Simple Things the Game Industry Could Do RIGHT NOW To Improve
Ben Stanley
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I have some suggestions to the gaming industry itself, and I'm sure others do as well. This GeekList is my first, and is an open letter to the proverbial "powers that be" in the board gaming industry.
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1. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:257]
Ben Stanley
United States
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More Deluxe Editions.

Face it: one of the primary steps in game design is reducing costs of production so that the final product is more commercially viable. That's all well and good, but the result is that gorgeous games sometimes get downgraded in component quality before release or between editions.

I think the solution is to offer two versions of most games: one for the masses and another version for the people for whom cost is no object. I can buy a chess set in solid gold! Why can't I buy a version of Power Grid with a simulated credit card machine so I don't have to count out money, or a version of Lost Cities or Battle Line engraven on dominoes instead of printed on cards so they never wear out, or a version of Puerto Rico with little models of buildings and more fine details on everything?

At least I can find a Settlers of Catan version like that, but couldn't other games make very limited runs at very high prices of truly elaborate games as they were originally envisioned? What if they simply offered them as a potential purchase, but you had to order and pay for them prior to production? There has to be a market for that . . .
 
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2. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:481]
Ben Stanley
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More Standardization.

Particularly of colors. I think it is a little odd that designers know they ought to try to accommodate the colorblind as they develop to increase potential market, yet we get pastel camels and bizarre color choices for scoring markers all the time!

Couldn't they scientifically identify the best color choices for a three player game (maybe the primary colors?), a four player game, a five player game, a six player game, and so forth, and only deviate when it is necessary for theme and still offers sufficient contrast between colors?

I'm not colorblind at all, but I can't tell you how many four player games I have where two of the colors are still hard to distinguish in a dim light.

(By the way, what are the best four colors for a four person game? Any opinions on that?)
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3. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
Ben Stanley
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Keep Truly Exceptional Games In Print.

I'm not sure I understand why games that are among the best in the entire world aren't being printed! I went by my awesome local game store and asked for "Through the Ages." I was told, "Out of Print; supposed to be reprinted in July of this year, but they missed that deadline and there is no new information anywhere."

How can a game that is among the top five in the entire history of the world and all gaming everywhere (at least according to BGG) not be profitable enough to keep in print? What is the deal with that?! Is this global recession messing up businesses that badly? I simply don't understand . . . the demand is there, why is there no supply?
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4. Board Game: Action Test [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
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Playtesting.

More playtesting.

Please.

We'll be happy to wait until the game is finished before we buy it, so there is no need to hurry.

Thank you.

Proofreading the rule booklet might help, too. And a bit of editing. Thanks again.
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5. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Ben Stanley
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More attention to storage.

I love a game that dedicates a page or two of the instructions to how one puts the game away! We need more games with perfect compartments for all the pieces without requiring elaborate after purchase solutions.
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6. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
Ben Stanley
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Keep the Brilliant, Portable Games Coming!

I love it when publishers think about portability and keep the boxes small.
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7. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2544]
Ben Stanley
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Give Us More Games That Can Be Played Lots of Ways.

I was going to use a picture of Stonehenge, but 71>5

How many clever, challenging, balanced games can I play with a single deck of cards? Put your variants in the instructions. Give us options!
 
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8. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1121]
Ben Stanley
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Give Us Different Versions of Your Games.

I love this trend in the industry. If you can take an awesome game, change it from auction and tiles to dice, or switch some other mechanic, or make it a portable card game, or whatever else, as long as it is brilliant each time, I'll buy and love them all.
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9. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:444]
Ben Stanley
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Invent New, Unique, and Interesting Mechanics.

I don't need a million different auction games, but I love playing something that isn't like everything else or that does something new with it all.
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10. Board Game: Piecepack [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:4259]
Ben Stanley
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Provide Tools For Prototyping and Creative Community Contributions.

One FLGS I visit has a small section for buying wooden discs and cubes, plastic stands, blank dice, and that sort of thing. All of them should do that.
 
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11. Board Game: Let's Learn Traffic Signs [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
 
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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By far the most troublesome aspect of any game is still the difficulty people have in learning it. Rule books, while comprehensive, are not designed to facilitate this process causing many people to complain of incomprehensible texts even though they'd totally 'get' the game were it explained to them by a friendly and knowledgable human. Provide some means to help new players to learn to play their new toy with as little effort as possible.

Such means can take on various forms. By far the best is sending over someone who can explain the rules and watch for a while, but this is impractical for a number of reasons. Therefore the two best alternatives are:
— provide an instructional video, either on DVD or available on the site of the publisher, which explains the game in a pleasant manner; or
— provide a constructed game for the players to play through. This is a simple and very low-cost solution to a glaring problem, and has the terrific additional benefit that everyone is doing something right from the start. There is no listening for half an hour to one person---there is immediate play with all the new shiny bits. You can even give some useful tips and hints at this stage.

I can count the number of games which provide such a constructed game on the fingers of one hand. Why isn't this more common in boardgame land?

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12. Board Game: Think-It Link-It [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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All the various stakeholders in the industry need to support each other.

Stuff like:

-Every game comes with a piece of paper that has the BGG URL on it so folks can join the community and get rules questions answered.
-Publishers, FLGS's, and On-line games stores need to support a common opponents wanted database.
-Players who recruit (seduce, coerce, persuade, whatever) a new buyer/user etc. should get some kind of reward.
-Every manufacturer should create or designate, every store should carry and every on-line store should ship for free a solid gateway game that sells at (or even a bit below cost). (Side note, I was in a FLGS today and gads, given the prices and names of our games, it is amazing we get anyone new into our hobby. 45 bucks for Puerto Rico? Seriously?). Let's get Citadels, Lost Cities, Blue Moon, Nexus Ops, and Stone Age into the hands of the masses.
-BGGers should organize local gaming events (at their public library, schools etc.). Maybe like on 11/14/09.
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13. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1277]
Stefano Castelli
Italy
Rome
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Start using smaller boxes and produce large boxes only if really necessary

Most people I know stopped buying big-box games because of lack of space in their home.

So, just produce a large box when it is strictly necessary, and not just to justify a high price tag ("Oooh! Look at that big box!")
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14. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:607] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Ben Stanley
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Keep Putting Great "Gateway" Games on the iPhone.

Board games are a perfect fit for things like the iPhone and the Xbox 360 Arcade, where the mechanics are straight forward and the interactive communication tools are available. I bought Knights of Charlemagne for 99 cents on the iPhone, and still went out and bought it for many times that much in print after being exposed to the elegant scoring system.

Board game companies and designers need to embrace joint ventures with video game companies as a tool for growth, not fear them as a canabalizing or eroding force on the industry.
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