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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Advice for New Reviewers rss

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Chris Hecox
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Hello all.

Sorry if this is not the right forum for this! I'm having a hard time finding one exclusive to reviewers.

Slowly working my way into the industry as a tabletop reviewer for a website I am a part of.

I'm looking for general advice from seasoned reviewers (I write, I don't make videos... yet...) and also from any publishers on this forum.

I'd like for this to be a large discussion about the do's and dont's of reviewing, including some of these topics:


-How to approach publishers at conventions
-Email Etiquette (how to ask for review copies, general questions about their company)
-How much time do you spend on each review? (from learning rules, to playing, to photos, editing, etc)
-How do you find your specific voice?
-Do you ever charge for reviews?

I'm open for plenty more questions and discussion, but based on your good and bad experiences with reviewers, and your successes and failures as a reviewer, what advice do you have?

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Paul DeStefano
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You don't ask anyone for review copies.

You write a few dozen reviews.

If someone likes them, they will contact you.

Asking for review copies seems pretty... tacky.
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Matt D
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Geosphere wrote:
You don't ask anyone for review copies.

You write a few dozen reviews.

If someone likes them, they will contact you.


This. There are tons of reviewers out there who have different followings and different levels of popularity. The market is, to be honest, pretty saturated.

I consider myself to be a good writer, and was actually a semi-prfessional reviewer in a different medium some years ago. I haven't even tried to get into reviewing Board Games because there are just too many people doing it, and unless you cultivate a following, no one is really going to take the time to work with you when they can work with someone else who ALREADY has that following.

Not that I want to discourage you, just don't expect to instantly start asking publishers for stuff to review. Really it's a buyer's market on the publisher's side right now.

My suggestion would be to find an angle and work that if you are serious about it. For example, Rahdo is a very popular and well known figure for his "Rahdo Runs Through" series. They are actually less about reviews and more about exposing game play -- he doesn't go through and critique and such as much as others do. Dice Tower reviews, but has a large name behind it. There is a guy whose name escapes me who reviews from the perspective of a Dad (I think it may be like Gamer Dad or something). That was the angle I was thinking I might use, as the father of a five year old who really enjoys games. But, well, my perspective isn't that unique compared to what is out there.

But definitely make a name for yourself FIRST before you start asking the publishers for stuff.
 
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
The market is, to be honest, pretty saturated.


This.
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Anna H
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This is great post by Jamey Stegmaier (Stomaier Games) on the subject:

http://stonemaiergames.com/an-open-letter-to-new-reviewers-o...

It's from 2014, though, so a certain amount of "inflation" should probably be applied to the numbers he uses.
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Charles Ward
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We need more playtesters!
 
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Matt D
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Re: Advice for New Reviewersm
ex1st wrote:
We need more playtesters!


This too.
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Brian Hoier
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I do video reviews with Meeples on Meeples. I'll be honest, it's tough.

Some background:

- We have been putting video reviews out for four years
- We have put out quite a few videos (over a hundred, I believe)
- We do have our own (somewhat primitive) website that we pay for
- We have a Facebook page, and in all this time we only have around 250 subs
- On YouTube we have been fairly successful, with almost 1,800 subs

And in all this time, and with all our work, we have only been contacted maybe two to three times and offered review copies. You can reach out to publishers, and a few have been accepting of requests for review copies, but many will flat out ignore you. Of all the games we have Facebooked about, tweeted out, or filmed, I can honestly say that fewer than a dozen were given to us.

Not to totally rain on your parade, but when we started four years ago board games were just hitting this crazy "second coming" and the landscape was MUCH less crowded. And we still are small fish. It is tough.

Also know that it does become more "work" and less "play" (no pun intended). I have games that I LOVE and rate a 9 or 10, but I have played them less than ten times because we always feel pressured to play something new so we can film it. You will spend more time choosing new games and reviewing than you probably think.

My advice, do it if you love it. Don't let it totally dictate when and what you play. Get friends involved (this has been a BIG help for Meeples on Meeples, friends make the time go faster). Find a way to stand out (we do group reviews and did them BEFORE Tom, Sam, and Zee started). And just review what you own or can borrow.

Good luck!
Brian Hoier
Meeples on Meeples
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Brendan Riley
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hestiansun wrote:
ex1st wrote:
We need more playtesters!


This too.


This is true, but part of the social compact of the playtester is that you won't write reviews of the game you played -- at least, usually. You might say you play tested a game and it was fun for "x" or "y" reason, but most designers wouldn't want to work with playtesters whom they thought would make public the problems they found with the game.

But if you're trying to "work your way into the industry," this would probably be more effective than reviewing, if you're good at it.
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Charles Ward
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wombat929 wrote:
hestiansun wrote:
ex1st wrote:
We need more playtesters!


This too.


This is true, but part of the social compact of the playtester is that you won't write reviews of the game you played -- at least, usually. You might say you play tested a game and it was fun for "x" or "y" reason, but most designers wouldn't want to work with playtesters whom they thought would make public the problems they found with the game.

But if you're trying to "work your way into the industry," this would probably be more effective than reviewing, if you're good at it.


Yes, I took Blood & Fortune to the reviewers before the playtesters. Some love it some hate it, but it was all in the open. Talk about diving into the deep end. As time has passed, and I have got good at teaching the game at game markets in Japan, I'm finally getting the seeds for a few ideas. I hope these will bringing out the best of the game.
 
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