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LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: ‘Board games inspired my business strategy’

Settlers of Catan is part of a group of so-called “German-style board games” which reward strategy rather than luck and are less centred on themes of conflict than many US board games. Devised in 1995 by designer Klaus Teuber, it has also been reimagined as a very popular app. Set on a fictional island in Viking times, the aim is to collect and trade commodity cards (such as wool, grain and brick), before exchanging them for plastic roads and settlements to occupy the board. Points are awarded for things like having the longest road, and the first player to reach 10 points wins.

He says he prefers games to that other great standby of American males, hanging out watching sports. “People are bad about social stuff. They get uncomfortable in silence. One of the benefits of a board game is it replaces the silence, it keeps the momentum of the conversation going.”

Discussing books he has read recently, he enthuses about Nonzero by Robert Wright — “one of my favourite intellectual authors. Basically, his theory is you have cultural evolution because you have a preference for non-zero sum games.” As society evolves, there are more and more interactions where both sides come out a winner.
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