One on BoardGameGeek

Are you a game designer or a fresh and motivated game publisher? Or, perhaps, an avid game player who spends a great many hours on BoardGameGeek checking what’s your next target, what are you going to play next week?

In both cases, you will be checking the ratings of board games. Why? Because we’re programmed this way, because we need to evaluate and self-evaluate all the time, because we’re always on a quest to find/create/devour only the best. Of course, we’re all different and personal taste matters the most, but we’re also looking for outside acknowledgement. And BoardGameGeek is offering us a complex and very popular rating system which then creates a ranking system for our favorite “pets” – the board games.

You’ve probably noticed that that even the crème de la crème, the best board games, the most appreciated, the best selling and the most popular games have a decent amount of ratings of 1.

Rating breakdown of the highest rated board game on BoardGameGeek

As a game designer and game publisher, but also as a gamer, when I see a rating of one this automatically raised a red flag, whether I like to admit that or not. As a fresh game designer, a 1 was also a personal defeat, I used to feel bad that a game with my name on it made someone so unhappy that it caused that person to take the time to log into BGG and make the effort to rate and comment a game they obviously did not like at all. After almost 5 years since my first published game, I realized that ratings of 1 usually have a lot less meaning. That’s not because people’s opinions don’t matter, but because there are a few special categories of gamers whose ratings are not the most accurate indicator of a game’s quality. Let’s take a look at some of them…

The Ignorant – he knows that he won’t like the game before buying/playing it, but he makes the effort to play just so he feels entitled to complain.

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The Idiot – he wants to play games, but he’s not capable, thus venting frustration in the digital world

The Vigilante – he’d rate the game higher, but because so many people have already wrongfully done that, he is brings upon the game the long sword of justice.

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The Uninterested – he’s does not have an opinion, he does not want to have an opinion, yet he must always have something to say.

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The Fanboy – he likes only one game and everything which is not that exact game is trash and everyone should know it.

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The Politician – he listens to the people, he knows what they want better than people themselves, he is the holder of the absolute truth and defenders of the laws of the land.

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The Troll – he… trolls.
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The Hater – he hates the game with passion and could talk for hours of how bad the game is. From time to time he plays it again just to reassure himself just how awful the game is.

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The Ultimate Hater – just like the hater, but with an additional need to make as many others as possible hate the game.

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The Frustrated – he’s here to warn you of how unfair the world is. We’re living in the world is which his favorite game is not number one. Some other weird creation is number one and he screams to the world with frustration.

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The Guy with the Weird Erotic Fantasy.

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The Absolute Weirdo – the guy who lives in a parallel universe and no sane mind can understand him.


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And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Dear gamers, game designers and publishers, don’t let yourselves bend under the weight of the word of a few crazy people. A good friend told me once that “You can’t fight crazy. Only crazy can fight crazy”. I am following his advice ever since.

I am not saying not to listen to constructive criticism, even if it comes in the most peculiar forms. Criticism leads to improvement. Simply find it in yourself to ignore the trolls and the haters because granting them attention will only attract more of them.

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2 thoughts on “One on BoardGameGeek

  1. Rankings and grades are only useful when comparing apples with apples and oranges with oranges. This is true for both what games are and what people look for.

    While many (most?) reasons to dislike a game are common for everybody and every group, the reasons to like a game as is the case for any piece of art are much more diverse. It is impossible to say which is better of Twilight Struggle, Kolejka or Exodus. Objectively, they are all sound and well polished games with a sufficiently broad satisfied target group of players. This is why reviews and comments – as you very well point out – are more relevant than the actual grades, which are only reasonably useful to screen out games too many people dislike.

    1. A very good point, I always look at reviews and other opinions I trust rather than ratings. However, that’s not everyone’s case and many people – designers and publishers especially – may take these low rating personally.

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