I’ve wanted to post info on this blog about how to use BGG in order to encourage more of you to try it. I was going to add a page but it seemed like a lot of work to condense it down, as BGG can be daunting to new users. Just now, it finally struck me to simple work on bite-size pieces and then I can edit that up later into a page(s).
What is BGG?
Boardgamegeek.com (BGG) is a huge online database and community focussed on boardgames and cardgames, which has now expanded to included role-playing games (RPGs) and video games.
On BGG, each game has its own page, which includes a lot of information, such as the designer(s), publisher(s), alternate names, versions and editions of the game, rules and translations, photos, videos, reviews and so on. You can search the site, and when you are looking at an item, you can follow links to other items. For example, if you like a game by a designer, clicking on the designer’s name will take you to the designer’s page with info about the designer, including their other games. Clicking on one of those takes you to that game page and so on.
The site is totally free to use, and you do not need to register an account in order to use it generally. But there are benefits if you register. Key to the site’s success is its community, because the whole database is user-built, and because BGG members can rate items from 0 to 10. Those ratings are averaged out, and the game’s average rating sets its place in the rankings (if you have used imdb, they do the same thing for films).
BGG members generally know what they’re on about too. A game with an average over 6/10, it’s of interest. If it’s averaging over 7 or 8/10, it’s pretty much bullet-proof. If it is rated 4/10, it’s pants.
When you register, you can add a game to your ‘collection’ on the site, post your own rating and comments on a game, mark games for your wishlist, get ideas and recommendations, trade games, buy or sell, post on the forums, ask questions, enter contests and lots more.
So you can use BGG to research games you like, find other games you might try, see what other geeks think of a game (good and bad), and get rules clarified. There are lots of modern game designers active on the site, and many publishers too. As I write, BGG has records on 58747 games, 12271 publishers, 16668 designers and more. It tends to focus on eurogames and american games, and the database thins out as you go back past the 1960s. But BGG is a wonderful site to explore and learn from. It’s very nearly flame free and very friendly to newcomers.
The only downside is how the site appears. It looks impossible to understand at first, with a very complicated front page. The site admin know it is daunting, and a lighter version is coming. BGG has an internal currency (geekgold), lots of detail and buttons and complexity. There’s so much going on, it can seem unnerving. Lots of users never register (lurkers), or take years before they finally start an account, so there’s no pressure to join. If you just want to skim the site and look stuff up, it is pretty easy to get around.
More on that next time.