Tom Vasel is probably the best know boardgame reviewer. I’m thrilled to be the very first in his series of designer’s best games.
Cela fait presque trente ans que je connais Harald Bilz, de Heidelberger Spieleverlag. Il a été mon premier éditeur outre-Rhin, pour la version allemande de Tempête sur l’Échiquier, puis pour Bongo. Il y a un mois encore, on s’était croisé à la Gen Con, à Indianapolis, et on avait bu quelques bières en riant de bon cœur. Il était passionné, fidèle, pince sans rire et, surtout, joueur. Et il était l’auteur de Burp et Neolithibum.
I knew Harald Bilz, from Heidelberger Spieleverlag for about thirty years. He was my first German publisher, for Tschach, then for Bongo, and never failed me. One month ago, we were laughing and drinking beer together in the hotel lobby at Gen Con. He was impassioned, truthful, deadpan and, most of all, a gamer. And the designer of Burp and Neolithibum.
An open letter to my american friends
These last days, I’ve been more often than usually on the internet, checking for news, both global news and news of some friends – and all my friends ended well. I made this mostly through Facebook, and was comforted by the signs of solidarity from the whole world – and especially from the US. There was, however, something a bit annoying in the way many americans expressed their solidarity, something that might just have been a bit clumsy, but might also show echoes of good old cultural imperialism.
It started in the very first hours after the event, when I was still hearing the procession of ambulances under my windows. It started with the proliferation on the internet of these « Pray for Paris » pictures.
I know that a large majority of american people are believers in one religion or another. In France, though most people have been baptized to please the odd grandmother, a majority of the people, and an overwhelming majority of the young and of the Parisians, define themselves as atheists or agnostics. Solidarity has to be inclusive, and while a call for prayers might sound inclusive for Americans, it can only be perceived here as discriminating, as a way to tell to the majority of the Parisian that they are not even worthy of showing their solidarity to their dead friends. This is even more true when the victims were killed in the name of religion.
Furthermore, the young people killed were watching a soccer match, drinking wine in open bars and, for most of them, listening to rock music. The killers want to forbid all of this and make us pray.
In a way, even if your idea of God is completely different from theirs, if you answer with prayers, they have won. Answer with more dancing, drinking and partying is probably more difficult, but if we manage to do it, and that’s what we are trying to do in Paris now, they have failed. French religious authorities, be they Christian, Muslim or Jewish, have felt the mood quite well and been very discreet so far.
I am extremely grateful to Facebook for their safe check feature, which helped me track a few friends immediately after the events, though why it was not implemented in Beyrouth the day before remains a disturbing question. But I am also a bit angry against Facebook for their « French flag » feature, a clumsy decision probably taken in a hurry, in some Californian office, with the purest intentions but without any consideration neither at what was really targeted in the killings, nor at the French political situation.
It is not, or not only, France which was attacked last Friday. The terrorists deliberately targeted people having fun – in a stadium, in bars, in restaurants, in one of the best Parisian rock concert venue. The target was Partying as much as France, and a symbol of Parisian life like the Eiffel tower, or a glass of wine, much better fitted as a sign of solidarity than a nationalist flag. Anyway, the feature was implemented in Facebook, and it is so easy to use it that French flags are now everywhere, thus giving the wrong idea that what is happening is a war of nations.
While this was indeed the Revolution flag in the late XVIIIth and XIXth century, the blue-white-red banner is now used only in very official occasions. It is not, like the US flag, in everyone’s garden. Only the nationalist right wing sports it everywhere. Immediately after the event, European artists had started too paint and spread a few commemorative images, mostly in grey or black – there was a really nice one with the Eiffel Tower inside the Peace symbol. All of them had carefully avoided the use of the national colors, in order to prevent any nationalist recuperation.
Anyway, once more, I heartily thank all the people who have used this feature, and I thank Facebook because it was much better than nothing, but I regret that they didn’t take just one or two hours to find something more subtle.
So, it’s really great, in times of stress, to feel the solidarity of friends. I heartily thank my many American friends for their shows of solidarity. I must say however, in the most friendly way, that it felt sometimes a bit like the old uncle at a funeral, always trying to comfort everyone and saying just the wrong thing – but we love him nevertheless.
BTW, Beyrouth also was a place of fun, partying and open bars, but it was long ago.
Après deux ans de “transition”, et de multiples hésitations, j’ai finalement effacé mon vieux site web, et donc la ludothèque idéale, à laquelle je n’ai plus moi-même accès. Je sais que certains continuaient à fréquenter ce site, et que mes vieilles critiques de jeux étaient encore appréciées. Elles correspondaient de moins en moins à ce que je pense aujourd’hui, et l’ensemble du site devenait peu à peu obsolète. Le jeu continue sur mon blog.
After two years of transition, and long hesitations, I finally removed my old website. I even cannot access it anymore. I know many gamers were still reading the old reviews in my ideal game library, but they were feeling more and more obsolete, often expressing ideas which are no more mine. The game goes on on my blog.
Depuis la parution du très beau livre de Michel Pastoureau et Elisabeth Delahaye, L.es Secrets de la licorne, dans lequel ma thèse d’histoire est citée comme l’une des principales sources sur l’animal merveilleux. je reçois d’assez nombreuses demandes d’internautes cherchant à accéder au texte de mes recherches, qui était jusque là caché dans les recoins poussiéreux de mon ancien site web.
J’ai cessé les recherches historiques depuis bien longtemps, mes connaissances sur la licorne sont loin d’être à jour, et j’ai découvert dans l’ouvrage de M. Pastoureau et E. Delahaye bien des choses que j’ignorai jusque là. Quoi qu’il en soit, si vous désirez lire quelques centaines de pages de plus sur la licorne, datant d’il y a bientôt vingt ans, elles sont ici :
In the nice art and history book about “The Secrets of the Unicorn”, written by Michel Pastoureau and Elisabeth Delahaye, my PhD dissertation is cited as one of the main sources on the topic. Since this book has been published, a few weeks ago, I have received several emails by people asking me where they can fin the text of my PhD, which was hidden in a dusty corner of my old website.
I’ve not done any serious history research for quite long. My knowledge of the unicorn lore and history is not up to date, and I’ve learned many things I didn’t know in M. Pastoureau and E. Delahaye’s book. However, if you want to read a few extra hundred pages about the unicorn, now almost twenty years old, here they are – in French only.
C’est très simple. Mon ancien site web était riche, complet, ambitieux, mais me prenait trop de temps. En outre, je ne me reconnaissais plus vraiment dans certains de ses articles les plus anciens, notamment les critiques de jeux de la ludothèque idéale. J’ai donc décidé de passer à quelque chose de plus simple, plus léger, plus modeste – un simple blog.
J’y posterai les nouvelles et les annonces de mes jeux, quelques éditos d’opinion, qui ne porteront pas nécessairement, ou pas seulement, sur le jeu, mais je ne pense plus consacrer à mes nouveaux jeux des sites aussi complets que ceux dédiés à mes précédentes créations et, surtout, je n’écrirai plus, sauf cas très particulier, de critique de jeux, ne serait-ce que parce que j’ai moins l’envie de jouer à toutes les nouveautés.
Je maintiens pour l’instant l’ancien site, mais il est probable que, lorsqu’il sera devenu véritablement obsolète, je finirai par l’effacer, après avoir récupéré les quelques éditoriaux qui méritent le plus d’être sauvés, et les avoir sans doute recopiés ici.
It’s very simple. My old website was complex, rich and ambitious and was time consuming. Also, since I have changed in twenty years, since I started it in 1993, I have changed my mind on many things, and I couldn’t agree any more with some of the oldest texts I wrote, some dating back to when I launched the site in 1996. I’ve decided to change for something more standard, more simple, more modest – a bland blog.
I’ll post here news about my games, the occasional editorial about gaming, designing or publishing games, and about other more or less game related stuff, but I don’t intend to write any more game review, if only because I can’t ant more try to play all the interesting new games. I still design games, I have a few in the pipe, but I probably won’t make full dedicated websites like I did for my older games.
The old website will stay online for a while, but I’ll probably end up removing it in a few months or years, when it will have become completely obsolete, after copying and pasting here the best parts, mostly a few editorials.