Why is it that board games have such a terrible reputation with the general public? According to Cracked.com, the problem is so many of the perennially-popular family games are very poor examples of game design, and bad memories of wet Saturday afternoons have coloured perceptions so much that nobody is aware that far better games exist.
6 Board Games That Ruined It for Everyone starts out by eviscerating Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders is the original sin of board games, the first mistake that curses innocents with the knowledge that things suck. It takes the infinite imagination engines that are children and makes them to do the same thing over and over until they’re done or done even trying. The last person to destroy fantasy worlds so brutally was Sauron.
But saves it’s worst for that horror of horrors, Monopoly:
The whole point of the game is proving that capitalism is utterly broken and unfair, and people still play it to get their go at winning. Parents would be better off buying their kids a rack and a My Little Inquisition scalpel set. There’s the same aspect of taking turns to torture each other, and at least that way the kids learn about anatomy.
The author then goes on to suggest other, better games, amongst them Settlers of Catan and Power Grid.
Saying that, designing a good family game, as opposed to one aimed at boardgame enthusiasts isn’t easy. Gamers are comfortable with complex rules and games that take all day to play. Also hobby games don’t need to remain playable with a group of players of widely-variable skill, which probably the main reason why so many family games rely heavily on luck rather than on strategy.
So what is the reason Monopoly remains a popular seller, and why haven’t games like Settlers of Catan superceded it?