The Social Science of German Gaming
By Bryan Caplan
Undercover Economist Tim Harford puts Germany’s mighty gaming industry/culture under his detective’s magnifying glass. Here’s five theories: human capital, weak competition from television, tradition/weirdness, low concentration ratios, and Great Man:
“There are two schools of thought as to why the Germans love board
games,” says Martin Wallace of Warfrog. “The Germans are of the opinion
that it’s down to their superior education system. We English are of
the opinion that it’s because German TV is sh***.”
are, in fact, many more than two schools of thought about why Germany
is the world’s board game superpower. It could be the enthusiasm of the
citizens. In a country such as Britain, it is downright odd to pull a
board game out of a cupboard and offer to teach it to friends alongside
after-dinner coffee. In Germany, people do that and more. They discuss
old games and act as evangelists for new ones. Naturally, the games are
better as a result.
The cause could also be Germany’s pluralistic
gaming tradition: most countries play games, but German gaming has
never been dominated by a single game – unlike Japan (Go) or Russia
(chess). But it could also be the influence of a single pioneer, Erwin
Glonnegger. Born in southern Germany in 1925, Glonnegger joined the
publisher Ravensburger after the war, where he became its first board
game “editor”, working with designers through the 1950s and 1960s to
produce a series of elegant games now considered timeless.
P.S. If you’ll be in DC next weekend and want to try some German games named in the article (or something more esoteric like Bill Dickens‘ latest LARP or Nerd Charades), friend me on Facebook and ask for an invitation to Capla-Con 2010 – July 23 and 24.