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Thinking Out Loud

Friday, December 02, 2005

BoardGameGeek >> Taking Stock of the Site

A recent announcement by Tom Vasel over on BoardGameGeek.com, stating that he was moving his excellent Musings On... commentary and other select content exclusively to the www.boardgamenews.com site. This has sparked quite a bit of debate at BGG, with feelings ranging from betrayal to encouragement. I've had the pleasure of participating in several of Tom's Musings On... discussions, which recently focused on BGG itself as the main topic.

Here are my thoughts on the place of BGG in the gaming community.

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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.

4 Comments:

  • Sorry to disagree with one point you made, but I guess I remember things a little differently.

    BGG was going straight down the crapper 12-18 months ago. The rude users were much more abundant then, intelligent discourse was still there but it was hard to find through all the crap. As skeptical as I was at first, moderation has helped a lot, as has the forum system. Derk and Aldie pulled BGG back from the brink.

    Most rude and irritating users have gone elsewhere, and new a-holes don’t stay for long.

    By Blogger Coldfoot, at 12:19 PM  

  • There was a definite pivot point, in my mind -- the flamewars that were triggered about a year ago that all seemed to be centered around: religion, politics and using geeklists as trade forums.

    I still marvel at how downright rude and insensitive some people are, when the only possible goal is to encite anger and bitterness. Thankfully, it's fairly easy to ignore a lot of the content and posters I don't like.

    That said, the overall site maturity level seemed to take a big dip, and I went from visiting BGG once every hour of every day to once a day, then once a week, then less... Maybe I'm jaded, but I no longer feel like a member of a close-knit, friendly community -- unless I go out of my way to only interact with people on my GeekBuddy list.

    I will agree that there was a lot of filtering users had to do to get what they wanted and ignore what they didn't. And I, too, think the admins have done a good job with their level of moderation.

    By Blogger Jason Little, at 1:07 PM  

  • Lots of comments about BGG. What are your thoughts about BGN and its "role"?

    By Blogger ekted, at 5:53 PM  

  • That's a good question, Ekted. At this point, I'm not sure what to think of BGN, but I think that's a good topic for a blog post some time next week, perhaps...

    By Blogger Jason Little, at 5:21 PM  

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