I thought of this gamer generation concept recently when Ivan came to play. He became a boardgame hobbyist in 2010. As we browsed my game shelves, there were quite many games which he had not tried before, many of which I took for granted as being evergreens and assumed everyone should have played them. Then I realised I am an old fart, and many evergreens in my mind are simply old games in others' eyes. I entered the hobby in 2004. I consider myself the class of 2004. The kind of games I started with are quite different from what a 2010-er started with. Even within the 2004 batch of gamers the games we started off with can be very different, but at least they came from the same period, and there would be overlaps. The games I played most in my early years include Carcassonne, Ra, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, Ticket To Ride, Lost Cities and Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.
Gamers from different batches would experience the hobby differently, because the industry does change over time. E.g. in the 1990's there were much fewer heavy Eurogames than nowadays. We also go through different stages of our boardgamer life cycles with different games. I think after some years in the hobby, people generally settle down to one or two particular types of games. Most people I play with are Eurogamers and they usually play medium to heavy Eurogames. Some people become wargamers. Some people prefer lighter games. Some people like Ameritrash games. There are card game players and CCG players. There are miniature players, RPG players. They may be from different generations. They have probably taken different paths (as in the games played) to reach the same destinations. It is interesting to see the paths that people have taken. Everyone has a personal story.
My first five years or so were mostly spent playing medium weight games, with some heavier games mixed in. Then there came a period when I played a lot of Race for the Galaxy, Agricola and Through the Ages, mostly with my wife. These three games are representative of the years 2008 - 2010 for me. Since then, although there were many games which I liked, I have not played any single game as heavily as I had played these, or the handful of games that I played a lot of in my early years. Well, one exception is Ascension (my LRT game, i.e. subway game / train game / bus game), which I only play on my phone and don't even own a physical copy. I still play it almost every day now, but I tend not to think of it as representative of the boardgames I play because I don't play it on game nights.
Through the Ages
I am quite amazed with people who still keep up with buying and playing many new games after more than 10 years in the hobby, e.g. those who do extensive research prior to the Essen game fair and buy 40 or more games at the fair. They are constantly at the forefront of boardgaming. I bought many games in my first few years of gaming. After building up a sizeable collection, my purchases gradually wound down. There are still new and interesting games, so I never quite stopped buying. Most of my gamer friends buy games too, so there are many games I still get to play even if I don't buy them.
Which batch are you from and what are the top 5 or 10 games that define your first foray into the hobby?