Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

That escalated quickly…

I have never been all that satisfied with the quality of the discussion at places like Board Game Geek. I mean, does every Geek List need a Busen Memo entry? And the only thing more irritating than the guy posting pictures of his east European girlfriend with a couple hundred board games has got to be the unctuous remarks those sorts of pictures seem to induce. Seriously, y’all….

(But that girl was hot, though. Just sayin’.)

There’s some sort of twisted culture that’s emerged there. And it gets the exact things wrong that I would want most from a gaming oriented site.

  1. Role-playing games are treated as a separate subject when, in my mind, that has never been the case.
  2. Discussion trends towards OCD level obsessions with the game components and how to organize them into a box. The signature contribution to game design that this “community” has generated is the idea of using petri dishes to store your cubes for Pandemic. Good one, guys.
  3. The archetypal board game geek user owns a hundred games. He’s played less than half them. Of those that he has played, most of them don’t come out for more than five game sessions. Games that actually hold up under hundreds plays are not held in esteem there.
  4. They largely treat the games hobby as if it came into existence about ten years ago. A lot of the users come off as having a chip on their shoulder when it comes to this– as if the hobbyists that were playing games decades before them have to suddenly prove themselves.
  5. They have lots of running jokes, but not much in the way of an actual sense of humor.

So, while the Board Game Geek does have its uses, I have the same beef with it that I do the way journalists cover the hobby. With the exception of about two articles this year, they do nothing to capture what gaming is really like.

Maybe I’m oversensitive. Maybe I’m overstating the case. Maybe everyone else is fine with holding their noses and putting up with it. My point is, if you’re not one of the latter type you don’t have to. The gaming discussion on Google+ is way better and has a much higher signal to noise ratio. If you are keen on games and feel lukewarm about hanging with the folks over at Board Game Geek, you have an alternative.

Given how I feel about it, you can imagine that I have no desire whatsoever to put up with the usual BGG shenanigans. But when a couple of my reviews went up over there, I was in no mood to play along. I figured… wouldn’t it be more fun to absolutely pillory everything I hate about the Geek in an epic level rant?

Now… like everything else I do lately, the thing that the post was ostensibly about was not what the post was really about. Making fun of the typical BGG user was the just how it got framed. The point was to get into some of the finer points of gamer psychology. People that only play euro games really are of a different stripe than the hobbyists that preceded them. I really wanted to get at the heart of that….

Ah well, not everybody got it. Especially the two guys I was raking over the coals. I have to say, though, I have nothing against them personally. It’s the culture I want to beat up on and they are useful exemplars of it. Still, I was surprised at how low one of them stooped in response:


The guy says I wrote a “hate article” and that I want “to call people stupid, schizophrenic, or make long winded attacks on people’s character.” I don’t think I called this guy names. The bit about schizophrenia was directed at how he argued, not at his actual psychology. And while I will cop to mercilessly ridiculing his position, I never once went personal or attacked his character. But wow, did he ever show me how to do that!

(If you ever wondered why people are so touchy on BGG, it’s because some of the users there identify so closely with euro games, they take every criticism of that type of game as a personal attack.)

Honestly, I just wanted to show his ilk what it’s like for the average gamer to go onto the Board Game Geek site. I wanted him to bask in that feeling of second class citizen status that BGG seems to confer on people that are not hard core euro gamers neck deep in the cult of the new. Given that it’s pretty clear that the guy’s head looked like his avatar after he read my post, I think it’s pretty safe to declare… mission accomplished!

Thank you, sir, for giving me the satisfaction.


14 responses to “That escalated quickly…

  1. Cirsova December 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Dang. I sometimes forget that BGG is also a ‘community’. I’ve mostly just used it as a board game version of Eurogames are nice with a limited gametime (if you’ve got maybe an hour to play something), but between the Eurogames I’ve played and something quick and absolutely brutal, like King of Tokyo, I find myself enjoying the latter more every time. Sure, I like Castles of Burgundy, but once I max out my naval forces, I’d really like to be able to sail over and kill the other guys sheep (F-ing cumulative sheep bonuses! D:< )

    I just hate how few people have the will & commitment to learn or teach real wargames.

    • jeffro December 23, 2014 at 10:10 am

      My theory on wargaming is that it is unfortunately a boomer phenomenon. When this last big bunch of grognards passes, there won’t be a whole lot of people to replace them.

      • Cirsova December 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

        Damn shame that the age of public Kriegspiel barely lasted over a hundred years. Having grown up during the gold age of computer wargaming, I feel about RTS the way you feel about eurogames. Every time I’m in GameXchange, I see the PS1 port of Panzer General calling to me: “Get me! Play me! Even though you know I’ll probably be a disappointing port and your girlfriend will never play me with you, you’ll never have a computer again that will run the original without hours of tweaks and modifications!”

        I had the sad realization the other day back when I was playing 1776 with my dad that once he was gone, I was probably never going to have anyone to play those kinds of board games again.

      • Carl December 23, 2014 at 10:41 am

        I’m not sure about that. I’ve noticed in the last few years that the widespread interest in more casual boardgaming is also creating a subset of players who end up craving more complex and/or historical games. Add to that the market of players like Cirsova, who played with their boomer parents, and I think there may be hope for the furture.

        It won’t necessarily look like the past. Things always change, but perhaps not so drastically.

  2. Cirsova December 23, 2014 at 10:43 am

    In fairness, having read the thread, everybody there besides Lowecore and Philtrees seems to think that Lowecore and Philtrees are idiots.

    • jeffro December 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Even Philtrees is distancing himself from Lowecore. Give the guy some credit…! :D

    • jeffro December 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Oh good grief. The dude carries on about my lack of credibility. I finally cave and provide some evidence that I’d actually played Twilight. At the same time, another guy weighs in on every single game he’d mentioned.

      Then he picks one phrase out of all of that to dismiss everything!

      NOw I see with whom I am talking with I can happily unsubscribe [smiley face]

      There you go. Anyone that attacks you with a variant of “DISQUALIFY” is not arguing in good faith. My initial instincts to blow him off were correct. As soon as his demands were met, he just moved the goal posts, declared victory and went home.

      Good riddance!

      • Cirsova December 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

        Plus, wasn’t he going by the list of games you’d checked off that you’d owned or played on BGG? Who has time to do that sort of thing? On sites like that, I’ve never checked off that I “own” something unless I’m making an update to release information or have a copy that I’m selling.

  3. MC December 23, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Ah, BGG. It is a very useful resource for me and my wife when we are looking at a new game. Like any site we weigh comments and ratings carefully and learn who we need to ignore.

    We have been to the last 5 BGG cons in Dallas and had a great time. Learned about new games, play tested games we were interested in with experienced strangers. Pretty friendly overall.

    Website is different . The SJWs are making their moves. There is a Women in Gaming forums that shows up regularly with typical garbage. My wife told me she was trying to figure out how to turn that group off when a guy beat her to it. He was excoriated.

    I go for game info, not community so it works out for me pretty well.


    • jeffro December 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      If you really want to troll them, have someone go on as a new user and ask them to recommend a game that your wife would play. That always sets them on edge…!

  4. Charlie Warren December 25, 2014 at 12:35 am

    LOL…well played, Jeffro! I’ve been to BGG a few times but I really had no desire to register for their forums after reading the nonsense that seems to be the focus. Granted, I haven’t checked it in a while but I have had no indication that things have changed. I admit that it can be a great resource for board game related information but there did seem to be an overabundance of arrogance on there. Of course, that isn’t everyone so if the shoes DOES NOT fit then DO NOT wear it, please.

  5. brtrain January 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    My favourite Dave Barry quote is, “There’s a fine line between ‘hobby’ and ‘mental illness’.”

  6. JSpace January 12, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I think I joined Board Game Geek once to get a closer look at the counter sheets for some Multi-Man game (they make you join/ sign-in to zoom-in on certain photos for some reason). It’s not a place I frequent. I don’t buy that many new games.

    Hmm, most of the people I play wargames with were born in the sixties and earlier (I’m a bit younger). I’ve had minimal success converting the under thirty set from my RPG campaigns and board game meet-ups. In fact, a lot of the twentysomethings think I’m “too aggro” and won’t play certain games with me. Usually the good ones, unfortunately. So this is why I play Russian Campaign so much with the old timers (and spend most of that time getting my butt kicked).

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