There's a surprisingly good article about gaming in Wired Magazine. The article focuses on the groundbreaking, Settlers of Catan, but also discusses the broader phenomenon of Euro Games.
Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre
Because of this enthusiasm, board game design has become high art—and big business—in Germany. Any game aficionado will tell you that the best-designed titles in the world come from this country. In fact, the phrase German-style game is now shorthand for a breed of tight, well-designed games that resemble Monopoly the way a Porsche 911 resembles a Chevy Cobalt.The article gets all the facts right and is really quite an excellent introduction into "German-style games", a.k.a. Euros. The one problem . . . it's only about 15 years too late. I know that Euros are just now coming into wider acceptance in the United States and it's still a niche market, but I can't help but be amused that this article is discussing events that happened in the early nineties and they've only now noticed.
Instead of direct conflict, German-style games tend to let players win without having to undercut or destroy their friends. This keeps the game fun, even for those who eventually fall behind. Designed with busy parents in mind, German games also tend to be fast, requiring anywhere from 15 minutes to a little more than an hour to complete. They are balanced, preventing one person from running away with the game while the others painfully play out their eventual defeat. And the best ones stay fresh and interesting game after game.
In any event, check it out. And the next time one of your family or friends asks you about your hobby, e-mail them the link.