Tuesday, March 01, 2005

From Deutschland With Love

A German gaming site called Brettspielwelt recreates the board-game experience in cyberspace--but don't expect Monopoly or Scrabble.
In Germany, where board games have remained far more entrenched in popular culture, a group of enthusiasts has taken a different tack. Instead of abandoning the games they love in order to play online, the enthusiasts have brought their games online with them--with astonishingly painstaking craftsmanship. What's more, they've made these online editions available for free to all comers at their Web site, Brettspielwelt, which means "board game world" in German.
"But I don't speak German," you're thinking. "How could I get around the site and communicate with others?" Well, I don't speak German either--or at least not much.
But Brettspielwelt is reasonably English-friendly. On the home page, you can click on a tiny Union Jack icon to get an English version of the key information; there's even a nice Quick Start guide written by a native English speaker--one Jeffrey M. Bakalchuck, who appears to be working on a translation of a very comprehensive tutorial. (It is a bit disappointing, however, that clicking on the Basics button brings you to an "Under Construction" page.)
Anyway, the Quick Start guide is definitely the way to get up and running fast--although fast is a relative term here. If you access the Java-based site through your browser only, be prepared for frequent waits as applets are downloaded and installed. The alternative, which I highly recommend, is simply to download the free Java desktop client, which speeds things up considerably.

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