How to Win Every Game - PAX Prime 2014

How to Win Every Game
PAX Prime 2014

It seems obvious that, when playing a game of skill, one attempts to win. Interestingly, this is often not the case, and even skilled gamers rarely analyze to any real depth the underlying mechanics and strategy of a given game. By deconstructing the games we play, you too can make them far less fun for yourself and beat the everliving hell out of your friends. We'll hit the theory pretty heavily, but also specific examples from games like Stratego, Settlers of Catan, and even Football.

How to Love and Hate Tabletop Games

How to Love and Hate Tabletop Games
PAX Prime 2014

How do I get into tabletop gaming? How do I talk about board games I like? How about the ones I hate? How do I find more I want to play? How do I avoid those that would waste my time? How do I preserve my hard earned dollars? Join this expert panel as they get into the details you need and want to know about board games – from how to talk like a board game enthusiast to criticize them and find a critic you like.

Moderated by:
Jon Bolding
Senior Tabletop Editor
The Escapist

Panelists:
Luke Crane - Games Specialist - Kickstarter
Donna Prior - Professional Game Evangelist - Green Ronin
Christopher Badell - Design Director - Greater Than Games
Rym - Producer - GeekNights

Why No One Will Game with You

Why No One Will Game with You
Presented by GeekNights at PAX East 2014 on Friday at 1:00pm in the Badger Theatre.

In gaming forums around the world, variations of the same thread forever grace the front page: "Looking for a Gaming Group." Games are ubiquitous, barriers to entry are ever-lower, and the Internet (never mind conventions like PAX) provide what should be a sea of gamers ready and willing to play games with us. So why all the trouble? Why, in 2013, is it still so hard to form a gaming group? Why won't anyone play Air Hockey with me?

In exploring the "LFG" space, there are a myriad of issues which come to light. Skill gaps leave players stranded. Matchmaking systems hurt as much as they help. The longer tail of games available spreads niche audiences further into increasingly specific sub-sub-sub-genres. Play styles differ. (Indeed, in some groups it is impolite to spend more than ten seconds on one's turn, while in others spending less than ten MINUTES is the height of rudeness)!

Let's explore why it's so hard (or why it SEEMS to hard) to find people to play games!

Beyond Dungeons & Dragons - PAX Aus

PAX Australia 2013
Beyond Dungeons & Dragons

D&D is a great way to get into tabletop role playing games, and for most of us, it was our first foray into that world. As classic and dear to us as it is, however, it has certain limitations. If all you have is a hammer, then suddenly everything starts to look like a nail. Role playing systems are no different. The system that handles a raucous dungeon crawl is probably not well tuned for a cyberpunk procedural or modern romantic comedy.

GeekNights has flown here all the way from New York, and we'd love for you to join us for a discussion of the role mechanics play in role playing games. They have more of an effect than you might realize. If D&D was your first venture, then we're here to give you your next. Broaden your gaming horizons, flex your role-playing muscles, and learn what lies beyond Dungeons & Dragons.

This was performed at the first PAX Australia in 2013. Friday in the Wombat Theatre.

Indie RPG Spotlight - Dread

Indie RPG Spotlight - Dread

Dread is a special role playing game. It doesn't use dice or cards for conflict resolution. It uses a Jenga tower. The mechanics of this lead players into the careful buildup of tension, the punctuated climax (where someone typically dies), the backing off, and the resumed slow build. In a sense, this role playing game elegantly uses its rules to emulate the structure of that particular tension-driven style of horror story. It is an excellent example of mechanism design, in the sense that the rules are designed to lead players toward a particular outcome regardless of their individual intents or abilities.

Well, aside from their abilities at Jenga itself.

Rym and Scott of GeekNights presented "Beyond Dungeons & Dragons" at PAX Australia 2013. (They've previously presented this at ConnectiCon 2008, PAX Prime 2008, PAX Prime 2009, PAX East 2010, MAGFest X, and dozens of other conventions). This is a short excerpt from that full lecture, spotlighting one of the specific game examples they used.

Full Lecture

Bad Games - PAX Prime 2013

Bad Games
PAX Prime 2013

We’ve all played “bad” games, but what truly makes a game “bad?” Is gaming beauty not in the eye of the beholder? Is one’s miserable experience not simply subjective opinion? Is there such a thing as an objectively “bad” game? More importantly, however we define the term, do bad games serve a purpose? Much as how without evil, there can be no good, without the worst of gaming, how could we possibly recognize the best?

It turns out that the problem is not in defining what makes a game “bad,” but in what makes a game a “game.” Some games are great at certain things, but terrible at others. Candyland teaches children colors and counting, but is a terrible candidate for a serious tournament. Dungeons & Dragons is great for that heroic fantasy adventure, but not so much for your future cyberpunk transhumanist court drama. Silver Surfer serves as a lesson (and a warning) to future game designers the world over.

Join us for a lively discussion of the worst of gaming, what that truly means, and what we can learn from “bad” games. You may find that some of the worst games ever made can be some of the most fun you’ve ever had.

Character Sheets and Storytelling

Character Sheets and Storytelling

From our lecture at PAX Australia 2013! A role playing game can only be evaluated solely by the contents of its rules. Your character in a role playing game exists solely on your character sheet. So, what is your character sheet telling you about your character?

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