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Subject: The 232nd Edition of the TGIF Poll rss

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Ben Lott
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If you want updates on when new TGIF polls are posted, or want to look at the results of past polls go to The TGIF Poll Subscription Thread.

Poll: The 232nd TGIF Poll
How many games (and expansions) have you posted reviews for on BGG?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
0
47.7% 146
1 - 5
34.3% 105
6 - 10
7.8% 24
11 - 15
2.3% 7
16 - 20
0.7% 2
21 - 25
2.3% 7
26 - 30
0.0% 0
31 - 35
0.0% 0
36 - 40
0.7% 2
41 - 45
0.0% 0
46 - 50
0.3% 1
51+
3.9% 12
Voters 306
How frequently do you read/watch other users' game reviews?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
All the time
9.8% 30
Frequently
38.2% 117
Sometimes
37.6% 115
Rarely
13.1% 40
Never
1.3% 4
Voters 306
Do you ever read/watch reviews of games you already own?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
All the time
5.2% 16
Frequently
21.4% 66
Sometimes
47.1% 145
Rarely
21.1% 65
Never
5.2% 16
Voters 308
This poll is now closed.   309 answers
Poll created by Blott
Closes: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:00 am


4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?

Any discussion is encouraged.
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Tom O'K
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Quote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


For me, I prefer reviews with very little information about the rules. I'm mainly interested in more subjective approaches. I want to know what kind of feelings the gameplay gets across (is it tense? goofy? competitive? thinky?). I also want some assessment of the pace, the replay value, strategic depth and ease of entry. Comparisons to other games are helpful, too. Finally, I want to see a clear statement of the reviewers overall opinion on the game.
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Joe Huber

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Blott wrote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


Giving the reader the information they need to decide for themselves if the game is worth seeking out for that reader.

There are other things I like to see - I really appreciate humor in reviews, and enjoy when a review writer gets creative with the form. I hate detailed rules explanations - when I write reviews for Herb Levy, he nearly always has to ask me to extend my brief description of the rules - but so long as a review gives me the information I need in order to make my decision, it's OK in my book.

One of my favorite reviews was Mike Siggins review of For Sale. It seemed negative to me, but suggested that the game might be a good one for me. Years later, I mentioned this to Mike - only to discover that the review wasn't _meant_ to be negative. Which, in my mind, is perfect - I got out of the review the important matter (if I should try it), regardless of not understanding Mike's personal opinion.
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teabo wrote:
Quote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


For me, I prefer reviews with very little information about the rules. I'm mainly interested in more subjective approaches. I want to know what kind of feelings the gameplay gets across (is it tense? goofy? competitive? thinky?). I also want some assessment of the pace, the replay value, strategic depth and ease of entry. Comparisons to other games are helpful, too. Finally, I want to see a clear statement of the reviewer's overall opinion on the game.


That pretty much sums up what I would have said. The only thing I would add is about the game rules: I'd like to know if there's something unusual about them, like if there's an interesting way to determine the starting player, or if the rules somehow reflect or tie-in to the theme well (or not at all).

I'd also like to know what sort of group the reviewer thinks that game would appeal to -- families, your nerdy friends, serious gamers, or more socially-oriented groups, and so forth -- and is it because of the theme or the game play or what.
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I've posted 7 reviews so far. (Click here for the list) There are a few more I'd like to get to eventually, but the time I'd like to spend on them hasn't been there.

I read reviews for games that I'm subscribed to (whether I own them or not) or that I'm interested in pretty frequently.

Only very rarely do I watch video reviews, and then I tend to skip through much of them. Watching them while at work isn't an option at all, but even given a choice I'd much rather spend 5 minutes to read the review myself than to sit for 20+ minutes listening to someone ramble on in a video.

Blott wrote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?

1) A quick overview of the rules. You don't need to go into such fine detail that the reader will know 100% how to play the game when they're done, but cover enough to get through the basics and anything else that's truly important.

2) A good description of the components. Pictures certainly help with this, but don't let a picture do all of the work for you.

3) Details on how it plays. How smoothly does it play, how well does it keep you interested, how long does it take (would it be better longer/shorter), how much downtime is there, how much player interaction is involved, what other games are similar, etc. Don't just say that the game is "fun and fast-paced", because that's useless.

4) A good conclusion that wraps up the whole thing into a nice little package. The longer the rest of the review is, the more important this is because walls of text can often get skipped or skimmed.

5) Proper spelling and grammar. If it looks like the writer slopped a review together on their phone it's a waste of everyone's time. No one is perfect, but at least put some effort into making it look decent. You don't need to write the whole thing in a single sitting. Save it to your desktop or something and come back to it later instead of posting it immediately.
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Matt Clark
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I have not done any reviews and I really don't see myself contributing in that way. The only exception that I can think of is if there was a game out there that I felt passionately about that wasn't already thoroughly reviewed. I do watch/read quite a few reviews and I will watch/read reviews of games I already own.

4. I don't mind rules discussion or playing through some stuff as long as it's kept within a reasonable length (10-20 min for video). I am mostly interested in watching/reading reviews where the reviewer clearly has an opinion and can describe the experience of the game and why they feel the way they do.

I feel as though I get the most out of reviews where I have a (somewhat) good idea of what the reviewer likes and dislikes. An example would be that I can watch/read an indifferent review from someone who I know doesn't like the dreaded "dry, economic euro" and be able to tell that the game would appeal to me as long as the reviewer covers the game experience thoroughly.
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Will Colton
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Blott wrote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


Generally I will scan a bunch of reviews quickly in order to get a sense of what various opinions of the game are. Therefore, an essential component of reviews I read is scanability. Things like bullet lists of positives and negatives or a review conclusion/summary are excellent.

Of course, I am new enough to the hobby that I generally read about games with a bunch of reviews already. But even if it is a new game or a less popular game with very few reviews, my frenetic mind prefers something I can just scan over quickly and move on.
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Kirk Groeneweg
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What do I consider essential?
Video Reviews: Time. I really appreciate reviews that can give me a good flavor and overview of a game in 10 to 15 minutes. I don't need a turn by turn analysis of a game. I want an overview of the game, what's the basic idea, how it works from a high level and what the reviewer thinks are the pluses and minuses of a game.
Most of the time, if it's more than 15 minutes, I won't watch it.

Written Reviews: I tend to gravitate towards video reviews. I'm a visual person and get more from them. Although, I do appreciate a well written review that has pictures to help explain what they are talking about. I have a bad habit of "skimming".
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Mike Jones
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Blott wrote:
...
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?...


I like short reviews that get to the point on what they like and don't like about a game with minimal rehash of the rulebook.
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Blott wrote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?

I actually like reviews that go into detail on the rules. It helps me gauge how easy it will be to teach others and if the game has mechanics that I do or don't like.

But really, the biggest thing I look for is pros and cons. What did the reviewer like, and just as importantly, not like. The best reviews have both elements. If it's all good or all bad, it comes off as just being too biased and not deep enough.
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I've written 13 reviews so far (the most popular still being for Wasabi) - and really need to get back into it. I did find it enjoyable, but it takes some time to include all I think is essential - like a summary of gameplay and an analysis of the various parts and overall feel.

I sometimes read other reviews - more often for a game I'm considering buying, but also fairly regularly for a new game I just got where I feel more info would be helpful. That especially happens when we run into some stumbling blocks in the first play.
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I, very rarely, read reviews anymore. I never watch reviews.

In my view, it seems like the reviews now go into more about how to play the game with heavy rule review, how it looks, how the bits are nifty, stuff like that. These reviews become very bloated and long, in my opinion, and miss the point which is "Is the game good and did they like it and why".

When the reviews are long, I don't want to bother taking the time to read it.

I read comments. There are numerous people who add very good comments to the games. They are not long, give the detail, and because I use my geekbuddy list for mostly this reason, I get a really good feel for how and what certain buddies like (and how it relates to my likes).

I get this feeling that Geekmod denies reviews that are short and succinct or are without pictures. I know from personal experience that my session reports started getting denied because of length. Thankfully,they have Blogs now. No more being modded by the masses.
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bop517 wrote:
...

When the reviews are long, I don't want to bother taking the time to read it.

I read comments. There are numerous people who add very good comments to the games. They are not long, give the detail, and because I use my geekbuddy list for mostly this reason, I get a really good feel for how and what certain buddies like (and how it relates to my likes).

I get this feeling that Geekmod denies reviews that are short and succinct or are without pictures. I know from personal experience that my session reports started getting denied because of length. Thankfully,they have Blogs now. No more being modded by the masses.


YES, 3 to 5 paragraphs MAX.

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When I write reviews, I do the following because that's the kind of review I like to read:

1. Introduction: Introduce the game and its theme/premise.

2. Components: Talk about the box, parts, board, cards, etc. and whether they have an effect on gameplay.

3. Gameplay: Briefly explain the game mechanics and any rules that contribute heavily to the game's flavor.

4. My Thoughts/Pros and Cons: A brief list of things I like, things I don't like, and my take on the game. What I thought was great, what needs improvement, what was too complex, etc etc.

5. Conclusion: My verdict. Usually a simple I like it/I didn't like it, a brief explanation of why, who should buy it, and a rating out of 10.

EDIT: My reviews can be lengthy but I compartmentalize for the TL;DR/ADD crowd so they can just skip to the conclusion if they want.
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1 - Apparently I've done more than 80. I didn't realize I had that many, especially since I haven't done one in a long while. Lately I've been sticking to games I acquire that the majority of big name reviewers will neglect, or that haven't received a review that matches my impressions.

2 - At this point I rarely read other users' reviews. I hear about most new games on the podcasts I listen to, and I don't really buy that many new games anyways.

3 - I have in the past, but I never do it nowadays. I suppose if someone posted a review with a really provocative title I might check it out, but that's going to be the exception rather than the rule.

4 - I want to know how the game feels when you play. I want the reviewer's opinion. I don't want to know how to play the game. I tire of reading that detail after one paragraph. Besides with so many rulebooks posted online, I could look up the information myself anyways. So the important part is what it was about the game that the reviewer found unique or interesting. In other words, why did they like it/dislike it. Reviews should never be objective.
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I'm interested in the reviewer's opinion on how the game works, is it fun, what kind of experience did their group have, would they play it again. Sadly I find that this is often nothing more than a few sentences at the end of what is a long and detailed explanation of rules and mechanics. I don't need a detailed rules explanation but if there is an aspect to the rules that are bit tricky or complicated then some clarification is good.

I can download and read the rules myself, there are a lot of folks here who play more games than me and I respect their opinion and that's what I want to hear.
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Quote:
What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


Thoughtful analysis of the game. I don't want just an opinion,
I want to understand (at least) the WHY they feel the way they do.

This is not a line or two at the end of a rules summary. I like
the summary; but I generally just jump through it to get a feel
for what the overall flavor of the design is. For something to be
a review though, it has to be about what makes the game stand out
(or not).
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Blott wrote:


4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?

Any discussion is encouraged.


I find the best reviews are the ones that are able to list the pros and the cons of a game. Every game has them (usually more from one category than the other). I think whether or not you like the game, a critical reviewer can see points from both sides of the coin. It shows there is some balance in the review.
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I've done 79 game and expansion reviews so far (blatant plug - A Year With My Games). And I have 3 more this month to do.

I like reviews that give you a quick overview of how it plays, and what the review thinks are some of the good/bad points of the mechanics.

I try to do that, though I don't use pictures, so following along can be a little confusing. I'm not very writer-oriented, but I have a few followers that like my work, and it brings in some geekgold.
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An essential element of reviews for me is that they be written, preferably with pictures. I'm not interested in watching the Tom Vasels of the world fidget about for ten minutes just to tell me that "If you like games, you're gonna like this game."
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I mostly review wargames. I do cover rules, but I think those are required to explain how the game flows. I don't do a complete rules rehash, and I don't want to, but I think it's good to give a sense of how the game goes.

I also usually have a few pictures to show off the components or a game in play.
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I have reviewed one wargame (after only one play, but it didn't have any reviews yet, and I made it clear in the review). I don't do more mainly as there are others out there who quickly review new games, and I largely don't feel like I need to add yet another. I also feel like I need to play a game a few times to get a good feel for it, but a lot of my new games take quite a while before I get them played that often (if at all).

I have done about 12 session reports, which isn't that many, but certainly more than my reviews.

I do still read reviews - it's one of my main ways of becoming informed about new games that I'm considering. I don't watch many video reviews, as I always feel like I want to fast forward 'em.

I will read reviews of games I own that I find interesting, or of new games I've purchased (to check if the initial reviews are holding up). I also am just interested in what other folks like/dislike about games I have strong opinions about.



As for what makes a good review for me - I'll agree it's largely about fun and how it plays. I am interested in knowing about new or interesting ways of implementing new mechanics, etc. I like an overview of the game components and rules - I don't mind a fuller rules explanation as long as I can skip ahead if I already am familiar with it.
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I have not posted any reviews and I mainly at this point watch reviews to help me with how a game works visually. I am not good at learning a game right from the rulebook. I do read reviews sometimes and focus on the why they liked/disliked the game play, with a complete skip over the rules regurgation.

I do look at my geekbuddy COMMENTS on a game all the time. Some people are on my geekbuddy list because their comments are often more useful than a review. Others are on my geekbuddy list because our likes/dislikes match up. And yet others are on my geekbuddy list because our likes/dislikes don't often match up.

If there is NOT a large enough sample among my geekbuddies, then I look at the comments for all gamers for a game and look at the spectrum (high and low) to see why they did or did not like a game when a rating is attached.
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Blott wrote:

4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?
Any discussion is encouraged.


I watch or read reviews to learn how a person feels about the game. Did they enjoy it? Why? Did they hate it? Why? If they skip the why part, then I skip their reviews. A concise review about the game would be a huge positive. I know that play sessions are not necessary reviews, but those are always fun to read.

I would love to write a review about games I own or played extensively, but my English is mediocre and sometimes what I try to convey, becomes nonsense.
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Quote:
4. What do you consider the essential elements of a game review?


An overview of the flow of the game. What the reviewer likes/dislikes about the game and why (very important). Comparisons to other games can be nice.
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