That Name On The Box

13 game designers signed this coaster in 1983, committing to having their names printed on the box covers for their games.

Have you ever sorted a big collection? Most likely every nerd has at one point with their chosen media. We’re obviously doing it here, and I quickly realized that with board games it’s very different than it has been with all of my other collections.

My music (I am “I-owned-CD’s” old) was always sorted alphabetically by band, not album title. I might try and mess around with genre too, but I always went back to the tried and true alphabet by artist. Same with my books, alphabetical by author, not the title of the book, though in that case the genre classifications tend to hold out. These board games I’m putting on the shelves though, I admit, it’s alphabetical by title, not by creator.

Doing it this way makes it easier for all of us to find a game and deliver it. Looking for The Grizzled? It’s right there, under G (if you put it under T I’m moving it). But I don’t feel great about this. I know when I put that box on the shelf I’m ignoring maybe the most important person in this whole process, the one who designed the game in the first place.

Do you also follow r/boardgames on Reddit? I just saw a post there about a meeting on April 2, 1988 at a pub near Nuremberg International Toy fair where 13 game designers signed a proclamation on the back of a coaster with the demand, "None of us gives a game to a company if our name is not written on the box cover!"

Now it pretty common to see a designer’s name on the box, and if you follow a designer through their games, you’ll see them shuffle their earlier ideas, mechanics, and themes into new experiments in their later games. There’s a progression that’s wonderful to experience, just like with storytellers and musicians, whose original ideas can also be seen pondered and sculpted in their later work.

I hadn’t thought of it when we first started to talk about making this library, but trying to play all the games from a particular designer through their career is a tough thing to do on your own. If you want to see how Carl Chudyk transformed the ideas of Glory to Rome into Innovation and then into Red 7 and Monttainai, it would cost you a few hundred bucks, and at least several hours scouring eBay and the like. Being able to easily follow a designer’s path is one of the things I’m most looking forward to when we’ve got this collection all together. Even if we do sort the games by title.