known as the first deck-builder game, and subsequently inspired a large array of other deck-building games.
- Risk Legacy: Many people have heard of Risk. The long game of dice rolling and getting mad at your friends. Risk Legacy introduced the concept of a consumable game; now known as a legacy game. Before this concept, board games had always been something that you could play 10,000 times before old age a decay destroyed the game. Risk Legacy offered a game that could only be played 15 times. The game followed a story and had players making permanent changes to the physical copy of the game such as tearing up cards, placing stickers on the board, and writing in permanent marker. Each play of the game is different from the previous because of the decisions the players make.
- The Settlers of Catan: Now known as Catan, this game introduced European game design to the United States. European board games typically have less confrontation between players and are heavier in the strategy department.
Interestingly, board game mechanics are not copyrightable material. In other words, selling a blatant copy of Monopoly would not be illegal or violate any copyright laws; provided the art and name of the game are changed. However, blatant copies do not happen often because of self-policing within the industry, and because board games don’t have a high-profit margin, to begin with. The advantage is the ability of designers to share and build upon other ideas.