The Veto-Avoidance Theory of Board Game Design

The Veto-Avoidance Theory of Board Game Design

Nick Bentley Nick Bentley

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Hi Advisors,
 
Welcome to this week's behind-the-scenes post. 
 
Our recent behind-the-scenes posts have been about our work on a new edition of our game Trekking the World.
 
A reader replied to one last week, wondering if we focus too much on trying to make everyone happy. 
 
It's a good question, because we consciously try to make games satisfying many tastes.
 
Our reasoning has to do with the kind of products board games are. But is this reasoning sound? 
 

The Gauntlet of Vetos

A key feature of multiplayer board games:
 
Multiple people must agree to play a game for it to be used at all.
 
Not all products are like this. For example you can enjoy music, books, and shoes without anyone else's participation.
 
Opinions about any one game tend to vary a lot, which makes it hard to find a game everyone wants to play.
 
Therefore (goes our theory), if we want to make games that do the basic job of getting to the table, it helps if they satisfy disparate tastes.
 
It's hard to do because opinions about any given game vary wildly.
 
I often interview our customers, and they'll often talk about wanting to play a given game, but being unable, because a friend or family member doesn't want to. 
 
It's like games are constantly being vetoed.
 
The games that make it through this gauntlet tend to be ones no one strongly dislikes.
 
It often only takes one veto for a game to remain unplayed, or one anticipated veto to never be purchased at all!
 
So that's why we make games the way we do.
 
If there are errors in our thinking, we'd like to find out sooner rather than later! What do you think?
 
Please don't hesitate to share your opinions in a reply, positive or negative. I read all your replies (and reply when time permits) and it helps me understand what we're doing right and wrong.
 
Nick Bentley,
President, Underdog Games Studio

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