Winter 2014 Editorial

A Piece of the Antidote


Sometimes listening to the news can be demoralizing and just plain sad. As I’m writing this, we have marked the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown Connecticut when one truly disturbed gunman took the lives of 26 people including 20 children in a burst of gunfire. At the same time, another troubled teen entered a school with weapons (reportedly a shotgun, machete and Molotov cocktails) looking for a teacher and ending up shooting and killing a 17 year old classmate. And this is only two of the far too many many instances of gunplay taking the lives of innocent people in situations that seem truly unfathomable.

It’s been suggested that it’s all about gun control. Others stress mental health and treatment of disturbed individuals as key factors. But a small (and maybe not so small) piece of the problem is the rise and use of technology.

Now progress is a wonderful thing. Advances in technology are staggering and, for the most part, terrific in improving the quality of life and I’m not for a minute urging a return to the 19th century. But, as with almost everything, things have unforeseen consequences. As the tide of technology rises, humanity recedes. We need to restore the human elements in humanity. With all these advances bringing people together on one level, it’s amazing just how little PERSONAL interaction there is.

You’ve probably seen, as I have, kids sitting at the same table, faces down, buried in their handheld electronic devices, TEXTING. Not looking at each other, not talking to each other but TEXTING. (Sometimes, even texting each other while they’re sitting there together!) It doesn’t stop there. People reveal EVERYTHING about themselves on Facebook so you’d think that would bring people closer and yet cyberbullying encompasses words and actions normal human beings would NEVER do or say on a face to face basis. And I’m not the only one that sees this as a problem.

According to published newspaper reports, a number of websites including Google and the Huffington Post are trying to curb excesses by doing everything from employing moderators to requiring people to log in with their REAL names in attempts to restore civility to online exchanges. This technological closeness often becomes degrees of separation. When you don’t recognize fellow human beings as fellow human beings, when you are desensitized to and distanced from them, they cease to be living, breathing fellow creatures and you cease to treat them as such. To a certain extent, that could account for the inexplicable responses to real (or perceived) problems that rapidly escalate from rational responses to explosive and destructive conclusions.

I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist or expert of any kind on human behavior or why things like this have happened. But let me throw in my two cents and offer what I see to be a piece of the antidote to this alarming trend.

Although games have embraced technological advances (playing games with various APs, for example, is an expanding phenomenon), games, if we remember their roots and apply them, can, at their best, be a piece of the antidote to what can be our worst. They can serve to resurrect the dying qualities of sportsmanship and respect for your opponents. When you actually sit across a gaming table, face to face with your competitors, you need to and want to communicate, sometimes verbally, sometimes through actions taken, but always on a more personal, human, level. You are connecting with another human being. It’s easy to hate “in the abstract”. It’s much harder to hate so much that you need to explode in violence when you see the “other person” as a human being who shares some qualities with you, who, in more ways than you might at first realize, is like you. And that’s a piece of the antidote worth exploring.

This issue of GA Report is the first for 2014! This time around, we get in touch with our inner Indiana Jones, cross paths and do our own kind of tap dance! Greg J. Schloesser gets that sinking feeling, Kevin Whitmore goes planetary while Jeff Feuer see stars. Chris Kovacs goes “Norse, young man” and Andrea “Liga” Ligabue get steamed. Pevans travels down a glass road and Joe Huber get nautical (but nice)! And, of course, much more, including the return of our Game Classics Series!
Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President

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Winter 2014 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by: Chris Kovac (What's Your Game?, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes, $50) Asgard is a four player worker placement game designed by Pierluca Zizzi with a theme of Nordic gods battling it out for control of the seven worlds. The goal of the game is to have the most points (by building temples, winning battles during normal rounds of ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (USAopoly, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 15-30 minutes, $24.95) With the success of Telestrations (featured in the Spring 2011 issue of Gamers Alliance Report), it seems that USAopoly has decided that the mass market for games is a market worth exploring. And so they have with two new releases (both featured this issue). This review focuses on one ...
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[With Jeff Feuer casting an eye on Star Realms and drawing some comparisons between it and Ascention: Chronicle of the Godslayer as both was done by the same designer, we thought it would be a good idea and useful to our readers to "flashback" to Jeff's initial look at Ascension in his review as it first appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of GA Report.] ...
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[One of our popular semi-regular features has been Game Classics, a look back at some great games that, for various reasons, no longer populate the shelves of game stores or online retailers. We haven't done one of these since 2010 when we featured Star Reporter by Parker Brothers. Now, several years later, in this, our latest installment, we take a look at another Parker game ...
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Reviewed by: Pevans (Feuerland/Z-Man Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 80 minutes, $64.99) After making a big impact with their first game, Terra Mystica, in 2012, I was intrigued to see what Feuerland Spiele would come up with for 2013. The answer is a new game from Uwe Rosenberg, Die Glasstrasse. Z-Man Games publishes the English language edition, Glass Road, and I ...
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Reviewed by: Kevin Whitmore (Fantasy Flight Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 120-240 minutes, $79.99) Merchant of Venus was originally released in 1988 by Avalon Hill. Designed by Richard Hamblen, players explore a forgotten wing of deep space. With the demise of Monarch/Avalon Hill in 1998, copies of this game gradually disappeared, eventually turning this game into a "grail" game. For awhile, ...
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Reviewed by: Joe Huber (Kosmos, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90+ minutes, $69.99) Wolfgang Kramer is one of the most notable game designers around, nearly four decades after his first published design and three decades after his first Spiel des Jahres award. It’s interesting to note how his career shifted, over time, from designing almost exclusively on his own to designing most ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Victory Point Games, 2-4 players, ages 13 and up, 20-30 minutes; $21.99) Hundreds of years ago, when explorers from Europe set out to explore the New World of the Americas, little did they realize that their adventures would become the sources of inspiration for game designers everywhere. But exploration is the theme in Old World, New World, the new game designed ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Days of Wonder, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 40-80 minutes, $60) Intrepid explorers, delving into the mysteries of ancient ruins and temples to recover valuable artifacts, are the roles facing players in Relic Runers, the latest release from Days of Wonder, designed by Matthew Dunstan. Relic Runners comes in the typical Days of Wonder big square box which, ...
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Reviewed by: Greg J. Schloesser (Ludonaute, 1 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 30 minutes, about $29) Solitaire (also known as Patience and Klondike, which has some minor variations) must be one of the most universally played card games. Its origin is not known with exact certainty, but is widely attributed to Lady Adelaide Cadogan, whose book Games of Patience contained the solitaire card ...
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Reviewed by: Jeff Feuer (White Wizard Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 12 and up, 20 minutes, $14.95) Star Realms is a deck-building card game for any number of players (each copy of the game lets you add up to 2 more players) by designers Robert Doughtery (co-designer of Ascension and it’s expansions) and Darwin Kastle (co-designer with Doughtery on Battleground: Fantasy Warfare). The designers ...
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Reviewed by: Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Cranio Creations, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $34.99) What really makes the difference between a success and an average game is sometimes something not really well defined that deals with the great mystery of what is fun. To me, what really makes a game fun is a mix of good rules, entertainment, challenges, theme, graphics ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (USAopoly, 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up, 10-20 minutes, $19.95) Another one in the recent spate of mass market offerings from USAopoly is a word game category game twist which is described as a Touch Activate Press & Play Letter Eliminator or, for short, Tapple. As a category game, Tapple derives its inspiration from the original German word game ...
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A Piece of the Antidote Sometimes listening to the news can be demoralizing and just plain sad. As I'm writing this, we have marked the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown Connecticut when one truly disturbed gunman took the lives of 26 people including 20 children in a burst of gunfire. At the same time, another troubled teen entered a school with weapons ...
Read More

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