February 7, 2006

Blogs vs. BGG

by Susan Rozmiarek

There always seems to be an ongoing controversy over at BoardgameGeeek (BGG) about personal blogs. Apparently many people are concerned that the explosion of blogs over the past year is fragmenting the gaming community. These folks seem to feel that these websites draw content away that they would rather see centralized at BGG. As someone who enjoys blogging a great deal, Iíd like to explore my own thoughts on the issue.

While it is very gratifying to my ego that there are a few others who read and enjoy what I write here, this blog is first and foremost a scrapbook and journal for ME. I never really understood many of my friendsí fascination with scrapbooking. I have neither the patience nor the craft skills to sit down and arrange photos and cutouts on a page of paper. Then I realized that that is exactly what Iím doing with this blog. It is a record of memories presented with my (and Edís) personal touches that I hope to be able to go back and enjoy 10 or 20 years from now. While I would like to think that BGG will still be around far into the future and I can go back and look at what Iíve written, there is no guarantee that it will still be there.

To me, BGG feels like a big public gathering place for gamers and it does its job VERY well. Itís kind of like going to the mall. If you are looking for something in particular, the owners have done a great job organizing the content and you can usually find what you are looking for. In the center though, there is also the big sprawling food court, where gamers of all types hang out and discuss all kinds of things. Here you can often be entertained or find some good nuggets of info, but just as often youíll find that youíve wasted your time with meaningless arguments. There are some nice ways to show your personal side here such as with avatars and badges, but I equate that with the clothes I wear and the bumper stickers on my car.

On the other hand, The Game Ranch feels more like my home. I can kick off my shoes and do what I want because Iím in my own private space. I donít have to worry about impressing anybody; I can post my thoughts, comments and news items even if they are very trivial. If people arenít interested they can drive right by without stopping. Even though it may be just an illusion, I simply donít feel the pressure of public scrutiny as much here. This place reflects our personality and itís decorated to our tastes. We can play around with it and experiment. Having your own website and blog is a fun, creative outlet that is a hobby in and of itself. Friends drop by and so does the occasional stranger. (Even unwelcome ones. Thank goodness for spam software). As a matter of fact, new friends have found us through our website. Itís hard to get noticed in the crowds at the mall. I also enjoy visiting others in their virtual homes and hearing what they have to say in their own style. It can be hard to find and get to know them in the crowded public places as well.

Itís easy enough for me to post things both here and on BGG that I hope have real value to other gamers, such as reviews. I would hope that other bloggers do likewise. But even if they donít, thatís okay. There are plenty of quality reviews and other information to be found on BGG, with or without the contributions of a few bloggers. Comparing BGG to blogs is like comparing apples and oranges. Like public gathering places and private homes, both have their rightful place in a community. I just really donít see a problem; both can exist and contribute to the hobby in a positive way.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at February 7, 2006 12:54 PM


BGG is a great centralized resource, but the group of friends I play games with aren't fanatics and wouldn't spend ten minutes trying to dig into BGG. However they will read my game blog once a week, or after a recent session, and then might click on a link directly to a game page, or to browse my collection on BGG. It seems to me blogs can only expand the community not fragment it.

There's more disemination of information via blogs. The recent BGIA awards were announced on virtually every boardgame blog I frequent. It was at that time that I realized these blogs are speaking to an expanded audience outside the "community". Friends and family who would otherwise never know such awards exist.

Posted by: bruboo on February 7, 2006 1:46 PM

Well said. I've been kicking around the idea of writing such an article. Still might.

The "mall for boardgamers" was the analogy I couldn't come up with. Had I thought of that I would have used it. Very good description.

There's a lot of stuff at the mall that interests me, but there's even more that doesn't. It gets to be a chore to keep track of it all.

BGG is an indispensable resource that ties our community together. But the people who contribute the best content are frequently sniped at and ridiculed for their contributions by people who contribute nothing. Who needs it? I don't blame them for putting their effort somewhere else. So far blogs are pretty civil.

The "Coldfoot Theorem" is that blogs are harder to surf causing the lazier elements of society (who also happen to be the biggest complainers and flamers) to avoid them. Also, bloggers (and I probably fit this description the least) are less likely to be drawn into a flame war which makes trolling on blogs rather boring.

Not to be a curmudgeon, but back in the days when there were three or four new geeklists each week, and I was familiar with 80% of the users BGG was more fun. OK. I'm a curmudgeon.

Posted by: coldfoot on February 7, 2006 10:09 PM

I loved your "Mall" analogy; it fits perfectly.

As for hoping that anything written on the Geek will be there in the future, have you tried to access the Journals written? They're gone. I wanted to see something I'd written back in the Journal days, and although it lists how many Journal entries I made, I can't click on them.

BTW, I enjoy reading your blog. You do a great job of describing new games that you've played and your tastes are similar to my own. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: sodaklady on February 7, 2006 11:31 PM

I agree with Koldie. BGG was more fun back when I "knew" 80% of the people who were posting. Nowadays it's like hanging out in a crowded bar on a Friday night. Sometimes it's worse.

I also like the control that a weblog grants. Ever since the personal GeekJournals were lost in the transition over to the BGG forums (as Mary stated), the touch of having a personal space on BGG disappeared. I like my blog, even if the audience is a fraction of what you'd get on BGG despite a forum topic disappearing off the front page in minutes.

BLog on.

Posted by: Richard on February 8, 2006 7:19 AM

A few other reasons why blogging wins out over BGG:

1. You spend a bit of time authoring a nice post. On BGG it appears as a line item that quickly rolls off the page. On one's blog, it's the current chapter, front and center, until you author something else.

2. It's nice having your collective journal all bound up together and in one place. Your blog is a portrait of yourself.

3. Style. On BGG, Aldie has done a wonderful job at making it functional and well-organized, but it certainly doesn't have much aesthetic appeal. Each person's blog has a different flavor. A great article posted on BGG is presented on a typical Steno pad.

All this said, BGG remains irreplaceable. Nice post.

Posted by: Mario T. Lanza on February 8, 2006 8:05 AM

Well, as a blogger myself, I see nothing wrong with blogging about boardgames. The people who want to read them will and those tho don't won't. My own blog is first and foremost my personal blog, which happens to have gaming content. Most of the stuff I put in my blog I wouldn't post at the 'geek because it is not topical.

As for the gaming content, it usually makes its way to the geek somehow or other, at the very least in the form of ratings and "Games Played" but for larger events I usually make a geeklist. If I write something more serious, like a review, I will generally post it both places.

I don't see a problem here. No one's blog will ever replace the 'Geek. Even most of the new websites that are cropping up here and there for various purposes within the boardgame hobby won't replace the 'Geek because only a small subset of people will take the time to go to them. I consider myself pretty hardcore and I rarely go anywhere other than the 'Geek and occasionally BoardGameNews to read my friends' weekly articles.

Posted by: Anye on February 8, 2006 4:30 PM

Excellent article! You described my thoughts exactly.

I'm just discovering good games-related blogs and finally began my own. As you noted, I will still contribute something now and then to BGG, but I get more enjoyment from writing whatever I feel like writing in a more comfortable atmosphere.

I'm glad coldfoot included a link to your site today on Gone Gaming. I will enjoy very much visiting here often. There seems to be quite a community of folks who have similar thoughts about gaming as I have, and I am happy to be finding more of them.

Feel free to drop by my blog when you have nothing better to do....

Posted by: Gerald - gamesgrandpa on February 10, 2006 11:09 AM

Thanks to everyone who posted a reply. It's been interesting reading other's views on the topic, here and in other blogs.

Gerald - I've already been enjoying reading both your blogs! We need to update the links here on our website. I've been reading all the blogs of people who have replied here for a while except for Petworth which I've now added to my personal list.

Posted by: SusanR on February 12, 2006 8:47 PM
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