If you, over these last twelve years (holy cats), have followed my column with any regularity, then you are most aware that yours truly is rather enthusiastic over board games. Some know me as “the movie guy” or “the record guy,” but when people ask me what my hobbies are I tend to answer with board games first and foremost, as I see the other two as more “life essentials.” Some of you may also be aware that popular crowdsourcing website Kickstarter has been the home to many a board game’s launching pad, most notably that crazily popular party game of the last few years Cards Against Humanity.
Collecting board games to me is beyond just having a game to enjoy playing with friends, though that is very much part of it. On the one hand, board games are art pieces. Unique visual graphic designs created for each and every part included the game. On the other hand, board games can also serve as pop culture memorabilia. Take a trek through eBay sometime and you can see that almost every TV series during the 60s through the 80s had a board game in some fashion or another. My collection is home to, as an example, board incarnations of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Bionic Woman.”
But above all board games are a fun hobby that speaks to the core of my being, which is that of an overly enthusiastic 12 year old—I am, and perhaps forever will be, a kid at heart. The benefit of backing board games on Kickstarter is not just helping someone bring their creative vision to life, but to see how the game evolves from concept to final art, to production, to arrival at your front door. To date, I’ve backed three games on Kickstarter. The most recent one just ending its funding campaign a few weeks ago, an updated version of the 1986 cult favorite game “Fireball Island”—original copies of which go for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
My friends become all too aware of whenever I’m backing a game on Kickstarter because in my excitement over the whole affair I generally won’t stop talking about it for months. “Oh, did you see this? They broke the half a million mark in just a day!” I’ll say. When the creators of the game send out an update for something where they’re adding to the quality of the game components, I’ll talk about that too. Showing off concept photos on my phone like a proud papa. “Did you see this? They’ve added silver foil highlights to the box art!” or “Did you see this? They’ve changed this from a cardboard application to a crafted wooden piece that can hold your treasures. It’s a nice touch isn’t it?”
Backing “Fireball Island” has been a bit different, as I convinced a buddy of mine to back the game as well, so most of these comments have been in a text thread he and I have had going for about a month now. Still, that doesn’t mean that randomly at dinner I haven’t turned to a friend next to me and said “Hey, did you see this? They’ve made the marbles fancy!” It all gets back to that “kid at heart” core of mine, and to a degree how I would eat up a new board game when I was a kid and ooh and ahh over all the parts and pieces—which was great when it was a game with 3D playing areas like the much beloved 90s cult classic game “13 Dead End Drive.”
Most of the time I think my friend’s don’t mind listening to my excitement over these games I back online. It’s good they’re there for me, or otherwise, I’d be doing events like “An Evening With Andy Ross” where I’d take over an auditorium to just show off my board game collection in-between readings of selected columns from over the years. Actually, you know what? That’s not a bad idea. I gotta get someone on the phone. See you next week.