A Thesis focusing on the game design of the mid-20th Century, particularly on the work and impact of Sid Sackson.

This thesis looks at the work of Sid Sackson and the impact of game design in the mid-20th Century.

Alexander Bevier
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Presentations:

Games History Symposium - The First Freelance Game Designer and the Origins of the Eurogame: Sid Sackson and the 1960s Board Game Industry, Montreal, CA.

East Coast Games Conference - Board Game Design: Then and Now, Raleigh, NC.

Research Fellowships:

Mary Valentine and Andrew Cosman Fellowship, The Strong Museum of Play, Rochester, NY.

The board game industry from the 1960s and 70s has seldom been looked upon with historical scrutiny. Most game histories look at wargames and the emergence of RPGs, but fail to discuss what board game designers were doing during this time, under the pretense that the most board games were based on TV shows. However, in the space between TV-based children’s board games, wargames and card games, a new kind of board game emerged. By looking at the the games and designers that formed this genre, the adult strategy game, we see the precursors that influenced the Eurogame and the current nondigital game industry.

Acquire by Sackson. First published by 3M in their memorable Bookshelf line.

Acquire by Sackson. First published by 3M in their memorable Bookshelf line.

In this thesis, I look at Sid Sackson’s work as an example of how board games changed during the 60s and 70s into a medium that welcomed adults and focused on strategy beyond luck. Sackson, one of the most successful and first independent designers, reveals the games industry’s development in the United States throughout the 20th Century while showing a growing community of game designers. His most successful game, Acquire, helped the industry expand beyond roll-and-move race games to a genre that focused on strategy rather than luck.

While wargames were at their peak in design and video games were starting to begin, the adult strategy game was maturing. Sackson’s contributions fostered the form and created thefoundation for the modern Eurogame. This thesis expands on the conversation of 1960s and 70s game design to emphasize the development of the board game medium into an art form that expanded its audience beyond children.