Great Game Designers
The web site Geekosystem offers up an interesting look at 30 Great Gaming Geeks. The list is populated primarily of video game designers, but a number of famous board game designers make the list as well, including:
Well, you see, Klaus Teuber made this game called Settlers of Catan. Well, you don't really play against the other players, you sort of play with them. Yes, well, you can build armies, but you just use them to move the robber, and ... Oh, yeah, there's a robber. He lives in the desert. Did I mention that? Anyway, there are these dots on each space on the board. And these produce resources, see, but only on certain die rolls, and you can trade things – like "I'll take one wheat for two sheep." Does that make any sense? Any at all? Oh, I forgot to tell you; the world is generated randomly every time... You know what? Screw this. Let's just set up the board.
Civilization: ever heard of it? From Azteca to Zululand, Sid Meier is renowned the world over as the man who introduced us to Wonders of the World, shields as units of productivity, and the race to Alpha Centauri, which just so happened to be the site of yet another engaging strategy game. Meier holds the pretty awesomely-named Guinness World Record for "Person With the Most Video Game Accolades."
More than almost anyone else, Reiner Knizia has led the way in creating the Eurogame genre. What's a Eurogame, you say? How about: a workable middle ground between drool-spattered Candyland-alikes and 5000-piece behemoths designed to recreate the Boer War on the level of individual soldiers? Plus, he used to to a highly successful banker! He's a Quant Made Good! There's hope for all of us with a sordid history of abusing our gifts!
One of the longest-standing problems with tabletop role-playing games has been their stifling genre-specificity. Going outside of whatever Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian Cyberpunk, or High Fantasy box a game happens to exist in has usually been difficult at best. For example: D&D is about elves and sorcerers and ONLY elves and sorcerers, and, oh, I'm sorry, did you want your adventurers to maybe rule over a small kingdom and deal with the Keynesian implications of dumping sacks of dragon gold into the economy every week or so?
What do you mean, "It's not in the rules?" Or: We're playing Call of Cthulhu, but suddenly the players are challenged to a round of midget submarine jousting by Jacques Cousteau. Um...maybe we'll all roll against Wits, or Hand-Eye-Coordination, or something?
Steve Jackson developed GURPS to get around these restrictions, and…pretty much any restrictions, actually. Want to have a footrace between Charlemagne and Aleister Crowley? Yeah, GURPS can do that. Want to load up a bazooka and go stegosaurus hunting with Natty Bumppo? Do you even have to ask?
Jackson's free-form approach to game design arguably (weasel words!) served as a precursor to the modding communities of the past 15 years. Don't like a particular restriction? Why not take out out? Want a rule system that doesn't currently exist? Why, there's a book for that! Plus, Evil Stevie's Pirate Game is the best possible use of Legos, besides feeding them to younger siblings.
Do you have a favorite game designer not included?
Note: This is an archive post; it was originally published on March 25, 2010.