Yes, the CIA has board games. Because sometimes people in government have a rush of oxygen to the brain. I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are.
[CIA Senior Collection Analyst David] Clopper recalls one day in 2008 when his “boss’s boss” called him into a meeting and asked him to develop new internal training exercises. Normally, these exercises test whether recent lessons and seminars have been absorbed by officers, and they usually involve “teams, flip charts, and briefings,” Clopper says. “Incredibly boring.” But Clopper had now been at the CIA long enough to reshape its exercises, his boss said, and he got excited: “I’m a gamer. I enjoy games, video games, tabletop games. Could we bring games into learning?”
He used SXSW to present three board games made for his training exercises over the span of a four-year period, one of which is still in development. The first is the one we got the most hands-on time with during SXSW: Collection. If that dry-as-a-desert name isn’t a good indicator, rest assured—this is not a game meant for retail or for the highest ratings at BoardGameGeek.
…Collection is apparently designed to be vicious to players, particularly ones that don’t work well with others. I suspect that this will make it all the more alluring to hardcore board game players, and those folks are pretty hardcore. I don’t know whether the CIA would make back development costs, but they’d be able to recoup expenses for a print run if they crowdfunded it. Seriously, I’m a taxpayer and I neither mind them spending my tax dollars and creating interesting and useful training tools in game form, nor in generating revenue on them later. Every little bit helps, and Clopper could probably use the production credit.