Let’s be honest. If you spend any time around members of this hobby, sooner or later, you’ll run into a particular type of person: the elitist- the game snob. These people sneer at the games one enjoyed in their childhood, turning their nose up if these “inferior” products are even in their presence. If you try to get games like Risk or Clue to the table with them around, you’ll never hear the end of it. And the mere mention of Monopoly will send them into a tirade- launching them on a lecture on game mechanics and the history of game design. “These aren’t proper games,” they’ll sneer. “There are better games to play,” they’ll shout. But the fact of the matter is that these are games. Are they great games? No. But understanding these games can tell us so much about games themselves.
As you can see from the picture at the start of this article, I myself own many of these games at which this particular type of person would sneer. I’ll be honest- do I get them to the table very often? No. Do I pull them out at game nights? Another no. Do I display them prominently amongst my collection, or keep them on the lowest shelf, out of sight? Well, that would definitely be the latter. However, these games are for many people their introduction to the hobby. They are gateway games, if you will. This means they have an important place in this hobby.
Risk teaches risk assessment and balancing the needs of the moment and a larger goal- not to mention is many people’s first introduction to miniatures and diplomacy among players. Monopoly is many people’s first experience with house rules, the modding of the analog world. Heck, even Candy Land teaches children about the basics of counting and color identification. Are there flaws in the design of these games? Certainly. Would many of us rather spend our time playing something newer and flashier? Absolutely. But these games still deserve a place in your game collections, dear readers. Not just because you may have a newer or younger player visit who might genuinely want to play one of these games, but because if you truly want to understand the games you enjoy now, you need to understand where they came from.
So don’t sneer, don’t be a snob. Don’t judge others for the games on their shelves or the ones they enjoy playing. Be a well-rounded player and treat these games with the sense of context they deserve. Because in the end, we’re all part of the same hobby, regardless of the different games that we each enjoy.