Why Germans Didn’t Want To Play Risk

In his piece for the Atlantic, The Invasion of the German Board Games, Jonathan Kay brings up an interesting bit about how history informed the board game movement.

In North America, the complex board games created during the latter half of the 20th century typically took the form of simulated warfare. In Risk, Axis & Allies, Star Fleet Battles, and Victory in the Pacific, players take on the role of generals moving their units around tabletop maps. But for obvious reasons, this wasn’t a model that resonated positively with the generation of Germans who grew up in the shadow of the Third Reich. Which helps explain why all of the most popular Eurogames are based around building things—communities (Catan), civilizations (Terra Mystica), farms (Agricola)—rather than annihilating opponents. The result is a vastly more pacifist style of a game that can appeal to women as much as men, and to older adults as much as high-testosterone adolescents.

I had never thought about how Germans would have had an aversion to the American style of take-over-the-world conquest games. It makes sense, though, having lived through the terror or aftermath of the Nazi expansionist regime, that they would not want to emulate that as a form of play. I can also understand the extent to which the building style of games would appeal to a broader demographic.

Robert Rackley @rcrackley
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