Storytelling in the Modern Board Game TP
Publisher: McFarland Books
Release Date: August 2018
Price: $39.95
Author: Marco Arnaudo
Format: 232 pgs., Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4766-6951-9
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Subtitled "Narrative Trends from the Late 1960s to Today," this is a somewhat dry study of the development of story-based board games.  The dryness comes largely from the academic terminology often used, such as a somewhat uncommon take on a very uncommon word, which is used perhaps a bit too often.

The good news is that the book has a very thorough analysis of the development of games, beginning a few years before Dungeons & Dragons turned the world of gaming upside down.  By studying a combination of board games, miniatures games and role-playing games in the context of the study, the book covers a lot of ground, and points out why several design concepts that were once heavily opposed have become selling points.

The book will be good for starting arguments about cause and effect in terms of why a game is marketable, and also about the author’s somewhat narrowed definition of what constitutes storytelling in a board game, but the bibliography and notes are spectacular.

The price is high, but that is typical of the McFarland academic studies of popular culture.  The author, a professor at Indiana University and also an occasional designer of games, has an interesting background for the book.

The book is written for adults interested in the history of board games, although older teens might find it interesting.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.