If there is one logical fallacy that is massively over-relied on by those purporting to represent the ‘scientific community’ it is ‘the fallacy fallacy’. This logical fallacy is the one that argues that because something is poorly argued then it must actually be a fallacy. You may have noticed when looking at Himalayan Salt lamps that there are a rash of fairly outlandishly-worded claims about what these salt lamps may or may not be capable of. Depending on where the manufacturer/salesperson is based, these claims may in the first instance simply have been poorly translated into English.
That does not necessarily mean that they are a load of bunkum. I recently read an article by someone who was expressing a personal preference for not using Pink Himalayan Salt on her food. Unfortunately, although the writer of this article was, I believe, a medical doctor, she was not a Doctor of Philosophy or even an undergraduate in formal logic.
Himalayan Salt is ‘As Mother Nature Intended’
She began by introducing the idea that Himalayan Salt contains 84 trace elements. She was quoting a site of someone who was selling Himalayan Salt products. Naturally, the site’s owner was doing his best to suggest that his product was worth buying.
However, his claim that this salt is ‘just as mother nature intended’ was somewhat objectionable to the good lady doctor, mostly apparently on the grounds that ‘he was a salesman’. That’s an ad hominem in case you didn’t know, and it’s a logical fallacy.
It was mixed in with the fallacy fallacy since she didn’t really see how the phrase ‘as mother nature intended’ was supposed to prove anything.
She’s right, of course, but failed to point out that she herself could be wrong, and there could be immense benefits to consuming Himalayan Salt, for all she knew.
Himalayan Rock Salt in Lamps
The best part about Himalayan Salt lamps is the fact that they look so beautiful in any room of your home. This aesthetic element renders the question of whether the amount of negative ions released from these lamps is sufficient to affect our health, or whether negative ions really are as wonderful as everyone seems to think. It’s irrelevant if it looks good.
The psychological effect of having a nicely appointed and beautifully lit home is undoubtedly very great. Environmental psychology is a genuine thing, and more and more studies are showing, without a shadow of a doubt, that a person’s surroundings can have a simply vast effect on their psychological well-being.
As it happens, I personally think that there may be something in the idea that there are 84 trace minerals in Himalayan Salt. I happen to believe, apparently like our salesman mentioned above, that there is some truth in the idea that ‘Mother Nature’ may actually intend certain things, and that dried salt from Primordial oceans, where life apparently began, may well have ingredients in there that are as essential to the function of life then as they are now. Just my opinion mind, but it’s my own opinion.
Meet the Designer: Elad Goldsteen
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Elad Goldsteen, I am the lead game designer and publisher at Golden Egg Games.
Where are you from?
I live with my family in Israel.
What do you do for a living?
Game design and publishing at Golden Egg Games, LLC.
How long have you been interested in board gaming?
I think from my childhood. I always preferred a cool board game over any other family activity.
What are your favorite board games?
Though question, it usually changes every year or so. I will try to be objective and pick other designer’s games. My top games, for now, are Seasons, Libertallia, Troyes and The Palaces of Carrara.
When did you decide to become a board game designer? What was the reason you wanted to become one?
I was always intrigued by designing my own games and writing my own rules. I made my first game when I was 8 years old and kept on inventing game mechanics as a hobby. Since 2006 my passion for board games started to rise again and I started to design modern board and card games. I never thought about a reason why to design your own games, I guess I just get enormous satisfaction seeing other players having fun playing my games. What is your favorite recent released game? “City Council”
What game are you really looking forward to?
I have two new games that I think will innovate the Euro game market and I have two new longer term projects that might be published in 2015.
What does it take to design a good board game?
I think that a lot of the good game designs out there were conceived in a 5-minute brilliant vision, that can take over a year to mature and become a solid, fun game. You might need to change, cut, detract, pull and rewrite every mechanic at least twice before play-testing it and seeing it break apart… A tough process indeed.
How long does it take to design a board game from idea to finished product?
I think that some simple ideas can mature to a game in a year or so. Some more complex games may take 2-3 years of a difficult process in order to become a fun and enjoyable game.
Do you think everyone is able to design a board game?
I want to believe that’s true. At least your own home-brew games that you would love to play with your kids and family – for sure.
Do you have any suggestions for those who are willing to design their own game?
If you are planning to design a game that you wish to publish to the world, I would suggest to start with your own gaming group and pitch the game to them. Then start play-testing it and finally, use the internet as a good place to find print-and-play testers – they can give you a world of solutions and great feedback.
Is there a difference between gamers from different countries? For example, is there a difference between American and European gamers?
Of course! There is a core culture-based difference. American style games can use tons of luck factors and must have a thrilling theme. The Euro gamer may be attracted to the fine game mechanics and the simplicity of the game flow rather than the thematic flavor.
Do you have a target audience in mind when designing a game?
I do now. I have some game designs that I didn’t like at first but now I think I found each one a target audience, and strive on that. Your games Where did you get your inspiration for your games? I can’t think of a single source, but I do think that my family and my trouble sleeping helped my state of mind a lot. Long quiet nights make your mind a nurturing ground for ideas to prosper.
Why did you choose dogs for your art for Alliances?
I love dogs! And I wanted to give the game a more thematic feel, like a parallel world where dogs are the ruling power and they fight over world domination. The second reason is that I always admired the “poker playing dogs” image and thought that some trick-taking classics should also have their “dog versions”. I have also a third reason: when we thought about art for the concept of world domination, we did not want to get into any stereotypes, so we chose to represent the super power nations with their corresponding breed – the EU and Germany represented by the German Shepard, the US represented by the Jack Russell Terrier, etc.
What can we expect from the expansion for Fallen City of Karez? Do you plan other expansions?
We have 3 new mini expansions for Karez in production. They will add a 6th player option, new core mechanics and more of everything (new buildings, adventures, encounters, equipment and heroes).
What can we expect from the revised rules of Fallen City of Karez?
We went over every FAQ entry we got and tried to solve it within the core rules. We also wanted to streamline some of the mechanics so the game will flow better and it might end a lot faster.
What can we expect from Golden Egg Games in the future?
A lot. We will publish 3-4 new games in 2014, at least one of them by another designer, as I decided to focus more on publication and production. We will have a 2-player game, 2 Euro style games and (hopefully) a financial game.
Are you working on a new game right now? Can we expect a new game soon?
I am working on 3 new designs at the moment. I hope that 2 of them will grow and mature in time for 2014.
Are there any exclusive sneak previews you are willing to share with Board and Games and its customers?
I can say that we will publish a new game called “Athlas” (the name may change). It is a unique fantasy 2-player game with tons of cool bits and amazing artwork by Antonis Papantoniou.
Do you work with an alfa group of testers? How do you balance a game? How do you make sure some strategies don’t have advantages above others?
I usually play test with a lot of different groups and we also have some foreign blind tests as well. My own desire when I play test is to explore weird strategies that I thought might break the game. Usually, I succeed, and most of my play testers hate me for it as they think I am cheating!
What do you think of Kickstarter as a platform to create new board games?
I think that for now, Kickstarter is not a good place to start with. The competition is tough and we barely raise enough funds to finish a game we already invested a lot of private funds in. There will always be some cool success stories, but most of the time the creators do not take into account a lot of variables that at the end cause them to lose money and create a mediocre game.
What did you learn about your campaigns?
That there are some amazing people out there. The support and love are intoxicating. We were overwhelmed on our first project and fell in love with our backers so we actually offered too many free rewards, which took us almost a year to complete. We have learned a lot these past two years and now we ask for the right amount of funds so we can fulfill the rewards with haste and with no delays.
Did you get a lot of feedback from players? How important is this to you as a game designer?
The games on KS were already play tested, edited and are usually final. The things I usually learn are the desired expansions and some feedback on the quality of the components, that we usually do not get from our distributor.
Do you incorporate feedback from users in your game? How do you do that?
We always learn from one game to another. We try to predict where the rules might be rough and try to solve these issues ahead of time.
What’s your opinion on bigger publishers as Iello and Queen Games who also come to Kickstarter?
I think that we are living in a free market – if backers love their games and are willing to pay a year in advance – who am I to judge them. I know for a fact that Queen games used KS to publish games that they did not have the funds to publish or could not risk publishing due to high production costs. If they are using KS to publish sub-par games, I think they should not publish them at all, and not try to fund them anyway at the cost of their reputation. General Board games have always been about bringing family and friends together and enjoying a game together.
What’s your opinion of digitalizing board games for PC and tablets? (for example Ticket to Ride, Smallworld, Talisman, …)
In general, I do not see the point in playing a digital version if I can just play the game with my friends or family. I only love to play Dominion on a digital version – as I hate to shuffle cards all the time. Some people don’t want to play board games because it takes too long or the rules are too hard.
How would you convince them to enjoy board games?
First, try to find a good teacher! I see a lot of new walk-through videos that can explain the game faster and more effectively. But you cannot convince a player to have fun – either they like it or not, you can only offer your best game and your companionship.
Have you ever been in Belgium? What’s the thing you absolutely would want to do when visiting Belgium?
I think I might have traveled through Belgium in the past. My printers – Cartamundi – always tell me that Belgium is best known for their great games and chocolate. I think that Belgium is an amazingly beautiful country, and my family and I will definitely strive to visit it. Great cities, great chocolate, and beer are always intriguing.
Many thanks for the interview and the in-depth questions.
To read some great reviews of two player games go to Board Games 4 Two.
The playing of games is pretty fundamental to the human condition, whichever way you look at it. Children naturally and spontaneously design games when they are left to their own devices. It is fascinating how they develop quite complex rule-systems for a given game, which generally take in all aspects of their playing environment. These rule-systems are completely fluid, particularly as the game is starting up, with each person declaring their wants and needs from the game based on the character they will be playing for the course of the game. Once the rules are in place, play begins. Anyone who has seen children doing this kind of thing, or remembers it from childhood, knows that hours can pass quite quickly, with hunger and tiredness easily ignored whilst the game lasts.
Another quite remarkable thing about these spontaneous outbreaks of what adults might term LARP (Live Action Role Play), is that once the game is over with those rule systems are completely forgotten. I have on particular memory of playing a made up game loosely based on “Deathtrap Dungeon” by Ian Livingstone. We played for hours – a group of about five or six of us. This must have been nearly thirty years ago, but every one of those people I’ve spoken to years later still remembers the game. Well, should I say, we all remember playing it, and that it was amazing, but none of us has any clue as to what the content of the game actually was.
Games utilise what is arguably humanity’s greatest gift, the imagination. There are multiple levels to this imagining, from the character you are playing to the things that the elements of your environment come to represent. When a group of people get it, and really get into it, the experience is really like no other. The closest literal representation of the process would be like the Holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the Imaginarium of Community. Actually, now I come to think of it, jamming with excellent musicians who are on a similar wavelength can achieve the same kind of effect.
The fact that there is a group of you somehow strengthens the fantasy of the game, as if our brains are somehow designed to work together in series like this, so that everybody feels the benefit of an experience where multiple imaginations are all focussed on the same thing. Micky Hart from the Grateful Dead calls it “sacred dimension territory” and there are echoes here of something Jesus says about more than one person gathering together in his name – he is there. As if Jesus was hoping to somehow represent or personify whatever it is that happens when several people start using their brains for a common goal.
Those who have played role-playing games into adulthood, including the game of being in a band, will know that there are things that happen in jams or games that defy logical explanation. For example, in RPGs people often report that they ‘see’ what another character is going to do before they actually vocalise the intent. I know that there have been times when I have been playing music when I have made what felt like an unexpected change, sometime in a way that feels like an accident to me, only to be amazed, truly amazed, when the whole band seems to make the change simultaneously. It’s magic, pure and simple.
Teatro Remigio is all about playing games by the firelight. Or in our case, the salt light as we are hanging and chillin’ in the Himalayas – home of the Himalayan salt lamp. It’s a beautiful thing, hanging out with your buddies and playing. There really aren’t many activities in this life that beat that. (OK we can definitely think of one!) So we have got lots of advice and tips to give about this whole hanging out and playing thing. For one, you need to have a good supply of delicious food and drink. Well, you don’t truthfully need these but they sure make things even better. Other than that you need your game, your buddies and a light to play by as the sun goes down. Hang with us here and find out more about the delights of gaming.