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‘Secret Hitler’: Board game of the year (from the same people who sold you a box of Bullshit)
03.27.2017
02:32 pm

Topics:
Games
History

Tags:
board games
Secret Hitler


 
A few years ago, I was living in New York City but had struck up some friendships in Cleveland, where I would eventually relocate. I had heard about this funny game Cards Against Humanity and it had struck my fancy, so I plunked down 25 bucks in some virtual kiosk and got myself a set. At a New Year’s Party in Cleveland a few months later, I unveiled it to the assembled revelers, and it rapidly became the dominant activity of the party. A few months later, and it was hard to find a party where it did not get mentioned as a possible activity.

Cards Against Humanity, the self-styled “party game for horrible people,” was the brainchild of multiple people, one of the most prominent of whom was Max Temkin, who has now teamed up with video game producers Mike Boxleiter and Tommy Maranges to find out if they could create a “social deduction” board game with the addictiveness of CAH.

My money says that they have.

The subject of an attention-getting Kickstarter that amassed nearly $1.5 million, Secret Hitler became available to consumers around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, which certainly speaks to impeccable timing on the part of Goat, Wolf, and Cabbage LLC, the company that is distributing the game. The game made a minor splash in late February when they shipped a free copy to all 100 U.S. Senators, thereby making explicit whatever metaphorical connections to the daily headlines may have been buzzing around your brain. 

As with Cards Against Humanity, the people behind Secret Hitler have taken a staunchly populist and what might be termed anti-corporate approach—and the two games are united by a similar sense of cheeky humor. In both cases users have been encouraged to print up their own sets of the game for free, if they so choose. Here’s the GitHub online implementation of the game. To celebrate Black Friday in 2014, the CAH people invited people to send them six bucks in exchange for “Bullshit,” which is exactly what they ended up receiving.
 

 
In the game, it’s Germany 1932, and the Liberals are pitted against the Fascists (one of whom is Hitler). The Fascists know which players are Fascists (and by extension, which players are Liberals), but the Liberals don’t know what side any of the other players is on. Gameplay varies according to the number of players (5-10), but in most versions Hitler does not know who his (or her) supporters are.

Every game begins with a clever ritual in which all players close their eyes, and then, on a given cue, Fascists open their eyes and ID one another. The game comes with an app in which a recorded message by Wil Wheaton guides you through the process.

The game proceeds by repeatedly naming a President who must select a Chancellor, the two of whom then must collaborate to place Liberal or Fascist policies on the board. Both sides have two paths to victory: if the Liberals place 5 policies on the board, they win, and the same is true of the Fascists, except they need 6 policies. The Liberals can win by assassinating Hitler, and the Fascists can win if they manage to get Hitler elected Chancellor after sufficient information about the players’ identities has been distributed (that is, after three Fascist policies have made it onto the board).

Basically, at every point in the game, all players will be claiming to be Liberals; the trick is to track game moves to figure out who is actively pushing Fascist policies and who has been forced by circumstance to promote them against their will.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Amusing ‘Punk!’ pinball machine from the early 1980s hints at certain bands to avoid paying them
03.27.2017
10:21 am

Topics:
Games
Music
Punk

Tags:
punk
pinball


 
I’ve never liked arcade video games much, but I’ve always been really into pinball machines. So much so that in the last few years I’ve joined a local pinball league (great fun!) and visited a few pinball conventions. I’ve even driven way out of my way to visit specific coffee shops and pizzerias just because some model I hadn’t played before was available to use.

So over the weekend I come across an amazing image of a “Punk!” pinball machine from D. Gottlieb & Company, universally known as “Gottlieb,” that dates from the year 1982. I’ve never even seen an image of this game before, much less played it. Every DM reader is aware of the cross-pollination involved between punk and new wave, there’s a lot to be said on that subject, and yet….. there’s something off about this game.

It’s amusing to see how some of the major punk acts are “implied” in a non-licensed way by having scrawled graffiti with certain letters blocked out so that nobody could really say which band starting with “S-I-O” is being referenced.

So you can spot Siouxsie Sioux being invoked on the right-hand side; at the bottom you have “EAD BO” which is surely the Dead Boys. At the top you’ve got the Ramones and the Jam and the Clash being signaled. Interesting to see Joy Division tucked away up there as well. On the backglass, behind the guitarist’s left leg, you have what appears to be the word “DAMNED” partially blocked, all the more enticing to a teen demographic because it involves a curse word.

But wait—what’s that on the left-hand side there? “PECH—M—”? How did Depeche Mode get involved with this?? They are definitely not punk!

Remember, 1981 was the high point of the synth-pop movement, with Soft Cell, Ultravox, and OMD all in their prime. This machine may say “Punk!” on it but it mainly has me thinking of Square Pegs and Valley Girl.

On this Pinside forum there’s a lively discussion about the game—not surprisingly, Punk! is a very difficult game to find from a collector’s perspective. One observer comments that “it is among the most difficult and nearly impossible pins to aquire.” Fewer than 1,000 were made, and even though the gameplay does not look all that interesting, it’s such a great item to have around that people who have it probably seldom let it go. 

Price estimates run around $800, which is a fairly ordinary price for a machine of this type. Given its rarity, if the gameplay were actually engaging the sky would be the limit here!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Full deck of awesome Japanese monster playing cards

001onetwoclubs.jpg
1. Vampire Kyuradorosu.  2. Pollution monster Kashuasu.
 
File under: “things I wish I’d have known in school.”

This pack of Japanese playing cards features a selection of pachimon kaiju or “imitation monsters” lifted from various hit TV shows and movies. These monsters range from fire-breathing gorillas to flying creatures from outer space and giant electrocuting humanoids. The set was apparently manufactured as a promotional pack for kids by a Japanese brand of mayonnaise called Kewpie.

I’d have surely eaten my egg-mayo sandwiches without complaint if I’d been dealt a hand of these fun little beauties.
 
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3. Ice monster Gohoho.  4. Creature form outer space Altamegaro.
 
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5. Pesticide monster Deredoron.  6. Ancient dinosaur Tapikurosaurus.
 
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7. Elekipurosu—a giant electrocuting humanoid.  8. Meji—an extraterrestrial wolf who can fly.
 
See the whole monstrous deck, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
I was a 15-year-old Billy Corgan impersonator


 
Before the “World Wide Web” became a thing and only AOL and CompuServe existed for games and chat rooms, Sierra On-line (the software company responsible for such classic adventure games as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry) developed a highly imaginative and groundbreaking environment known as The ImagiNation Network. Initially launched on May 6th, 1991 as “The Sierra Network,” this friendly, graphics-heavy interface was so simple, advertising promised that even your grandmother would find it easy to “play games, make friends and have fun.” As a teenage computer geek I was instantly hooked after being introduced by my friend Brad Warner and spent hundreds of hours using the service: running up my parents credit card bill, holding up my families landline for several hours at a time, and experimenting with fake profiles when the internet was so new that you could effortlessly fool just about anybody.
 
Before entering ImagiNation you’d use the FaceMaker to create your appearance choosing your skin color, facial features, glasses, clothes, and hairstyle. There were enough variables built in to create over 84 million unique personas. Then you’d walk through the virtual gates and let the fun begin: Red Baron, Mini Golf, Paintball, or Boogers in SierraLand. Gambling at the casino and exchanging lewd late night talk in LarryLand (for adults only), or slaying dragons with strangers in MedievaLand. Before anybody had heard of an email address there was a post office where you could purchase “Sierra Stamps” and send messages to other users.

Through a alternative music chatroom, I befriended a cool 13-year-old Korean girl from Houston named Judy Suh who had purple hair and owned an electric guitar. We both had tickets to see the Smashing Pumpkins headline Lollapalooza ‘94 in our respective cities that summer and agreed to share our photos from the concert. Technology had yet to find a way to share photos on the internet so we made photocopies at Kinko’s and snail mailed them to each other.
 

 
In 1995 Judy suddenly disappeared from the ImagiNation Network without a trace, a few weeks later I found out that her parents banned her from using the service after running up their credit card bill. At that time the pricing structure was incredibly expensive: $9.95 per month for only 4 hours plus $3.50 for each additional hour, or $120 a month for unlimited time. Shortly after that my parents also banned me from the service because I was using their dial-up modem and holding up our six person household landline. Friends and family members complained that they received a busy signal over and over for hours and were furious when they couldn’t get through.
 
Heartbroken, and not yet ready to give up my addiction I took to desperate measures to get back on-line. I went over to Brad Warner’s house with a floppy disc, found the directory where his password file was stored and successfully copied it into the same directory on my computer enabling me to sign onto ImagiNation with Brad’s account. This illegal and back-stabbing act gave me so much confidence that soon I wanted to know what else I could get away with. I began secretly signing on late at night after my parents went to bed. Using the FaceMaker to create a new persona, I started posing as Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan. I had read every Alternative Press, SPIN, and Melody Maker interview that had been published up until that point and felt strongly that I knew enough about Billy Corgan that I could convince people that I was him. The April 1994 Rolling Stone cover story I purchased at Sam Goody proved to be a particularly detailed profile and helped me understand Billy’s troubled childhood and upbringing in a time before background information on celebrities was easily accessible on websites like Wikipedia. I was successful in fooling dozens of fans: answering questions from growing up in Glendale Heights, Illinois, to D’arcy Wretzky’s sisters photography on Smashing Pumpkins single covers, to dispelling rumors that I played the little brother on the TV show Small Wonder. After about a week I was called out for falsely claiming that the Mike Mills who played piano on the song “Soma” off the album Siamese Dream was not the same guy as the bassist from R.E.M. My cover was blown.
 

 
Soon after I was outed as an imposter by the ImagiNation community I received a call from Brad who wanted to know why there was a message from Chris Williams in his virtual Post Office box. I had forgotten that I reached out to Sierra On-Line founders Ken & Roberta Williams’ son Chris (also 15-years-old) on the network, totally not expecting him to reply. I confessed to Brad that I had stolen his password and I had been signing on under his account. That was the end of our friendship and the last time I ever used the service. In 1996 ImagiNation was purchased and then ultimately shut down forever by America Online. In 2007 there was a brief attempt to revive ImagiNation through reverse engineering and use of DOSBox, but there wasn’t enough interest in the emulator for it to take off. One fan on the “Return of Talking Time” message board, however, fondly remembered his experience on ImagiNation over 20 years later:
 

“I had a ridiculous experience with ImagiNation Network when I was 14. I was spending the night at my friend’s house, and I brought the free ImagiNation install disk with me. After his parents went to bed, we got his mom’s credit card from her purse and used it to create an account. (IIRC, you were given a certain number of free hours to try it out, but you had to provide credit card info to get started). We tooled around for a bit, and eventually ended up in one of the chat areas. Somehow or another we started chatting with a guy who had us 100% convinced that he was Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Seriously. We weren’t dumb kids, but holy crap does that sound profoundly moronic in hindsight. Anyhow, we stayed up all night talking to Billy C, and ended up surpassing our free trial. When the credit card bill came later that month, my friend had to fess up to his mom. She wasn’t buying the Billy Corgan story, and I was never allowed to spend the night at his house again.”

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Fake Nintendo movie tie-in games that would be super fun to play
12.12.2016
02:08 pm

Topics:
Games
Movies
Science/Tech

Tags:
Nintendo Entertainment System


 
Video games in the late 1980s and early 1990s were dominated by the Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as NES. In addition to Donkey Kong, which morphed into the iconic and incredibly addictive Super Mario Bros. franchise, NES also had its share of satisfying movie tie-ins, including Batman, Back to the Future, Total Recall, The Karate Kid, and Home Alone. For a slightly later generation of gamers, the best reason to remember the James Bond movie GoldenEye from the Pierce Brosnan era was the top-notch Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Conan is best not mentioned at all, though…..

A few years back, the outstanding vintage video games blog VG Junk dedicated three posts to meticulously crafted and completely fictional “wouldn’t it have been great” NES title screens for movie and TV tie-in games that I for one would love to have played.

It’s amusing to contemplate NES games that are juuuust a bit too adult (or possibly WAY too adult) like A Clockwork Orange and Jacob’s Ladder and Videodrome, but I also dig the games where the only conceivable gameplay would consist of talking, à la making sarcastic remarks about Blueshammer in Ghost World or defending the virtues of “propane and propane accessories” in King of the Hill.

Some of the movies mentioned here actually did have console game tie-ins. For example VG Junk doesn’t think very much of the 1997 video game for the PC that Westwood Studios made for Blade Runner. In any case, these are super detailed and witty.

Feast your eyes below—and keep a careful eye on that They Live title screen….
 

 

 
More great title screens after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Class Warfare: Radical French philosopher Guy Debord’s Situationist board game


Guy Debord and Alice Becker-Ho playing Kriegspiel in 1977. Photo by Jeanne Cornet via Cabinet
 
After he disbanded the Situationist International in 1972, one of the obsessions that consumed Guy Debord was a board game he invented. Kriegspiel, or Le Jeu de la Guerre—German and French, respectively, for “war game”—was based on Debord’s reading of the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. The London-based group Class Wargames describes Kriegspiel’s purpose concisely:

For Debord, The Game of War wasn’t just a game - it was a guide to how people should live their lives within Fordist society. By playing, revolutionary activists could learn how to fight and win against the oppressors of spectacular society.

So convinced was Debord of the game’s utility and revolutionary potential that, in 1977, he founded Les Jeux Stratégiques et Historiques (Strategic and Historic Games) to produce a limited run of Kriegspiel sets. Ten years later, Debord and his wife Alice Becker-Ho published a book about Kriegspiel, Le Jeu de la Guerre. Debord opens the sixth chapter of his memoir Panegyric with these reflections on his game:

I have been very interested in war, in the theoreticians of its strategy, but also in reminiscences of battles and in the countless other disruptions history mentions, surface eddies on the river of time. I am not unaware that war is the domain of danger and disappointment, perhaps even more so than the other sides of life. This consideration has not, however, diminished the attraction that I have felt for it.

And so I have studied the logic of war. Moreover, I succeeded, a long time ago, in presenting the basics of its movements on a rather simple board game: the forces in contention and the contradictory necessities imposed on the operations of each of the two parties. I have played this game and, in the often difficult conduct of my life, I have utilized lessons from it – I have also set myself rules of the game for this life, and I have followed them. The surprises of this Kriegspiel seem inexhaustible; and I fear that this may well be the only one of my works that anyone will dare acknowledge as having some value. On the question of whether I have made good use of such lessons, I will leave it to others to decide.

The Atlas Press English-language edition of Becker-Ho and Debord’s book, A Game of War, comes with a board and punch-out pieces, but Board Game Geek warns that this edition “has a faulty translation of the rules, making it more or less unplayable.” The Radical Software Group’s web version of the game has been down for some time. So if, like me, you enjoy using things without paying for them, the best bet seems to be Class Wargames’ printable boards, pieces, and battle maps. Their website also has the free book Class Wargames: Ludic subversion against spectacular capitalism, plus information about such radical board games as Imperialism in Space, which promises to give players “a critical understanding of the political and theoretical arguments of Vladimir Lenin’s famous 1916 pamphlet Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.”

After the jump, an explanation of Kriegspiel’s rules….

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Motörhead’s Orgasmatron War Pig: The ultimate stocking ... stuffer
11.23.2016
03:04 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Games
Music
Sex

Tags:
Motörhead
sex toys


 
The field of sex toys with an explicit rock music tie-in is a relatively new one, but if you think about it, it would be odd if a band who released an album called Orgasmatron and a song called “Vibratordidn’t have a line of sex toys. Clearly, this was the kind of thing Lemmy and the gang gave serious thought.

My colleague Ron Kretsch introduced readers to Lovehoney’s line of Motörhead-themed vibrators last year, so this isn’t exactly a new topic for us. The four products that were made available last year were tributes to Ace of Spades and Overkill—all of them vibrators—with prices ranging from $26.95 to $54.95.

But when they come out with new Motörhead models, well twist our arm, it’s our pleasure, nay our responsibility to let you know. Not for nothing, but the Orgasmatron thing was just lying out there waiting for something to give. Sure enough, Lovehoney has three new products, a glass dildo in both clear/black and black/gold which is a tribute to Bomber, and an “Orgasmatron War Pig Wand Vibrator.”

Here they are, beauties all:

 
Much more after the jump…....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Wonderful Japanese kaiju playing cards
10.14.2016
11:07 am

Topics:
Art
Games

Tags:
playing cards
kaiju


 
I have almost no information about these marvelous Japanese playing cards featuring some of the most fearsome kaiju monsters, blithely exposing the naked hubris inherent in all of our fancy industrial structures (mostly by tearing them apart).

Judging from the typeface and so forth, it can’t be much later than the mid-1960s, can it? Anybody out there know?

The source for these images is Flickr user ToadLickr, who indicates that these cards may have been made by the Alaska card company.

You can see quite a few more of these great cards at the endlessly rewarding blog Monster Brains.
 

 

 
More of these excellent kaiju playing cards after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pinball machine featuring the Stones, Elton John, The Who, AC/DC, KISS and many more

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The pinball arcade was where the boys in leather jackets hung out. The guys into Heavy Metal, Hell’s Angels and books by Sven Hassel. That’s what I recall from growing up. The pinball machines were always situated at the far end of the arcade—past the lines of slot machines with itchy-fingered retirees spending their hard-earned cash and the whey-faced office clerks on their lunch break in off-the-peg suits and white socks.

In those days smoking was permitted indoors—so the back of the room where the pinball machines and the boys in denim and leather hung out was always thick with blue cigarette smoke. Just go down to the back of the room and inhale a few breaths—it saved you on the cost of buying smokes.

For some reason pinball machines were associated with being tough. I was never really quite sure why. Manliness and the ability to use flippers dexterously meant—obviously in some secret code I was unable to fathom—that you were a tough guy. These boys sneered at punk. Tolerated Prog. Hated Glam and Mod—which was strange as most liked Slade and The Who. What they did like was Black Sabbath. Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. AC/DC. And The Rolling Stones—post 1968.

Their bravado was all front—like the flashing lights and bells of the pinball machines they played. The pinball was a totem for their nascent identity. In a few years time, some of these boys would be in their own off-the-peg suits playing slot machines during their lunch breaks.

Pinball has always had that macho outsider image—which probably explains why certain hard rockin’ bands and artistes have opted to merchandise their product through pinball machines.
 
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More rock and pop pinball machines, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Notable airplane crashes recreated in flight simulator program
08.29.2016
09:01 am

Topics:
Games

Tags:
airplanes


Aftermath of the 1986 Cerritos mid-air collision—this is not going to end well…..
 
A young man in the Philippines named Allec Joshua Ibay has developed an interesting—and morbid—hobby. Using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, Ibay likes to recreate noteworthy airline crashes from the past.

Ibay’s dedication to this hobby is impressive, with upwards of 30 such crashes now documented on YouTube. The tone is uniformly elegiac, with lachrymose music cues, but the videos also attempt to foreground useful information such as the actual dialogue between the doomed pilots and the control tower.
 

 
On some level Ibay knows that what he’s doing is creepy. The default video on his YouTube user page is a 9/11 tribute—not to worry, Ibay has done simulations of both UA Flight 175 and AA Flight 11. He seems to have gone out of his way to find FS2004 topics that are a bit less unsettling, as for instance this tribute to Heathrow or this compilation of safe landings on the island of Sint Maarten, where the airport is notoriously much too close to the beach, which has led to some fairly hilarious pictures of volleyball players confronted with a 747 jet landing almost right on top of them. (Last year we took a look at Jet Airliner: The Complete Works, a memorable book of such photos.) Ibay is currently 18, and some of these videos are more than a year old—I’d feel a little more squicked out if Ibay were in his thirties.

After the jump, some of Ibay’s greatest, er, “hits”......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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