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The Stories Behind Some Of The Biggest Board Games

The Stories Behind Some Of The Biggest Board Games

The games we love don’t just magically materialize out of the spiraling ether. Hardly. They’re the products of real, flesh-and-blood human beings who put unearthly amounts of work, stress, and thought in–crafting experiences to repeatedly entertain us. Great Big Story gives these creatives their moments in the Sun throughout this profile series, and the clips are both enlightening and endearing.

It might not seem obvious that Settlers of Catan is meant to re-create the viking conquest of Iceland, but that’s totally what was rolling through Klaus Teuber’s noodle when he created the game in ’94. While Catan was an immediate success, Teuber’s first foray into professional gaming was actually the much lesser-known Barbarosa in ’88. Prior to that, he worked as a dentist, and could only devise games as a hobby. Maybe the most delightful detail in this profile is that Teuber still calls upon his sons, Guido and Benny, for play-testing. And the trio has maintained a years-long rivalry… in games Klaus invented. Watch on, and hear the most important Catan play-tip from the best authority on the subject.

Jokes about the Game of Life‘s grim implications are low-hanging fruit, but many don’t realize that the Life we all know is actually a brightened-up version of the original game Milton Bradley built his brand on. And as the story goes, it was borne out of a period of utter desperation in the man’s career. Seriously. You’ll have to watch the vid to truly chart how bad investments and Abe Lincoln’s style choices led to Bradley’s financial ruin. Suffice it to say, though, he was in a nasty enough spot that the original offered “disgrace” and “suicide” as potential outcomes for players. How precious does Life seem, now?

Who better to speak to the hearts of boy-crazy middle school girls than a room full of middle-aged men? Mike Gray, one of Bradley’s successors, opens up about the M.O. for designing 90s classics like Dream Phone. Though, he’s quick to admit he maybe wasn’t the best choice to make Mall Madness. The man’s been teased over the years for presenting a very mannish destination-not-the-journey angle on the shopping experience. Though, in his defense, what is a board game without clear objectives? Gray’s quote about games being “togetherness in a box” is instant meme material, at least.

What other designers deserve a clever video profile? Put suggestions in the talkback!

Featured Image Credit: Great Big Story

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