One Year Later…

One Year Later

Sort-of-stuck with the old photo on the left, but tried to get a better shot for the new one.

Hi everyone!

So, a little more than a year ago I decided to start writing board game reviews, as honestly I was kind of bored and had a lot of free time and a fair number of games and figured I could do something productive with those two things. And I know everyone says “but I never expected X would happen” or some other sort of fluff, but I genuinely did not expect that it would turn out like this. Since then, I’ve bought far too many games (see the before / after photos), made some awesome friends, and even gotten a shout-out from that guy who does Tabletop, Wil Wheaton! It’s been a busy year. Let’s look at some of the numbers:

  • 47 reviews, or just slightly less than one review per week (.904 reviews / week, for those of you doing the math at home).
  • An average review score of 8.059, leading to this lovely almost-normal-yet-slightly-right-leaning-because-who-wants-to-spend-their-time-writing-about-games-they-don’t-like distribution (that’s a formal name, mind you):
    Board Game Ratings.PNG

    Turns out the world is approximately normally distributed, just like my probability professor in college said.

  • ~65,000 views and ~24,000 visitors, which was something I never really expected because this is the kind of thing that you start and you expect your parents to read it every now and then and say “it’s nice that you’re doing things, honey.” in that sort of way that parents are abstractly proud of you sometimes.

But that’s all numbers, and you’d see similar ones in the annual “YEAR IN REVIEW” post that WordPress does (and already did) for me. I just started (almost exactly) at the midpoint of 2015 & 2016, so I figured it might be worth sharing what’s current.

This wasn’t a particularly well-thought-out post because I don’t have a lot else to say other than I’m excited to have made it this far and looking forward to the next things to happen in board gaming. I guess I should also share some things I’ve learned (we call them “learnings” at work [as in “I should share some of my learnings”] but that’s physically painful to say out loud for me, so I’m not going to do that):

  • Content comes first, but maintain flexibility to adapt and grow. I think the most valuable advice my friend gave to me was to just write a bunch of reviews first, and then share once I actually have more than say 10 or 15 since that gives people something to look at when they’re done with the review they just read. It also is about developing your content over time — since the beginning, I’ve added a section on Player Count Differences to highlight where games change at different player counts (or where I wouldn’t play them at all, see three-player Spyfall), as well as a Mehs section to my Pros and Cons to highlight when I’m just like, giving a slightly-negative shrug to something that isn’t a big enough deal for me to highlight as a Con. If I had the chance to go back and redo it, I’d probably have framed it as “I Like” and “I Wish”, so as to be a bit more constructive from the get-go. I also learned how basic HTML works (software engineer, here) and how to add anchor tags all over, so now people don’t have to scroll through 2000+ words just to find out how I felt about a particular game. Hooray!
  • Social media is complicated. I honestly don’t understand how Facebook Pages work, but Instagram and Twitter seem to be nice enough.
  • Numerical scores are the worst. I’ve been using a mostly-accurate interpretation of BGG’s ranking system to score games, but almost all scores are super subjective so it’s hard to suggest that that’s the best way to do it. My midpoint score is a 5, but I’d rather not spend time writing about games I don’t like (this is called “What’s Eric Playing?” not “What Games Is Eric Considering in the Abstract?”, which sounds like a pretty decent spinoff blog, so … maybe?), so as you’ll note from the above chart I haven’t reviewed anything below a 5.5 yet, and am trying not to for a couple reasons, the foremost of which is just that writing a negative review seems kind of draining. Doing this to have fun, after all. If I were starting from scratch, would I do numbers again? Probably, but they’re just a pain. I have a spreadsheet that I’m tracking all-time, and I occasionally have to make adjustments (see Tsuro of the Seas knocking Tsuro down to a 6 because while I like Tsuro, I probably won’t play it over Tsuro of the Seas since it reimplements the base game).
  • I learned how to photography, kind of. Looking back at my first pictures is a bit painful, since they’re sort of a this:
    Layingand they’ve got that really nice “table-glare with a bit of washout” thing going on, which, like, this isn’t a terrible picture (I at least used some flash), but it certainly could have gone better (what exactly is this picture trying to demonstrate, anyways? I imagine if I read my Catan post I’d remember but I don’t. I guess it’s like, how you put the hex tiles in a board?). I should probably go back and redo all of my photos at some point. That could be fun. Make some into prints or postcards. People love postcards.Anyways.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to do more photography that’s sort of like this:

    IMG_20160627_230705

    which is, in my opinion, a bit nicer, even though it actually looked like this when I took it:

    Above and Below 013.JPG

    Centering photos is hard, too.

    Yes, this strongly implies that I’m on a chair right now in the dark and yes that’s garbage on the floor. So really it’s not so much about learning to photography as much as it is learning that photo-editing software is magic.

The last thing I learned is that so much of the community is great. There are people on here who do video reviews, accessibility teardowns, designers, developers, content creators, quirky social-media-only accounts, inane and wonderful Twitter games of Onitama, and just generally a lot of really nice people. To that end, I wanna do a giveaway for a game that I really enjoy, Apotheca: The Secret Potion Society (and, thanks to the generosity of other board game friends on board game Twitter, a few more games)! You can find more details here.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to another great year.

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16 thoughts on “One Year Later…

  1. Congrats on making it through a whole year! 😀 And those are some great tips. No one ever tells you about the amount of time that goes into photo editing, but it makes a huuuge difference if you use it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha 😀 It’s a good thing you don’t have to post every day ;). I’ve started working on my own site that focuses on board games, but haven’t published a single thing yet because of the pictures… selecting and editing. And then you haven’t even written a word yet, while that’s the most important part! So yes, I say *Thumbs up* for you mister! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Darn, I totally forgot to do so because I was on my smart phone when I first read it! Thanks for the reminder 😀 P.s.- do I have to unfollow and then follow you again on WordPress to get the 8 points? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on the year!

    If you’re taking requests for future special blog posts, I’d love to see you do something on how you go about taking nice photographs. My technique is to go into the kitchen, point my phone at stuff at random, and take a dozen pictures of everything in the hope that at least one is in focus.

    Like

  3. Congrats on one year, Eric. And double congrats on the shout-out from Wil Wheaton! That’s awesome! …Now then, can you get me a seat at his table, what with all your connections and everything? 😉 lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice wrap up of the journey! Going to try and take some pointers on the photos! I had a pretty similar issue early on with scoring and decided to move away from a numeric scoring system partially for the reasons you listed – it just ended up constraining the creativity of the content too much! Good luck with year two!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I waffle on it, but generally I just keep track of my scores to make sure that my scores make sense. Plus people generally like numerical scores because they can rank games more easily that way. I also try to be fair to the game within its sort of genre when I score it, y’know?

        Thanks! 😀

        Like

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