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Subject: Suggestions for a New Reviewer: A Positive Thread rss

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Caleb Bunch
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I am in the early stages of writing print reviews. I have completed a few, but am hoping to make it a regular practice to review the games I put so much time, energy, and money into. Hopefully these reviews will be helpful to others.

Here is how you can help.
- What elements are necessary for a review?
- What are some excellent reviews that you would recommend I read to get a sense of quality.
- What are some specific pitfalls I should avoid? (Please do not give real life examples. This is designed to build up, not tear down).
- Is there any relevant data that I should take into consideration before doing a review of a game?

Please let me know your thoughts. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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These threads always reveal that different people want different things out of a review.

So first off - have a think about what you want in a review, and then, try and write that. You can't please everyone, so you may as well please yourself!

But, for me, whats necessary for a good review is that it gives me a sense of what it feels like to play. What are the things that give it its identity and make it distinct from anything else? What are the bits of my brain that are going to be firing? What am I going to enjoy about it?

Pitfalls? Well, for me, I can read a rulebook so I don't need a how to play description. I don't need a huge run down on component quality (a little is okay, if it's a feature of the thing, or it makes the game unplayable or something); i'm playing it, not looking at it. Arbitrary ratings mean little, especially if I don't read all your reviews. Your opinion should be expressed in words, throughout - that's how I know what you think of it, not whether you give it a 6.5 or a 7.


Some of the best, imo:

Dan Thurot
Charlie Theel
Matt Thrower
These guys
Michael Barnes

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No One
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lasttruegypsy wrote:
- What are some specific pitfalls I should avoid? (Please do not give real life examples. This is designed to build up, not tear down).
Be aware of your own biases and how yours might differ from your readers. For instance, if there's a general mechanic/theme you don't enjoy, can you put yourself in the shoes of someone who would generally enjoy it and judge whether or not the mechanic/theme is well implemented?

It helps if you review what you don't like as well as what you like, so regular readers have better references to reconcile your tastes with theirs.

Those are the 2 biggies that I look for in reviewers: can they see past their own tastes, and can I reconcile my tastes with theirs.

I hope that helps,

~V
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Sue Hemberger

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Slightly different take re biases. Just name yours when they’re relevant. That’s useful info. I’m not so sure that imagining what you’d think if you didn’t have your biases is helpful. Generally, when I actively dislike (or just fail to appreciate) an entire category of things, I’m not a good judge of how people who love that category would distinguish among/rank things within it.
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Daniel Harris
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For me, don’t forget to give an opinion on the game. Too often reviews are just rules rehashes. I’m curious to know what someone that has played the game thinks of it. The more times your opinion matches a readers, the more they trust you.

One additional note, as a reader, any review that has a subject including “a quick review” or “initial thoughts/impressions” I don’t even bother clicking.

Best of luck on becoming a reviewer! I’m looking forward to reading them.
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Kyle
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99% of what we get are overviews, not reviews. We don't need a detailed breakdown of the rules, we don't need lots of pictures, we need to look further and talk about what the game does, and how it does it (with as little chaff and specific rules details) as is possible to explain. We need to focus on the outcome, not the input requirements. Most reviews are sufficiently worse for my understanding than just reading the rulebook, as most of the 'review' is just them rehashing the rulebook and saying I liked it.
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Cadae
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Research!

Too many reviews contain rules mistakes, misconceptions, and misunderstandings about what experience the game is trying to deliver.
So visit the game’s page, forum and anywhere else relevant to get some background information. What do players generally like about the game? What do they dislike? What are the best player counts? Does it start out strong but lacks replayability? Or does it take several plays to “get it”?

I’m not saying don’t have your own opinion. But please have an informed opinion.
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Craig Fox
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Effectively, a review has one job: to help people decide whether to buy a game or not. For that, you relevant information (gameplay, your reactions to various components, overall "feel", etc) to be the bulk of your review, and little or no irrelevant information (hyperbole, ranting).

So you want accurate gameplay descriptions - no mistakes. Stick to "I" statements - "I don't like X", not "X is stupid and ruining the hobby". Never insult other gamers. Leave words like "fanboys" and "haters" aside. Finally, if you haven't played the game much (e.g. once) be aware of the limits of your overall understanding, and think twice before declaring something to be broken. Many "impossible" situations found from playing a game once actually have solutions.

If you can do that, even a negative review won't attract the derision that is often expected.
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I recognise I'm in the minority, but I don't read reviews to help me decide whether or not to buy a game. I read reviews because I like games, I like thinking about games, I like engaging with thoughts about games, I like discussion about design, I like thinking about how games tick, and I like being entertained. Many of my favourite reviewers don't actually tend to review games that I'm interested in buying, or even in many cases playing - but they are good reads nonetheless, and broaden my understanding of the gaming world. I don't think any of them are prone to ranting or hyperbole, but, that can be entertaining (and still informative, if you do it well).

Sure, if they've reviewed something I'm interested in, that's a bonus, and will give me an excellent idea of what to expect. But I tend to use a fairly well curated geekbuddy list plus user comments to make those decisions.
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Brendan Slade
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You want to talk about what you like/don't like about the game and why that is.

For example I don't like Scythe because it takes a long time and I only have a short time to play games is a lot more useful than just I don't like Scythe.
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Per Glöde
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One of the reviewers mentioned so far is actually banned from posting in BGG. Not so positive! I do not write who it is, because I will not steer any attention to him.
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mortego
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@OP: just curious, why do you want to be a board game reviewer?
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gaaloechild wrote:
One of the reviewers mentioned so far is actually banned from posting in BGG. Not so positive! I do not write who it is, because I will not steer any attention to him.
What people do/say on an internet forum several years in the past can probably be separated from the quality of their reviews, I should think. Lots of positive stuff to be said about thoughtful writing about games.

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Alex Huggett
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My advice is, know why you're writing, know your audience, and find your own angle. There's no point saying what everyone else is saying - you may as well just repost there's. I write for a very small target audience, mostly of non-gamers to help them become familiar with games at our games night. I also find I really enjoy it, so even though I only have a double-digit readership, it's not a problem for me.
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Dave Lartigue
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gaaloechild wrote:
One of the reviewers mentioned so far is actually banned from posting in BGG.
So what?
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Dave Lartigue
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What is your purpose in writing a review? If it's to be a data point in helping someone decide to buy a game, remember that your audience here seldom needs much of any encouragement to buy things. A game's mere existence is sufficient.

Many reviews are designed to help people separate the wheat from the chaff, but at this point in the hobby it's pretty much a chaff-based economy.
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Matt Brown
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leelee220 wrote:
- 1-10 rating (your opinion)
Similar to BGG rankings, this doesn't say much about who it works for which is what people really want to hear.
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Matt Brown
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gaaloechild wrote:
One of the reviewers mentioned so far is actually banned from posting in BGG. Not so positive! I do not write who it is, because I will not steer any attention to him.
To be fair, calandale once was as well.
 
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