So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gaming Resources – BoardGameGeek: the Doorway to my Demise

When I turned back to gaming at the beginning of 2008, I had played Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan.  I had so much fun with these games, and I had never experienced anything like them.  I wanted to find out more about these types of games.  After a quick Google search I found myself at the Wikipedia entry for Ticket to Ride.  At the bottom was an external link to the Ticket to Ride page at some place called BoardGameGeek.  Just the name made me curious.  Little did I know my life would change forever as I gained a new addiction.  This one website helped me find great games, will quickly and easily lead you to great games too!

image by BoardGameGeek
BoardGameGeek, or BGG as it is known, is both a huge and authoritative database of board and card games as well as the largest online community for these types of games.  As of today, BGG has 50,874 games in its database, including Ticket to Ride and Tic-Tac-Toe.  Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are part of the community, including the publishers and designers of many of the games.  The content is mostly user contributed.  The breadth of information and the number of people involved makes this a huge resource for the entire gaming world.  Much of the content really is, well, geeky.   However, there is great information there for the casual and family gamer too, including ratings, synopses, and more.  Membership is free, though just viewing content doesn’t require a membership.

Each game on BGG has its own webpage, and right at the very top will be the average rating for the game.  BGG members may rate a game in the database, if they choose, and this generates the average.  The scale is 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest rating.  Additionally, there is a Bayesian averaging routine which is used to rank the games.  Currently, the highest ranked game is Twilight Struggle, a game in which two players relive (or re-write) the history of the Cold War as the United States and the Soviet Union.  (I haven’t played this game, though I would love to play it.  I do know it’s a pretty involved game.)  It has an average rating of 8.31, which shows there isn’t any one game that everyone loves.  My general rule is that any game with a rating above 7.0 is a pretty safe bet, and anything below 6.0 probably isn’t worth checking out.

Below that is a synopsis of each game, which gives a little information and generally includes the theme of the game.  This is very important; your family and friends may love a game about building a zoo, but may be turned off by a game called Nuns on the Run.  This section lets you know of the game “sounds interesting”, like the inside of a book jacket.

There are other features that are also useful, particularly the forum on each game.  The forum will give answers to common rule questions, often answered by the game’s designer.  There are also strategy hints and news.  There is a huge amount of information, and it can be a bit overwhelming.  So, I will tell you the best way to quickly and easily find games for your family and friends!

When you go to the BoardGameGeek home page, you will notice a row of blocks in towards the top that list general groupings of games.  One of the blocks towards the middle is labeled “Family Games”.  Hover your mouse over that, and a short dropdown list appears.  Click on “Games” in that list, and you will be taken to the rankings of those games considered “family games”.  These are games that typically play with 3 – 5 players in two hours or less, and are generally suitable for kids over 10.  Some go as low as 8 and up.  Smaller children might find them too difficult.  Just go down the list until you find a game that sounds like a good thematic fit, and you have a great pick.  There are similar blocks for Children’s Games and Party Games if those better suit your situation.

Be warned!  This website can be addictive, and can lead to uncontrolled game purchasing and room additions.  However, it is guaranteed to show you gaming alternatives that you never even knew existed.  Best of all, it can lead to hours of fun with the people you like to be with the most! 

Keep rolling along!

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