I was fortunate enough to get to see Going Cardboard, a board game documentary by first-time director Lorien Green. The documentary features interviews with board gamers, including collectors and critics, as well as both well established and aspiring game designers.
As the documentary makes clear, while board gaming is a mainstream activity in much of Europe, it is something of a subculture in the United States. German newspapers publish reviews of games with some regularity, while in the U.S., this kind of information is best found via niche podcasts and websites.
I’m posting about this today because yesterday I spoke to two graduate classes — one in game design, one in technology and culture — and in both instances, the documentary came up. In the first instance, a student had mentioned he had a particular interest in board gaming culture, and in the second, a student had mentioned that his brother, who is an accomplished video gamer, was also a dedicated board gamer.
For anyone interested in gaming culture, it’s worthwhile viewing. The sections of the documentary that follow the trials of an aspiring board game designer to see his game published are especially interesting, and demonstrate some of the barriers designers run into. For those of you more interested in video gaming, the documentary is still recommended viewing. Historically, pen-and-paper and board games have had some significant impact on the development of video gaming.
Besides, it’s just fun viewing.