BoardGameGeek >> Taking Stock of the Site
Here are my thoughts on the place of BGG in the gaming community.
It's hard for me to have anything but glowing remarks for BGG, as it has dramatically changed the way I game -- and all for the better.
First and foremost, it is the ultimate game information tool, from the database entries to reviews, user comments, session reports and user submitted player aids. I would go so far as to say that a good quarterof my 500+ game collection is directly attributable to the information and access BGG provides. In fact, I would never even have heard of, let alone gotten the opportunity to play/purchase gems like die Macher, El Grande, Um Reifenbreite, Hansa, Santiago or Wallenstein were it not for the information *and* insights available on BGG.
Secondly, the BGG community (warts and all) has become my "workplace" of sorts. As a guy who works from home, I don't have a convenient office water cooler to stand around and chit chat with co-workers. For the last three or four years, BGG has been my main social outlet during the long work days. It's great to be able to hop online and check out a review of a new game, read over a GeekList, or get involved in an interesting forum topic.
Just like a real job, sometimes you're stuck working with people you don't like. In this case, irritating, rude or inflammatory posts and users. So I do my best to ignore them and focus on those I like being around. A ridiculously small price to pay for what I get out of it.
Even more importantly, BGG has led to finding gaming friends. Over the last year alone, I've met a dozen people via BGG whom I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Some are casual gaming acquaintances, some I see regularly, others I can get some PBEM gaming in with...
* Is BGG trying to do too much? Perhaps, but if what they do garners more interest and attention for my favorite hobby, it's hard to see itas a bad thing... Even bad press, as they say, is good press. There will always be content, comments and contributors I disagree with or that come across as elitist and caustic. Thankfully that sort of content is fairly easy to avoid or bypass.
* Should BGG really come out with their own award? I don't see how it can be a bad thing. If it's embraced, great! BGG's clout is recognized and more people come to use and interact with this community. If it fails miserably, there's no tangible negative impact that I can imagine. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
* Has BGG become too commercial? Perhaps, but who am I to complain? BGG is a phenomenal free resource... Many other sites charge subscription fees yet offer only a fraction of the content available on BGG. I can't blame Derk & Aldie for trying to make money on their creation.
All that said, I do think there has been a dramatic shift in the general attitude on BGG within the last 12-18 months. There's no longer the sense of the small, diehard group of enthusiasts, glad to stumble into the site that there once was. Topics and comments are more vitriolic. There seems to be less adherence to the "unwritten rules" of online conduct as wave after wave of anonymous users surge into BGG and look to apply the same attitudes and behavior that they've used elsewhere.