Demos and Co-ops

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Last Sunday was Dragon Lair’s big Demo Extravaganza and I stopped by for a few hours to meet some fans and run a few demo games. It’s always fun to meet new players, but what I found really interesting was that most of the games customers wanted to play were cooperative.

There were several tables set up to run demos and they were almost always full. I saw Pandemic, Castle Ravenloft, and the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill all being played while I was there. I was happily neck deep in Castle Panic the whole time, since it never came off the table. Many games were played, with either Odin (of Laircast fame!) or me helping get new players up and running. The Monsters were in a particularly feisty mood since we had a few victories, but quite a few castles were smashed to rubble that day.

Now that’s not to say that there weren’t any competitive games played (I’m looking at you Zombie Dice) but it was definitely tipped in favor of co-ops. 

It’s rather humbling to think that we’re considered to be at the front of this latest wave of cooperative games that still seems to be capturing people’s imaginations. There are a lot more choices in cooperative games out there now than there were a few years ago and I think it’s safe to say that this style of gameplay is more than just a fad. I think there’s something almost primal about working with your fellow players rather than against them that appeals to people and feels a little refreshing.

I always laugh when people ask me if we planned Castle Panic to “ride the wave of co-ops” because the answer is “nobody told us there was a wave coming.” We made our game work the way it does because it was really fun and it just happened to come out when it did. I sometimes wonder if there’s some kind of collective unconsciousness or just plain random luck at work in these situations. You can see coincidences all around and it’s easy to think it’s a pattern or some kind of plan (Armageddon and Deep Impact anyone?) But I never got a secret memo telling me “Let’s all publish co-op games now, ready? GO!”

Maybe I’m just not on the right mailing lists.

-J

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