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Subject: Voice of Experience 2.0 Review Contest - Prizes! rss

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Martin G
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Welcome!

Hello, and welcome to the second annual Voice of Experience Review Contest. This contest is modelled on JohnRayJr’s New Voices contest but its goal is different. While that contest aims to encourage new reviewers, the aim of this one is to promote critical commentary on board games. Like last time, we’re looking for reviews based on multiple plays (that’s the ‘experience’ part) but this time there’s a new twist!

Users new and old, patrons and non-patrons, lurkers and site celebs are all invited to participate. If you are not inclined, or just too busy, but still appreciate well-written content about boardgames, you can support this contest in a number of ways listed at the bottom of this thread. Anyone can get involved, and everyone is encouraged to.

Goals and Participation

Like the first VoE contest, the aims are:

• to promote critical analysis of board games that goes beyond a summary of the rules, pictures of the components and a brief opinion of the game;
• to encourage in-depth exploration of games in a community that tends to be dominated by first impressions.

To make this a little different from last time, for this contest we’re going to focus on the simpler side of gaming – the fillers, gateways, family and party games that don’t often receive a critical look. We hope this will make it even harder to rely on simply explaining the rules, and prompt reviewers to think about what else makes a good or bad gaming experience beyond the game mechanics.

So, for Voice of Experience 2.0:
• you must review a game you have played at least ten times (like last time)
• your chosen game must also have a BGG ‘weight’ of 2.0 or lower.

Otherwise, it's completely open.

Prizes!

Prizes are available in three types:

Grand Prize: 100GG
Silver Prizes: 30GG
Bronze Prizes: 10GG

The number of prizes awarded will scale with participation, with 10 contestants being the minimum necessary for launch:

10-14 users: 1 Grand, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze
15-19 users: 1 Grand, 3 Silver, 6 Bronze
20-24 users: 1 Grand, 4 Silver, 8 Bronze
25-29 users: 1 Grand, 5 Silver, 10 Bronze
30+ users: 1 Grand, 6 Silver, 12 Bronze

We hope to also be able to offer a few games as prizes, subject to sponsorship offers

Submissions

• Games reviewed for this contest must be published and ranked. This is to ensure that there’s some chance the readers and judges have heard of the games. This time around, they must also have a BGG weight of 2.0 or less.
• To sign up, simply post a comment to this thread that begins with I'm in!. Once you have chosen a game to review, you can also add an entry to the contest geeklist, where you will post a link to your final review when it’s ready.
• Reviews may be submitted any time before the final deadline of Wednesday, 31st July.
• Feel free to comment in this thread as soon as your review has been submitted to geekmod. Everyone subscribed to this thread is encouraged to mod submissions. Let's help these reviews hit the front page running.
• Be sure to post a link in your geeklist entry once your review has passed geekmod.
• Contestants must include the tag "[Voice of Experience 2.0]" at the beginning of the review’s title. This will help draw attention to your review and raise the contest’s overall visibility. Feel free to remove the tag once the contest has ended.
• This thread will function as the contest discussion thread. Comments, questions, constructive feedback, general anticipation, digital high-fives, and friendly discussion are all encouraged from contestants and supporters alike. Let’s keep this thread active.
• Winners will be announced by the end of August. Aside from that, ranking of submissions will be kept private.
• Once prizes are announced, a separate announcement thread will be created and linked from a reserved reply-space below.

The Judges

• Submissions to this contest will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Each of these individuals was asked to participate because I admire their writing and because they have shown an interest in exploring games in depth and raising the level of critical discourse in the community. Four judges return from the first VoE contest, and two new judges join.
• Each judge has provided some insight into what they look for in reviews, available below.
• Links have also been provided to a review from each judge as well as some reviews they highly recommend.
• Here are the judges, presented alphabetically by username:

Jack
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United States
Indiana
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A review from Jack: A Look at Wallace's Quirky Keeper
Recommendation: So What's Not To Like?

I love a good review. Invariably, reviews that capture my attention are ones that follow some or all of this advice:
• Be substantive and insightful. Get inside the game and show us what’s so engaging about it.
• Be specific, and connect your opinion of the game with how it works. Readers should be able to determine if the game fits their preferences and style, even if they don’t share yours.
• Be organized. Choose a clear structure and support it with clean formatting. Think about how you want to lay out the information. Make sure that the most vital sections of your review are not lost amid a procedural, checklist style approach.
• Go in-depth. Get carried away.
• Above all, resist the temptation to describe your reaction to the game ("tons of fun!" "totally sucked!") without exploring the context that generated that reaction. You can get away with that among long-time friends who know you and know what you're really saying. We don't. So let's hear what all the fuss is about. Tell us not only the 'what' but also the 'why.'

Oliver
Oliver Kiley
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Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Oliver's blog: Big Game Theory!
A review from Oliver: Dynamic Balancing Acts - A Perspective on Ginkgopolis
Recommendation: I'm a Stoner

I look for a few key points to a good review:
• Provide a context for your review and/or the game. What drew you to the game, how many times have you played it, what other games are similar. Anything interesting about the history of the game?
• A concise rule synopsis. You don't need to rewrite the rules - just cover the criticial elements of how you win and the major actions/mechanics at work in the game.
• Examine the game from the standpoint of the audience. Who would like this kind of game? Who probably won't? What settings do I want to play this game in? What impact does the theme have on the experience?
• Focus your review on the "dynamics" in the game. What sorts of player interactions, tensions, and tough choices do players face? How does the decision space change over the course of the game? How do these dynamics create (or not create) a deep, rewarding, and replayable experience (or not).

If you are curious for more, check out a blog post following last year's VoE contest, An Armature for Critique.

Martin
Martin G
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Martin's blog: QWERTYUIOP
A review from Martin: Four hundred years of beautiful tradition, from Sir John Suckling to the USS Bremerton... you’re goddamn right I’m living in the past!
Recommendation: What, exactly, makes a human laugh? [review]

Like several of the other judges, I’m looking for pieces with a strong critical voice. The best reviews let me know who the reviewer is and where they’re coming from, so that I can judge whether their opinions are likely to dovetail with mine. I’m also looking for reviews based on real experience of a game, not just what’s in the box, what’s in the rules and how it played the first time round. What makes the game different? How did your opinion of it evolve? What types of decisions are involved? What skills do you need to do well?

I'm really excited to see the entries that our focus on simpler games generates. I sometimes feel there's a pereception on BGG that more complexity is necessarily a good thing, and that as gamers we should move up the difficulty ladder and leave simple pleasures behind. I reject that utterly! My hope is that removing the usual reviewers' crutch of a lengthy description of the mechanics will free us up to talk about what really makes these simpler games tick.

Samo
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Samo's blog: a work in progress (will get to it one day, honest)
A review from Samo: [Voice of Experience] Performative Co-op VS. Immersive Co-op, Comparison review of Pandemic and Arkham Horror
Recommendation: Once Upon a Time review

The heart of any review for me is an insight of a writer into the experience the work provides. A review is a dialogue between the writer and a game, between writer's gaming experience and entry points provided by the game. What I hope for VoE 2.0 to do is to force writers to throw away the crutches like description, opinion, back story, detailed strategies and so on and focus on the heart of the matter, which is not what the game is, but what the game does. What a game does is called gaming experience and questions arising are – how does the game create and shape gaming experience, how does it see its players and what does it expect from them? And what can a player can expect from a gaming experience with this game and what will the game try to make them do?

My personal preferences: I like (relatively) short, focused reviews that know what they want to say and how to say it. A good review respects its readers and guides them towards what it thinks is crucial while avoiding unnecessary detours and clutter. Organisation of the text will help a lot with getting your point across. What I care about is your insight, your take on what is going on within the gaming experience – descriptions are only to provide examples to your arguments. Do not try to impress, try to stun. Be daring. Let your thoughts fly.

Tom
Tom Shields
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Washington
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Recommendation: It's an Espionage Game - NOT an Abstract! (Or: How a Mediocre Abstract Became One of My Favorite Games)

We have a great deal of fine commentary that is concerned with the taxonomies of game mechanics and such. I value these commentaries and I sometimes do this myself: deconstruct games into parts, embrace or decry the evolution of deck building et. al., offer faux-objective analysis of a game's randomness... so on and so forth. But I find I am growing increasingly fond of subjective responses to games. And by subjective, I do not mean with less rigor or thoughtfulness, but a willingness to tackle the creative and communitarian successes and failures of games.

So, I am more attracted to metaphor rich language describing the effect of the game & its psychological realities rather than an iteration of the worker placement mechanic (and the necessary taxonomic argument that will surely follow). I want to stress that taxonomies & analytics are important, but that the subjective and holistic are equally necessary - and often much more communicative - in deepening the gaming events in our lives, and hopefully, deepening our lives period.

I am also growing more interested in talk of meaning. By this, I'm pointing toward writing that isn't afraid of passion or holism or event, that is reflective of the game beyond its mechanics, that looks at the gaming "above the table" so to speak. That considers questions like: What stayed with you, and why? Did you react with passion & a loss of self-consciousness... why? How does this experience open or close you, and to what? Why are you passionate about ... x mechanic or idea? After the game, do you feel closer or more distant to the other players?

As I grow into the hobby and gain confidence, I find I grow more appreciative of games with lower weight (I think of this as 'low overhead' in terms of rules & mechanics). Not exclusively nor stridently, and this whole topic can be quite nuanced, but I have learned complexity does not bespeak depth of play or quality of thought. So I'm very excited to learn more of lower weight games from our voices of experience.

Mark
Mark Taylor
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Mark's blog: Painted Wooden Cubes
A review from Mark: Upset the Rhythm: A Painted Wooden Cubes Review of 23
Recommendation: Skull & Roses review

When reading any game review, I want to have a sense of what happens in the game in question - on the table and between players. More than this, though, I want to know why it matters: I want to know what the game teaches, I want to know what emotions the game stimulates, I want to know what contribution the game in question makes to the board or card game medium at large.

With respect to this contest, I think there's a sense in which the voice of experience is more powerful when speaking about games which are simple at first sight. The more straightforward the rules of a game are, the more likely players are to assume that the pleasures and the purpose of the game in question should also be obvious - assumptions which are not necessarily fair. With lighter games more than with heavier ones, there can therefore be a need for instruction in how to approach a game in order to recognise its joys. I'd like to see reviews which use the benefits of experience to provide that kind of guidance.

Supporting This Contest

• Please subscribe to this thread and leave encouraging comments!
• Please watch this thread for links and watch the front page for tagged reviews.
• Any Geekgold tipped to this thread will go toward prizes.

Alright, folks. Let's do this! Go, go, go!!
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Martin G
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Frequently Asked Questions

0. How do I find out the 'weight' of a game?

It's listed as 'Avg. Game Weight' in the Statistics section of each game's page. For inspiration, here is a list of the top-ranked games with a weight of 2.0 or less.

1. Isn't 'weight' a totally ill-defined and arbitrary concept?

Yep! But we couldn't think of a better way to put the emphasis on simpler games without having people say "But my 5-year-old daughter can play 1830". And it made a cool contest title

2. Should I review games that the judges rate highly or have played?

You certainly may end up reviewing games that we like, dislike, have played, or haven’t. In any case, we will try our best not to be biased. I can’t speak for the other judges, but you’re not getting my vote for the grand prize just because you rate Tigris & Euphrates a 10.

3. Are video reviews eligible for this contest?

This contest is limited to written reviews only.

4. Are Thumbs Used In Any Way to Evaluate Submissions for this Contest?

No.

5. Can I submit my review in a language other than English?

I'd love for us to be able to evaluate reviews in any language, but unfortunately the six of us are limited to English as our common ground. Submissions will have to be English-only.

6. Does this contest extend to RPGGeek and VideoGameGeek?

This contest is boardgame-only.

7. Can I enter a review that predates this announcement?

No. All reviews must be written and posted between June 27th and July 31st.

8. Can one person enter multiple reviews in the contest?

No. One review per writer - more diversity!

9. Can I say "I'm in!" and then not submit anything (if anything stops me writing that review in the next month)?

Yes. Obviously we'd love it if everyone who enters follows through, but if you end up not having time, just let us know.

10. I was in the last Voice of Experience, can I join again?

Yes. This contest has no restriction on who can join in.

11. I don't feel completely comfortable being a "voice of experience" on a game, should I be worried about this?

No! We're not looking for expertise, we're looking for experience. As long as you've played 10 times and can speak competently about the game, you're good.

12. Is it possible to do a comparative review? (1 text, 2 games of same genre)

Yes.

13. I'm going to probably write more than one review and decide at some later point (before the deadline) which is my 'real' entry. I assume that's OK? I assume that I should use the tag before all such reviews?

Write as many reviews as you like but please only tag one entry with '[Voice of Experience]'.

14. Is it OK if I write a review of X? Someone else has already marked this as his.

Multiple reviews of the same game are fine.

15. Are expansions eligible?

Expansions of ranked games are fine if you have played at least 10 games with the expansion included.

**Note: I will update this area to answer questions asked below.
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Martin G
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Voice of Experience 2.0 Review Contest: Entries
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Martin G
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Voice of Experience 2.0 Review Contest - Results!
 
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Martin G
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ldsdbomber wrote:
what is the motivation for the weight rating?


It's explained several times in the announcement above
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Nate Straight

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Awww dang. I just started a review for a game weighted 2.1. *sad trombone*
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Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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What the hey, let's see if I can use my powers for good rather than evil.

I'm in!
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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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Fascinating, I'm in.

B>
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Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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I'm in.
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Original Dibbler
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NateStraight wrote:
Awww dang. I just started a review for a game weighted 2.1. *sad trombone*


I would have prefered < 2.5, too.
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Jimmy Okolica
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I'm in... now let's see if any games I like are rated less than 2.0
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Martin G
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
I'm in... now let's see if any games I like are rated less than 2.0


Divinare for one
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Jimmy Okolica
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qwertymartin wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
I'm in... now let's see if any games I like are rated less than 2.0


Divinare for one


Yeah, but you already reviewed it and I'm honestly not sure I could improve upon it. I've actually got a bunch that are 2.0 or less (including two that are 2.0).

Interestingly, all but three of them are card games. Any thoughts on that?
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Martin G
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
Interestingly, all but three of them are card games. Any thoughts on that?


I've noticed that too. I suspect there's a tendency to give low weight-ratings to games that have a) simple components and b) randomness.
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Avri
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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I'm in! Thinking of reviewing the PnP gem, Punch!
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Caleb
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Seminole
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NateStraight wrote:
Awww dang. I just started a review for a game weighted 2.1. *sad trombone*


Just get a bunch of friends to change their rating to 1 to lower the average.
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Martin G
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cannoneer wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Awww dang. I just started a review for a game weighted 2.1. *sad trombone*


Just get a bunch of friends to change their rating to 1 to lower the average.


I did think about this a couple of days ago. I wasn't going to mention it though
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Markus
Finland
Helsinki
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I'm in! Reviewing Dixit.
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EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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Orangevale
CA
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How's about I'm in for Qwixx
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Tom Williamson
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London
Greater London
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I'm in - currently thinking Court of the Medici or Battle Line but that will no doubt change!
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Samo Oleami
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And we're on-line! laugh

Butterfly0038 wrote:
I'm in... now let's see if any games I like are rated less than 2.0


Hate is fine as well. I personally don't mind.
"This game is too bloody light - a negative review"
"No meat on these bones, carnivores look elsewhere"
"You say game, I say activity"
cool

Butterfly0038 wrote:
Yeah, but you already reviewed it and I'm honestly not sure I could improve upon it.


Best reviews from last year (for me) had completely original insights. They added to the discussion about a game not by providing something more, but my adding another, different viewpoint. If there's a game you think about often and it intrigues you (sometimes because you're amazed how great it is, sometimes because it should be great, yet isn't quite) that's the one to pick.
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Christopher Birkbeck
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Montreal
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It's temping to go drop 60+ bucks to get Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age and King of Tokyo to play them out, I'll probably just go an write up on Biblios.
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Pablo Schulman
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Belo Horizonte
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Can I review a game if I only played it online against an A.I. ? Probably this is too much, but with this conditions I may be able to submit one review. I can probably play a few times in real life as well but it depends on how long it's the competition. (Grad school is killing me)
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Geoff Burkman
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Kettering
Ohio
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I'm likely in, depending on what spare time I can find from focusing on the show I'm directing.
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Geki
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Providence
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I am likely in for Roma
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