The death of Klaus Teuber, creator of popular board game Catan, marked the passing of a board game giant.
- The death of Klaus Teuber, creator of popular board game Catan, marked the passing of a board game giant.
- The German-born dental technician-turned-game designer invented the game, originally called Settlers of Catan, in 1995 while managing a dental lab.
- That same year Catan won one of board gaming’s most prestigious awards, the German Spiel des Jahres.
In interviews, Teuber said he started creating games in the 1980s to help deal with the stress of his dental career. “I developed games to escape,” he said. “This was my own world I created.” The Settlers of Catan — renamed Catan in 2015 — wasn’t really Teuber’s own world, it was a playable version of the American dream.
- As historian Lorenzo Veracini says, “the Settlers of Catan is really about settler colonialism.” The success of Catan also codified a certain kind of game play that has similarly proliferated worldwide, one that’s invested in the specific historical, economic and political factors of settler colonialism.
- The Settlers of Catan was not the first time a board game touched on colonial or imperialist discourses.
- However, because players in Catan explicitly take on the roles of settlers, this particular board game’s engagement in the rhetoric of settler colonialism set new precedents.
- In these games, Indigenous identity, history, culture and sovereignty emerge as essential elements of world-building and game mechanics.
- Board game designer and Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Greg Loring-Albright has shown with First Nations of Catan that it is possible to modify and decolonize gameplay by drawing attention to issues of Indigenous sovereignty.
- Another excellent example of this is Sínulkhay and Ladders by Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee, a Squamish decolonizing facilitator, creative director and Indigenous changemaker.
Biz Nijdam does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.