This week on Board Meeting, special guests Kristine and Kelsey joined Dave, Janelle and I to play the movie-themed card games Cinephile (designed by Cory Everett and illustrated by Steve Isaacs) and Double Feature (designed/illustrated by John Kovalic) to celebrate the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony.
As a cinephile myself, these games appeal to me for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they allow me to make use of the useless cinematic knowledge/trivia that I have amassed over the last three or so decades. While I am drawn to the beautiful (if somewhat difficult to see, as Kristine pointed out) minimalist artwork of Cinephile and the simple but colorful aesthetic of Double Feature, I find myself repeatedly returning to both games due to how they foster a deeper connection to my primary fandom by generating an affective link to cinema and cinema culture (which can sometimes feel a bit intangible, especially as we move further away from the dominance of physical film).
At the same time, they also provide an opportunity to tap into a well of collective knowledge and to forge bonds with other players, as I believe we demonstrated with our play-through on Thursday. This idea became most evident for me while playing the first variation on Cinephile, “Filmography,” which involves naming more films by one actor than your opponents. Dave and Janelle assumed that I would dominate the game due to my extensive film knowledge, at least when compared to their own, but they were able to draw on the collective knowledge of those in chat and thereby better compete. This changed the experience from an individual to a communal experience.
Similarly, while playing the variation known as “Head On” (players must correctly guess more actors or films in 60 seconds than their opponents), we once again drew on a collective well of knowledge within the group that was physically present in the room to foster a sense of play and good-natured competition. In this version of the game, players draw a card and shows it to the other players without looking at it. Meanwhile, the other players shout out clues and try to help the first person guess the name of the actor or the title of the movie on the card. At this point in our play through, we were able to draw on different types of knowledge, including our understanding of each other, to help one another guess the names of actors or titles of films. For instance, at one point I drew the “Kurt Russell” card, and Dave successfully helped me guess the actor by using the clue “He appears in our favorite board game!” (referring to The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31). Here, Dave employed a different set of knowledge based on our mutual love of another game. Other great clues involved using knowledge of things in the world (as when we got Janelle to guess the title of the film Volver by drawing a link to the type of gun known as a revolver). This served to minimize the competitive aspect of the game while fostering a sense of collective joy.
Overall, the play through increased my love of both games, even as the odds were often stacked against me as the other players collaborated with chat and one another. The connectivity with those at the table and those in chat helped make the game more fun and provided me with lots of links between my primary fandom (cinema) and other areas of knowledge.
- As mentioned, Cinephile features minimalist artwork that evokes the image of an actor or the memory of a film rather than provide screenshots or more detailed artwork that seeks to recreate the actor’s features or an image from the movie. How does the game generate such an affective link to cinema? Does it rely solely on the player’s existing knowledge of cinema, or is there some other aspect that might foster this connection?
- In some ways, a game like Double Feature requires players to possess an extensive amount of knowledge about a narrow topic. Does such a game alienate those who have not cultivated this sort of extensive knowledge? Conversely, does it create more connection through the communal activities fostered by the game play, as players of all knowledge levels come together to compete and negotiate ways of leveling the player field?
- Both games rely heavily on intertextuality (i.e. the relationship between texts) and a deep knowledge of movies. This focus on cinema could potentially limit the appeal for players not especially interested in cinema, but our play through demonstrated that this does not seem to be an issue. Why do you think that is? What is it about this game that allows those who don’t fall into the “movie nerd” category to find enjoyment in the game play?
- Both games are not too far removed from a trivia game, as they each ask users to draw on prior knowledge of a narrow area of expertise. Why are trivia games so appealing? What is it about this genre that proves so enduring?