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