Transcript of the podcast published on August 2nd, 2011.
Continuing my talk about new names for game genres I will now introduce a second genre, the “loud” game (as opposed to the “Schweigespiel” or “silent” game from the last segment).
Let’s immediately try a definition:
Loud games are games that not only encourage verbal communication between players but also make it a central part of the game, either because it increases the enjoyment of the game or because a specific verbal communication has to be heard and understood by a greater number of players.
There are several subdivisions of loud games in my opinion. One is obvious: party games. Party games very often involve quiz or guessing elements, very often the player to most quickly give a certain piece of information is rewarded, so they tend to be loud as players make themselves heard over others. In addition party games often involve humor or hilariousness, and they encourage the socializing aspect of mutual laughter, for example by using jokes. Examples of this would be “Wits & Wagers”, “Apples to Apples” or even the rather grim “The Resistance”. An interesting variation is “Werewolf” which has alternating silent and loud phases. The werewolves usually kill in silence, but then the accusations start and the game suddenly becomes very loud.
The second subdivision is trading phase games. Here very often the goal is to make oneself heard with a very good offer or to demand a certain combination of goods from another player. For this one has to be loud. A prime example for this is “Settlers of Catan”, in which the trading phase is usually very loud, so shy or meek players don’t stand a chance. The first game in which a non-organized, non-sequential trading phase became the central part of a strategy board game is probably “Civilization” by Francis Tresham, a game which can be considered the godfather of Settlers in many ways. Trading is actually the vital part of “Civilization”, as it not only enables players to buy advances but it also introduces the mechanic of deftly trading catastrophes as well. As long as the trading phase goes its course a catastrophe received by another player can still be traded to someone else, so the trading phases of “Civilization” tend to get louder towards the end, when players realize it’s their last chance to get rid of the epidemic card.
Auction games can be loud, but only if they have a free-for-all auction phase in which bids can be made non-sequentially. Sequential bids, like in “Modern Art” or “Princes of Florence” don’t get loud usually.
The third subdivision is chatty games, games in which the description of things plays an important part. “Such A Thing” is a case in point, or also last Spiel des Jahres winner “Dixit”. Very often the chatty game involves comments of other players, like in “Anno Domini”, when everybody tries to use their limited historical knowledge to influence others. “What? Beer is around for millennia, not only since the Middle Ages!” would be a typical “Anno Domini” comment.
An interesting case are games that are not chatty by nature, but which become chatty because a great number of players has nothing to do from a certain point on and the game doesn’t hinder them talking with each other. Take “Citadels” – once you have selected your role you can do absolutely nothing until all players have selected their role. One player after the other will join the growing group of players who have already selected their role, and selecting can sometimes be beset by analysis paralysis in this game, so all these players usually begin to chat with each other out of boredom. I found that most games of “Citadels” are spent talking about something not even game related, like also in “Liar’s Dice”, where the players who have been kicked out of the game because they lost their last die begin to chat with each other.
Bluffing games are another subdivision – the bluffing itself is usually silent, but once the bluff is out the players usually react with a verbal burst of “I told you!”, “You liar!”, “I can’t believe it!”, etc.. These shouts can even be heard in pro poker games on TV.
Another subcategory is what I would call “anger games”, games like “Risk” for example in which trashing one player often results in whining, complaining and the inevitable table flip
Finally we have a very special subcategory, one which I would call the “cheering game”. Here players become loud because they either have to cheer on somebody or simply because there is nothing else to do really. The best example is “Battling Tops” – once the tops are spinning wildly you can do nothing but watch what will happen, so people usually begin to cheer their top, which of course doesn’t make any sense at all. Strangely enough “Battling Tops” is the loudest game of them all, something that any visitor to Boardgamegeek Con can attest to.
All in all the effective loudness level of a game is very dependent on the group of players – if they are very social or more introvert, if they know each other well or not. For most gamers though the so called “trash talk” or cheering and screaming are an important element of their enjoyment of games, so it should play a role when describing a game.
Next show I will talk about “Greedy Games”.