All posts filed under: Games

Goa, Gods, Gandhi and Greed: Lessons in Colonialism from Four Boardgames

It’s an eight-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto to Indianapolis. And the route, which takes me through Sarnia, Detroit, Toledo and Fort Wayne, is far from scenic. But Gen Con is the biggest boardgame convention in North America, and there’s no direct flight between the two cities. Which is why, during the first four days of August, I spent 17 hours in my car getting to the gaming floor at Lucas Oil Stadium, best known as the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Almost 70,000 gamers attended Gen Con this year, including fans of every boardgame under the sun. I tell people that boardgaming isn’t a culture. It’s really a collection of subcultures, since fans of one gaming niche often have little interest in any of the others. But balkanized as it is, the hobby has taken on some unifying characteristics in recent years, including a commitment to diversity, inclusivity and what might generally be called political “wokeness.” Gen Con itself has an anti-harassment policy that bans “any behavior that…produces an unsafe or non-inclusive environment,” including “offensive …

Entering the Mind of an Inuit Whale-Hunter

This is a review of the Greenland (Second Ed.) Board Game, from Sierra Madre Games. A bowhead whale is a majestic and intimidating creature—up to 60 feet in length, weighing up to 100 tons, with a triangular hunk of bone for a skull, which the bowhead uses to smash through Arctic ice on its way to the ocean surface. Yet amazingly, the Indigenous peoples of northern Europe and North America found a way to kill and harvest these massive creatures without modern ships or weapons. Their hunts, conducted by small kin groups operating out of coastal hunting camps, could be extraordinarily risky. Even the job of butchering the giant beasts and hauling the proceeds back home was exhausting and dangerous. But the enterprise was worthwhile, because a single Bowhead might provide enough food and fuel to keep the hunters and their families alive for a whole year. Any visitor to the far north can only marvel at how any community could not only survive, but at times even flourish, in a region where almost any modern …