I declined a game of Cranium yesterday.
We’d just been for a pub lunch, so I was in a fairly soporific mood anyway, but the truth is that most board games just don’t float my boat.
They’re too convoluted, too complicated.
You spend half the game trying to work out how it actually works, which dice to roll at each stage, what the 27 different colours represent and how many cards you need to break free from the “Witch’s Spell” that you get to the end feeling like you’ve actually failed in your primary goal: to enjoy yourself.
My brother in law has a particular penchant for hugely complicated games – I’ll never get the time back I “invested” in Killer Bunnies; a vast mess of a game that we constantly had to check the rules during and never actually finished, even after three hours.
It’s no accident that the most successful board games of all time aren’t the ones with 38 different types of cards and numerous oddly shaped dice.
You might say Monopoly’s complicated (you wouldn’t if you were comparing it to Killer Bunnies), but the other big hitters are the usual suspects: Chess, Checkers, Scrabble and Battleship.
Sure, these games are nuanced and have hidden depths, but on the face of it, they’re relatively easy to pick up and play, and as such they get picked up and played very regularly.
Board games are not the only thing that gets overcomplicated – it happens in marketing too.
Over the last few years, there’s been an increase in people feeling like they need to create 43-step “funnels”, with their prospects pinging through their CRM like a ball in a pinball machine.
There’s nothing wrong with these funnels in theory, but in practice most businesses:
a) Don’t drive enough of the right traffic to warrant that level of engineering
b) Will start the process of building that sort of strategy into their business and then get bored or disillusioned
c) Simply don’t need it
It was Confucius who said, “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” and the same is true with marketing.
For most businesses, it really is as simple as building a big audience of the right people, adding serious value to their lives and then making your product available.
Aim to build Scrabble, not Killer Bunnies.