Bryan Caplan  

The Social Science of German Gaming

What's Wrong With Modern Ti... The Neo-Reactionaries...
Undercover Economist Tim Harford puts Germany's mighty gaming industry/culture under his detective's magnifying glass.  Here's five theories: human capital, weak competition from television, tradition/weirdness, low concentration ratios, and Great Man:

"There are two schools of thought as to why the Germans love board games," says Martin Wallace of Warfrog. "The Germans are of the opinion that it's down to their superior education system. We English are of the opinion that it's because German TV is sh***."

There are, in fact, many more than two schools of thought about why Germany is the world's board game superpower. It could be the enthusiasm of the citizens. In a country such as Britain, it is downright odd to pull a board game out of a cupboard and offer to teach it to friends alongside after-dinner coffee. In Germany, people do that and more. They ­discuss old games and act as evangelists for new ones. Naturally, the games are better as a result.

The cause could also be Germany's pluralistic gaming tradition: most countries play games, but German gaming has never been dominated by a single game - unlike Japan (Go) or Russia (chess). But it could also be the influence of a single pioneer, Erwin Glonnegger. Born in southern Germany in 1925, Glonnegger joined the publisher Ravensburger after the war, where he became its first board game "editor", working with designers through the 1950s and 1960s to produce a series of elegant games now considered timeless.

P.S. If you'll be in DC next weekend and want to try some German games named in the article (or something more esoteric like Bill Dickens' latest LARP or Nerd Charades), friend me on Facebook and ask for an invitation to Capla-Con 2010 - July 23 and 24.

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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Doc Merlin writes:

Heh, in college we played german board games. We also played strange american board and card games.
It was more limited to the rather geeky of us, but we had a lot of fun.

Also, Bryan is a LARPer? I had no idea, I guess a lot of the more fringe geek activities are becoming mainstream. Anyway, the idea of Econ profs playing actual games seems great.

Foobarista writes:

I wonder if the social gamer urge in the US is taken up by friday night poker or online gaming?

rea writes:

A link to your facebook page might be helpful. I'd be interested in a diplomacy rematch at some pt but am interested in Caplan con.

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