We grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, Dick, Lem… We were watching Willow, Blade Runner, The NeverEnding Story, Robin Hood… And yet, we don’t write books… we don’t make movies. We don’t make those things, because we make games. We make games that tell stories.
Books and movies are a perfect chance for us to escape to new, different worlds. They fuel our imagination and dreams. They let us walk in the shoes of great heroes and have exciting adventures. With games, however, we can go further. We can experience these stories together with our friends. Gather around a table and fight enemies together. Survive or die as a group. Together, we can tell stories.
This is what we do. This is what we believe in. Do you want to defend a castle? Do you want to build an empire? Survive on an uninhabited Island? Call your friends, sit at the table and get ready for an amazing story you will all tell and share this evening.
That’s what I wrote about Portal Games a few years back. That’s what I believe in. Lately, I am even more committed to my belief. The games, the best games we play these days, are truly amazing and provide experiences you cannot compare to anything else. No movie can do this. No book can do this. No video game can do this.
A two hours’ challenge when I play Twilight Struggle leaves me always exhausted but happy. I don’t care if I won or lost, I don’t care if the game was hard for me or if I got some good cards. I don’t care because the only thing that matters is the experience. I always feel like I was in the middle of a cold war, like I was fighting for control over the world, like I was there, in the White House with my advisors. This is the experience, this is me being there and trying to solve a political crisis.
A five-hour-long investigation I conducted when I played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective for the first time remains one of the most vivid memories of a gaming night I’ve ever had. It was back in December 2015, many months ago and yet I can remember precisely every moment of the game. I was there, looking for clues, investigating the crime scene, interrogating suspects. I was discussing with Merry many possible theories, we were browsing through the booklet looking for things we might have missed, we were totally immersed. That evening, Sherlock Holmes offered us The Experience. During these five hours, I really was an investigator. It was amazing.
I am writing about this, because a new edition of Robinson Crusoe was recently released and so many of you had a chance to live the adventure for the very first time. Robinson is a tough beast. It punches you in the face and knows no mercy. You will lose again and again. You’ll get killed by a puma. Starve to death. Freeze during a harsh winter. There is a million ways for you to die in Robinson.
But one day you will win. One day you will build this damn wood pile and get rescued.
And that, my friends, will feel fucking awesome. You won’t belive you actually did it. You won’t believe you won and you got rescued.
That’s The Experience. That’s board games.