Kicks Condor

Print-and-Play Board Game Dump (a COVID-19 response)

Prime example of using a group directory as a kind of conversation/movement.

I’m seeing a ton of ad-hoc directories springing up in response to COVID-19. Some are directly related - such as Alicia Neptune’s pandemic page or this mask page and this page.[1] But, in this case, you have a situation where the board game printing pipeline is backed up - and people are also stuck at home - so these groups are reaching out to each other by building a giant directory of free games that can be printed out.[2]

There are a few extraordinary properties of this particular directory here though:

  • Since anyone can alter it, you actually get exposed to the raw data, sorted chronologically. Large publishers’ offerings are right next to homebrew stuff. And I don’t get the sense that anyone is bothered by that.[3]
  • Because a raw directory has become the central link of the movement (as opposed to a blog post or a summary page), it is just as natural to sumbit to the list as it is to read it. Everyone is equally attached to the main conduit of hypertext input/output.
  • Unlike a wiki page, where you have to sort out fitting your entry on the page and how to format it - you have to weave your content comfortably into a wiki page - here we have a giant append-only log. This seems to be an ideal format for this kind of sudden event. Makes me wonder what other append-only hypertext formats might be viable.[4]

I also got into going through some of the lesser-known designers in this list and found myself in some unexpected places.

  • This list of games previously printed in Tabletop Gaming Magazine - many by Anna Blackwell - were pretty interesting. I think there is a neat idea in The New Gods of Babel, a Jenga/Minecraft hybrid by Brian Molina.
  • Juegos Roll & Write - many of these print-and-play games are ‘roll & write’ games - in the vein of Yahtzee.[5] This colorful collection by Sergi Sanchez Labrador is just fun to look through.
  • Rolling Realms is by a very popular publisher (Stonemaier Games of Scythe and Wingspan fame) but this game was designed just as something to do during the pandemic and it’s been a group effort with their fans - see the comments on that page.
  • Cat Sudoku LIVE by Ta-Te Wu.
  • Also branched off into this directory, particularly the games of Douglas Ramsey, such as 30 Rails and Birdsong.

Truly nothing beats directories when it comes to discovery. You can find yourself tunneling all around the Internet. The most important part is to have contributors who are in a variety of places across the graph - and to find ways to shape it that are able to highlight all the starting points without allowing any of them to take over.

  1. I’m not endorsing these links, I’m not able to evaluate them - I’m just presenting a small sampling of the different types of directories that are everywhere right now. ↩︎

  2. This might seem like a terribly paltry and pointless response to a deadly pandemic, but I think people are trying to do whatever it is that they can do. And providing people with a group effort to put their energies is something. ↩︎

  3. Not only is there no algorithm here, there is only very light human editing to weed out spam. So the only whiff of human curation are the comments of those who report back on games they’ve played. ↩︎

  4. For example, if you used Webmentions to notify an append-only log that your page should be attached to this running stream of hypertext. ↩︎

  5. These types of games are also very practical for video call gaming. Usually you can have one person roll and everyone else can mark up their own printed sheets. ↩︎

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