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Subject: Is it me, or the game categories and mechanics are a mess? rss

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Bruno Pigeon
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IMHO, I think the categories and mechanics are all mixed up.

Negotiations is a category but trading is a mechanic.
Dexterity is a category but Singing is a mechanic.

Also, in categories, you have things like Dexterity, memory, wargame, economic, racing, which all seems to refer to the type of game, while there are things like Zombies, World War II, Arabian, which refer to the theme of the game. Shouldn't the theme of the game be under it's own label: Theme?

Same thing for mechanics. It seems to me that there is a mix of specific in-game mechanic and more broad terms that refer to the type of game.

I've always found those two elements less than useful when looking at the info on a game.

I think there should be 3 labels:
Theme: The subject of the game. What it's about. Pirates? Zombies? Animals?

Category (the main thing your are going to do while playing): Strategy game, Racing, bidding, trivia, dexterity, Roll and move, coop...

Mechanics (how the game is played): Dice Rolling, set collection, chit-pull system, secret unit deployment, modular boards, etc.

EDIT: I would in fact a fourth label: Game components. Can be really useful to know what a game is like. Wooden cubes, player mats, plastics miniatures, dice, cardboard standees, etc.

For example, Ticket to Ride.
Theme - Train
Category - Network building
Mechanics - Card Drafting, Set Collection, Hidden objective
Components: Cards, Central Gameboard, plastic miniatures.

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Daniel Corban
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While sometimes theme may be mislabeled category or mechanics, it doesn't harm anyone as long as it still applies and the proper categories are still present. For example, if a zombie auction game has the category "zombies", this is no harm as long as "bidding" or "auction" is present.

In other words, too many categories is fine. Micromanaging the categories is probably more effort than it is worth for most people. If any particular category, theme, or mechanic label bothers you, you can submit corrections using the automated form.
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Bruno Pigeon
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dcorban wrote:
While sometimes theme may be mislabeled category or mechanics, it doesn't harm anyone as long as it still applies and the proper categories are still present. For example, if a zombie auction game has the category "zombies", this is no harm as long as "bidding" or "auction" is present.

In other words, too many categories is fine. Micromanaging the categories is probably more effort than it is worth for most people. If any particular category, theme, or mechanic label bothers you, you can submit corrections using the automated form.


But the goal of BoardGameGeek is to provide useful accurate information about boardgames. So to me it doesn't make sense to strive to be accurate, and then offer a mishmash of info under two labels.

Looking at the information for a game is easy enough even if you don't agree with what is written. But it's much less intuitive when you are using the advanced search tool to find a specific type of game.

And having accurate information is really useful when trying to compare games.
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Russ Williams
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Yes, they're a mess and it's been brought up before, but seemingly the existing data is too entrenched to change. Similarly, the game families are a mess.
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/|\ Roland /|\
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While I agree with you on most all of your points, I couldn't help but giggle at the thought:

Game Title: Smash Up
Theme: Smash Up
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dcorban wrote:
While sometimes theme may be mislabeled category or mechanics, it doesn't harm anyone as long as it still applies and the proper categories are still present. For example, if a zombie auction game has the category "zombies", this is no harm as long as "bidding" or "auction" is present.

In other words, too many categories is fine. Micromanaging the categories is probably more effort than it is worth for most people. If any particular category, theme, or mechanic label bothers you, you can submit corrections using the automated form.


Except having too many categories means the actual useful ones get lost in the noise.
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Caleb
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russ wrote:
Yes, they're a mess and it's been brought up before, but seemingly the existing data is too entrenched to change. Similarly, the game families are a mess.



I heard this is getting updated right after the site redesign whistle
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Simon Lundström
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No, it's not just you. The categories and mechanisms are a mess.

Categorizing categorization tags may sound as silly, but there is a sense in it.

I agree with you setup of 3 labels, but changing things now means we have to re-categorize the whole database. I believe that more than half will remain un-recategorized (because they were submitted by someone who isn't here any more and no one else knows enough about the game), which will make things hard to change.
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Bruno Pigeon
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I'm no database expert so I don't know how hard or easy it would be, but it seems to me an "easy" way to do it would be first to add a Theme tag. Then for example, find all the game with the zombies category. Remove the reference to zombie from the category for each game, and add the Theme Zombie for each game. The delete the Zombie option in Category.

 
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Mattias R
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It's not you. An Alternative Classification of Board Games (long) is the best and most worked out alternative.

As long as anyone can edit them, they are going to stay a mess. Enlightened dictatorship is the only way to go.
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Bruno Pigeon
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Great! Thanks for he link
 
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I agree with much of the above. The current categories/mechanisms are a total mess. I think part of the problem is where to draw the line between a category and a mechanic. Deck-Building for example is a mechanic, but it has also come to represent a category of "deck building games."

In an ideal system, you'd likely have two lists: Mechanics and Theme. Mechanics would be what you actually do (worker placement, deck building, roll and move, area control, etc.) and theme would be theme (pirates, space, dinosaurs, Civil War, WWII, and the ever popular Medieval trading).

If we had a Category or Family it should be exceptionally broad - pretty much the categories BGG creates in the form of: Wargame, Thematic, Strategy, Abstract, Customizable, etc. And a game should be able to occupy more than one category if it is a hybrid. That way, you could have a broad view in the Category, and subdivide it by mechanic or theme as you prefer.

Of course, this system is "ideal" only because it matches my preferences. Others might find it totally useless. But really anything would be better than the current system which I do think is quite poor.
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MyParadox wrote:
I agree with much of the above. The current categories/mechanisms are a total mess. I think part of the problem is where to draw the line between a category and a mechanic. Deck-Building for example is a mechanic, but it has also come to represent a category of "deck building games."

In an ideal system, you'd likely have two lists: Mechanics and Theme. Mechanics would be what you actually do (worker placement, deck building, roll and move, area control, etc.) and theme would be theme (pirates, space, dinosaurs, Civil War, WWII, and the ever popular Medieval trading).

If we had a Category or Family it should be exceptionally broad - pretty much the categories BGG creates in the form of: Wargame, Thematic, Strategy, Abstract, Customizable, etc. And a game should be able to occupy more than one category if it is a hybrid. That way, you could have a broad view in the Category, and subdivide it by mechanic or theme as you prefer.

Of course, this system is "ideal" only because it matches my preferences. Others might find it totally useless. But really anything would be better than the current system which I do think is quite poor.


You don't mean 'theme', you mean 'setting'. Calling it theme is a complete misnomer. Theme of a game gets at the underlying concepts and truths that it is exploring (like any art form - some better than others, of course). Setting is your pirates or monsters or space-men or whatever.
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Caleb
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Zimeon wrote:
I believe that more than half will remain un-recategorized (because they were submitted by someone who isn't here any more and no one else knows enough about the game), which will make things hard to change.


Then you nuke them all and offer a GG bounty for updating them. Better than having old crappy data in there.
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cannoneer wrote:
You don't mean 'theme', you mean 'setting'. Calling it theme is a complete misnomer. Theme of a game gets at the underlying concepts and truths that it is exploring (like any art form - some better than others, of course). Setting is your pirates or monsters or space-men or whatever.


While I agree that "setting" might be the more correct word choice, "theme" has an established meaning on this site and among board gamers generally.

In fact, the category on this site for games with a rich "setting" is "Thematic."
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Simon Lundström
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cannoneer wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
I believe that more than half will remain un-recategorized (because they were submitted by someone who isn't here any more and no one else knows enough about the game), which will make things hard to change.


Then you nuke them all and offer a GG bounty for updating them. Better than having old crappy data in there.


Actually, I fully agree. That's what they did when categorizing images. That's what I'll hope they'll do when the introduce categories for GeekLists.

However, for game categories, it's a different nut to crack, as even though it's (mostly) an easy thing to see if an image of a game is "game", "creative" or "people", it's hard to suggest mechanisms, themes and settings for a game I've never ever played.

HOWEVER (again) the solution to this is of course to take the current data and translate (as well as possible) to the new system. A lot will overlap, of course, and whatever isn't fixed can stand, I guess. It's not like the current data is completely 100% true and revised. So it's all doable.
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Andrew H
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super_bruno wrote:
IMHO, I think the categories and mechanics are all mixed up.

Negotiations is a category but trading is a mechanic.
Dexterity is a category but Singing is a mechanic.

Also, in categories, you have things like Dexterity, memory, wargame, economic, racing, which all seems to refer to the type of game, while there are things like Zombies, World War II, Arabian, which refer to the theme of the game. Shouldn't the theme of the game be under it's own label: Theme?

Same thing for mechanics. It seems to me that there is a mix of specific in-game mechanic and more broad terms that refer to the type of game.

I've always found those two elements less than useful when looking at the info on a game.

I think there should be 3 labels:
Theme: The subject of the game. What it's about. Pirates? Zombies? Animals?

Category (the main thing your are going to do while playing): Strategy game, Racing, bidding, trivia, dexterity, Roll and move, coop...

Mechanics (how the game is played): Dice Rolling, set collection, chit-pull system, secret unit deployment, modular boards, etc.

EDIT: I would in fact a fourth label: Game components. Can be really useful to know what a game is like. Wooden cubes, player mats, plastics miniatures, dice, cardboard standees, etc.

For example, Ticket to Ride.
Theme - Train
Category - Network building
Mechanics - Card Drafting, Set Collection, Hidden objective
Components: Cards, Central Gameboard, plastic miniatures.



I would argue that most of your "categories" are still mechanics.
Category implies a group of games which have something in common. If the thing in common is the way the game is played, this is a mechanic they share, not a category. Categories should be broader - eg parlour game,
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Bruno Pigeon
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I think category should be the essence of the game. The main thing you do in the game.

E.G Ticket to ride: Network building
Formula Dé: Racing
Elder sign: Dice game
etc.

There are going to be some overlap between mechanics and category. But the goal is to help people identify games. Parlour game doesn't mean much and is really too broad to be useful: "A parlour game is a group game played indoors."
 
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Zimeon wrote:
However, for game categories, it's a different nut to crack, as even though it's (mostly) an easy thing to see if an image of a game is "game", "creative" or "people", it's hard to suggest mechanisms, themes and settings for a game I've never ever played.


Yeah, this is the real issue. I've seen images with a human in the background bounced in both directions as people disagree to what extent the rule should be applied. If it's an out of focus person in the background and the main focus is the game, then arguably it could be categorised under game, but who is the arbiter of what is and isn't acceptable - some people won't tolerate even a glimpse of someone's hand on the table, is that too far? what about a lifesize "standee" of a CGI human in the background, is that any more or less distracting even if it's not technically a person? It's impossible to account for every eventuality with sensible guidelines, and that's for something visual that it's relatively easy to deal with. Category/mechanic/theme are much more abstract, difficult to pin down concepts. I'm not sure how useful it is to someone searching for games with a particular mechanism to find the list changing on an hourly basis.
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Bruno Pigeon
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mr18196 wrote:
It's not you. An Alternative Classification of Board Games (long) is the best and most worked out alternative.

As long as anyone can edit them, they are going to stay a mess. Enlightened dictatorship is the only way to go.


I tried to use this alternative to classify the games I own. It was very diffcult to use. I wasn't able to fit a game like Cyclades in any genre. Maybe it's trying to be too specific? 3 different types of deduction, different types of area control, etc. Does the information need to be so specific? I think by being to specific, you'll end up with the exact same problem that we have now. Something that is not too useful.

Same thing for the Inter-Player relationship. There is a mix of general categories (competitive, team and cooperative) and sub-categories (2v2, coordinative, semi-cooperative). This mix will become confusing to use. And it opens the door to endless variation: 3v2, 4v2, semi-cooperative hidden traitor, team with traitors, etc, etc.

Classifying games in general categories would help you find games that may appeal to you. Then reading the rules and the forums to find out what is special or unique about this game is the way to go IMHO.
 
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Bruno Pigeon
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delinear wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
However, for game categories, it's a different nut to crack, as even though it's (mostly) an easy thing to see if an image of a game is "game", "creative" or "people", it's hard to suggest mechanisms, themes and settings for a game I've never ever played.


Yeah, this is the real issue. I've seen images with a human in the background bounced in both directions as people disagree to what extent the rule should be applied. If it's an out of focus person in the background and the main focus is the game, then arguably it could be categorised under game, but who is the arbiter of what is and isn't acceptable - some people won't tolerate even a glimpse of someone's hand on the table, is that too far? what about a lifesize "standee" of a CGI human in the background, is that any more or less distracting even if it's not technically a person? It's impossible to account for every eventuality with sensible guidelines, and that's for something visual that it's relatively easy to deal with. Category/mechanic/theme are much more abstract, difficult to pin down concepts. I'm not sure how useful it is to someone searching for games with a particular mechanism to find the list changing on an hourly basis.


Maybe the solution, as proposed before, is to avoid giving everybody the option of modifying a game's taxonomy. Having a small group of people who knows the system could do the work.
 
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super_bruno wrote:
Maybe the solution, as proposed before, is to avoid giving everybody the option of modifying a game's taxonomy. Having a small group of people who knows the system could do the work.


I think it's likely the only way it could work, but it's a huge (and constantly moving) manual undertaking for a small group of people. Not to mention, as raised above, those people will each only have knowledge of a fraction of the games on BGG. If they have to reach out to others to find out about games they've not played, you're back to square one (i.e. the info they get will differ depending on who they reach out to and may not be accurate or consistent).
 
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Bruno Pigeon
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Yes, it's something big. But why keep going on with something that is obviously flawed. Someday, they will have to make a move on the subject. Why not now?

I've had a similar problem with my choir. For years, we've had problematic elements that we kept because we didn't want to upset anybody and it was too much effort to change. This year we've decided to take the steps to correct those problems. It did upset some people, it's a lot of work, not a lot of fun. But it will finally allow us to achieve our goals.

And as somebody else said, begin with the most popular games. Obscure games that nobody knows or are out of print are not a priority.
 
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super_bruno wrote:
Maybe the solution, as proposed before, is to avoid giving everybody the option of modifying a game's taxonomy. Having a small group of people who knows the system could do the work.


Yes, but it's undoable. Sometimes I think it's better to just have a cloud of different tags (that aren't even categorized, such as "trains", "cards", "american war", "anime girls" or whatever) and then let users simply apply those they think fit.

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Zimeon wrote:
super_bruno wrote:
Maybe the solution, as proposed before, is to avoid giving everybody the option of modifying a game's taxonomy. Having a small group of people who knows the system could do the work.


Yes, but it's undoable. Sometimes I think it's better to just have a cloud of different tags (that aren't even categorized, such as "trains", "cards", "american war", "anime girls" or whatever) and then let users simply apply those they think fit.



I was going to suggest this too. Most gamers don't care if "laying train track" is the category, theme or mechanic, they just know that they enjoy games where they get to build tracks and want to see all games of that ilk. You'll still get some mis-tagged games, but if you make it easy enough for anyone registered to participate, then the quantity of responses should ensure, for the most popular games, that the most accurate tags are the most prominent. It's not going to have the 100% accuracy that a closely moderated system would have, but it's also not going to cost anywhere near as much or take as long to become effective.
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