Is there such a thing as a bad game?

I was talking to another gentleman this morning that also owns a game store and we were discussing if there is such a thing as a bad game?  It is a good question I think.  I have played games that I felt were bad but were they truly or were they just a bad fit for me?

We were talking specifically about board games at the time but the game that leaped to mind was Cyborg Commando.  An RPG by Gary Gygax that was in essence bionic commandos blowing up bugs in space.  It was a long time ago that I had a copy of the game and I can not remember specifically what I did not like about it but it is the first thing that jumped to mind.

My Family, forced to smile once a year for my weird alternative style
My Family, forced to smile once a year for my weird alternative style

Of course there is my legendary hatred of Monopoly too.  If you have been in store at any stage you may have witnessed one of my rants about Monopoly and how it is the most purchased game (behind chess and scrabble) that only about 40% of the copies purchased are ever opened!  But it is my experience of that game that has lead me to this point (if you are wondering, I do not stock Monopoly in store).  I grew up in a small house of a nuclear family.  Mum, Dad, my brother Michael and I.  I can not ever remember my Dad playing anything other than Scrabble or chess on occasion with us and Mum rarely played because of the fights Monopoly would engender.  My brother flatly refused to trade – ever – with me and so in general he always won because I would trade with him and it would devolve into arguments and a pointless barrage of name calling.

Monopoly left its scars, so we had other games bought for us – a sailing game around the time Australia won the America’s Cup, a Star Wars game about getting onto the Death Star and blowing it up and a couple of others which did not revolve around trading or civil behavior!  So, it was with great amusement that I have been musing over this today.  It is the first of the month (March) here in Australia and that means a new game of the month for my store and I have laid out my own personal version of Carcassonne, a game I love.  But is it just because it is a game that suits me?

I have always been a bit on the alternative side of things.  In a market that offered D&D I would run Earthdawn.  I am not a fan of Numenera but I love the Cypher System rulebook.  If there is an alternate to the mainstream, you will find me supporting it and I revel in that.  Of all the things I could have written a sourcebook for (Pathfinder etc.) my first published work is for Lords of Gossamer and Shadow.  Looking at this there is no surprise that the store I run seeks to ignore the mainstream games and promote those that are lesser known.  In fact, in a weird way, could I actually thank Monopoly and my (now passed on) brother for the frustration that caused me to look for alternatives?

I have a cupboard full of games that I only get to play once a year (on my birthday) as my family thinks they are left of centre – but that is all good!  I can live with the disappointment for that one day when I get to crack out Scotland Yard and watch my wife and family force a smile on their faces while we play for that glorious hour or so!  What do you think?  Are there bad games?  Or are their just games that are bad for you?

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