New Game Submission Guideline
| The information on this page has been formalized and condensed into the current BGG Guide to Game Submissions. This page represents an old Question-and-Answer format to clarify some policies, but is no longer updated and does not necessarily reflect accurate information about current site policy for game submissions. Please refer to BGG Guide to Game Submissions for current policy on game submissions, or message an admin for more information.
Video Tutorial: http://www.screencast.com/users/skelebone/folders/Jing/media/a63ef33e-c79b-409a-a82a-bf9aa0dac09b
The purpose of this New Game Submission Guideline is to publish the guidelines used in determining whether a game submission will be accepted. Here are some of the concerns of the stakeholders in new game submissions:
- Want accurate information about the game.
- Want entries of games that have the same rules and only differ by name or theme combined into one entry in the database.
- Disprefer mere "shells" of game entries. [Knowing only the name, publisher, and year of a game doesn't tell people much]
- Want administration to be as streamlined as possible.
- Want the database to include only games that are "within the scope" of BGG. See Game Criteria. Some examples of being "outside the scope" can be read here: Outside the Scope of BGG
Users of the Game Entry
- Want accurate information about the game.
- Want minimal noise in the ratings.
- If there are multiple similar games or versions of the same game that are different enough to warrant significantly different ratings, it can unduly reduce the rating of a good game because of its evil predecessor or successor, or elevate the rating of a bad game.
- Example: Bohnanza's initial release from Amigo was for 3-5 players. They also published Al Cabohne, which is another bean game for 1-2 players, that has a similar structure to the game, but with very significant differences. Even with the ratings noise in Bohnanza, it still rates a good 12% higher than Al Cabohne, so one would argue that Al Cabohne is significantly worse than Bohnanza. Rio Grande's release of Bohnanza includes the 2-player rules from Al Cabohne, as well as the rules and a modified set of the cards from the first edition of the first expansion from Amigo, which extends the number of players from 3-5 to 2-7. Thus, one must suspect that people who have only played it as a 2-player game would give it an Al Cabohne rating. Similarly, those who have only played with 6-7 would give it a Bohnanza Erweiterungs-Set rating. Now, someone considering buying the Amigo release no longer has a rating of 3-5 player Bohnanza without sifting through 4,495 ratings for those that are likely to be applicable.
- Want BoardGameGeek to be the definitive encyclopedia of board, card, and table games.
- If I see a game for cheap on eBay or in a shop:
- I want to find out what the game is about
- I want to know what people think of it.
- I want to see more, better, and more representative photographs than what I can see on the eBay listing.
- If a game has been published and distributed, I expect to find it on BGG.
- BGG is often the only repository for small-release, or self-published games.
The User Submitting the Game
Wants an interactive denial process.
- Obviously wants the submission to be approved.
- If it truly is a duplicate of another game of which the user is ignorant, access to the information she submitted would be helpful, so she can update the existing entry to include any missing information.
- Skelebone: This is a problem, and I will put it on the list of items to be covered in the re-write of the admin interface.
Wants more power to submit new games, yet not let the misinformation from people who know very little about a game supercede the information from people who are quite intimate with its details. [It's a Catch-22.]
- If I've spent half an hour crafting a game submission, and all I get in response is a terse We're sorry that we couldn't use the recent game submission that you entered into BGG, and it was removed from the system. Reason: Duplicate Entry, I am going to be frustrated, especially if I think the Admins have misunderstood the situation.
- Skelebone: Under the most recent re-write of the interface, I now have a button to customize messages to users, and when I deny a game for duplication, I will cite the game that the submission duplicates.
- If the submission is denied because there is insufficient information, I would want to have a chance to provide more information and try again. This is especially true if I own the game, and can provide all the photographs and information there are to be had!
- Skelebone: The amount of information required for games is on a sliding scale. New releases demand more information in their initial game entry, while older games can slide with less. All entry submissions and descriptions must be viewed as though they would stand on their own with no further editing nor contribution, which is the actual case for some obscure games or small publisher efforts. A game entry that says "The new war game by Richard Borg" doesn't help anyone who doesn't have prior knowledge of the game, but even a brief discussion of the game's theme, core mechanisms, gameplay, and/or win conditions does.
Wants to know the submission grading system, so as not to waste her time submitting something with a 3% chance of approval.
- Skelebone: This is addressed somewhat by the Wiki system as well as Submit Corrections; if a game makes it through the submission mill with incomplete or imperfect information, users may edit the game's description to make it more accurate, or may submit corrections to address authors, publishers, mechanisms, categories, players, ages, and time.
Wants consistent criteria applied to different submissions. (Examples: Monopoly re-themes get new entries while Bohnanza is combined into one).
- Skelebone: At present, my criteria for approving games do not exist other than in my head and what I describe in this article. I plan to write up a list of criteria soon and link it to this entry.
- Skelebone: Monopoly Fiat -- when Aldie started the database, he wanted Monopoly themes to remain separate, but that is the only game where different themed versions of the same game get different entries. Even the UNO entries have a "What makes this different" line, and if they are not different then they are added as alternate names to the main game. This type of delineation should be applied to other themed games.
- Skelebone: There is an effort to split apart games that are very similar but do have significant differences between them and to reserve merger only for games that are exactly the same. For example, Thebes and Jenseits von Theben are separated from one another, though they play very similarly, and indeed one is developed from the other.
Criteria Considered for Submissions
|To do: BGG Admins, please flesh out this section. Thank you!
Skelebone's short version:
1. Submit as much of the header information that you can, e.g. designer, publisher, year, age, time, et c. If something from the header information lacking, I'm not going to kick an entry, but I might look at the rest of the queue to see if someone else submitted the item with more-complete information.
2. Description is paramount. Virtually without exception, all declines are due to a lacking description. As I send in the decline message -- More information is needed. A good game description covers theme, game-play, and goal. Please elaborate and re-submit. (Emphasis added). The game description should be a 1-2 paragraph synopsis of the game.
More detailed info:
- A game with no information at all in one of the sections will be considered as follows.
- Skelebone: The primary category of concern is the description. A good description for a newly-released game will consist of at least a paragraph and will cover what the game is about theme-wise, how the game plays, what mechanisms are used, and perhaps even what the victory conditions are. Additionally, the description may discuss the contents of the game box, but that is extra, and a components list alone does not a game description make.
- Voids in other categories like mechanisms, designer, publisher, year, players, and game time are taken into consideration as a whole, but usually will not cause the denial of a game with a sufficient description.
- Older games (e.g. more than 5-10 years old) can slide with lesser information, just so they are included in the database; as with new game entries, the more information included, the better. An unacceptable description for an older game might be "The box has a picture of a cowboy on it" where an acceptable description might be "An old roll-and-move game about cattle rustling"
- I especially disapprove of "site-scrapes" where data about a new game is released on the publisher's webpage or on BoardGameNews.com, and the submitting user has merely cut-and-pasted the information directly from the site, and where no information or insight about the game is given.
- A retheming of a game in the database, but with insignificant differences to the rules and components will be denied.
- Several games that have been combined into one package, but are otherwise the same as the original games will be denied, with exceptions.
- Example: Carcassonne, Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals, Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders, Carcassonne: Expansion 3 – The Princess & The Dragon, Carcassonne: Expansion 4 – The Tower -> Carcassonne Big Box
- Skelebone: Carcassonne Big Box did not get a separate entry, nor did the Carcassonne Limited Edition, nor did El Grade: Decennial.
- Example: The Settlers of Catan, The Cities & Knights of Catan -> CATAN 3D Collector's Edition (no new rules here; in fact, the rulebook is written like a summary that assumes you already know how to play, and just needed a refresher - you can't actually learn how to play the C&K from this incomplete "rulebook")
- Skelebone: This one is kept by fiat
- Counter-example: Bohnaparte, Dchingis Bohn -> Bohnaparte: Liberté! Egalité! Bohnité! (uses parts of both, the name of the first, but A + B > C and yet C has more of certain parts than A and B combined, as well as rules adjustments)
- One game has been split into multiple packages, but is otherwise the same as the original game will be considered.
- Example?: Icehouse (Now sold as smaller Treehouse sets)
- Skelebone: This is a tricky example, because Icehouse and Treehouse are game components which can be used to play several games (like N/A which contains the same pieces, and could be used to play either of the aforementioned games, but has its own rule-set). But, in this instance, Icehouse and Treehouse have their own separate rule sets, though a set of one could be used to play the other.
- A rather different incarnation of the game was released with the same name. The new game will be accepted.
- Skelebone: This is consistent with having different versions of games listed as different entries, e.g. Twilight Imperium, or Blood Bowl editions.
- There is a totally different game entry that happens to have the same name. The new game will be accepted.
- Skelebone: Games are deemed separate based on rules and mechanisms. Even two games by the same designer with the same theme and same name, but with different rules and mechanisms will be deemed two different games.
- Expansions for collectible-card-games (CCGs) or collectible-miniatures-games (CMGs). The new expansion will be denied.
- Skelebone: In games where components are distributed on a random basis through booster-packs, expansions are regarded as an extension of the randomness of the base-game, as no buyer can be certain of gaining any particular cards or miniatures on a particular buy.
- A travel version of a game. The new game will be denied.
- Skelebone: A travel version is deemed to be the same game as the full version unless there are differences in the rules or gameplay. Merely making a board larger or smaller does not make a different game.
- Counter-example: (All the games play differently)
- The original Aggravation is a six-player Pachisi derivative with shortcuts and one super-shortcut.
- Split-Level Aggravation splits the board into two levels, alters the rules for shortcuts, and introduces rules for switching levels.
- Super Aggravation adds two types card-draw spaces to the original game, and two decks of cards.
- Travel Aggravation reduces the number of players to four, making its Pachisi roots even more evident.
- The game has profanity in the title will be accepted, though the title may be edited.
- Example: Up Against The Wall, Motherf*****!
- Skelebone: Not too many of these in the database, but titles with profanity may be edited like the above example as not to offend family sensibilities. The actual unedited title will appear as an alternate name for the game. This provision is for when and if games with profanity appear in the "Hot Games" list (as this one did, which is exactly what led to its title edit.)
- A book that contains the rules for numerous games will be considered.
- A book about a game will be considered, but probably declined.
- Example: INVALID OBJECT ID=27381, type=thing
- Skelebone: Generally, books about games are not approved, especially "How to play..." or "Get better at..." type books. Those are reserved for the bookstore instead of a game database.
- Skelebone: The preferred handling for books is for the individual games to be listed, rather than the book.
- Games developed for game systems will be considered.
- Example: Icehouse games, such as IceTowers
- Example: Piecepack games, such as Piece Packing Pirates
- Example: Stonehenge games
- Example: Games for a standard deck of cards
- Example: Games using other standard equipment, such as a chess board
- Skelebone: I'm still working on definitive criteria for this one. Generally, I have accepted new Piecepack and Icehouse/Treehouse games, and I haven't seen any Stonehenge games other than those included in the retail box.
- I generally have no issue with inclusion of standard card deck games, especially as with the depth of the database. Based on a recent assessment, I calculated ~600 games on Pagat.com, and the BGG database comprises ~33,000 games, including at least 400-600 of the known Monopoly versions.
- To me this issue is a little tricky when it comes to considering different entries for game packages that contain multiple games, including the suggested Stonehenge, or a game like Rome that includes three different games in one package.
- Game systems themselves will be accepted.
- Example: Icehouse, though this entry could be construed as referring to the game Icehouse, which uses Icehouse Pieces. (Looney Labs has striven to market Icehouse Pieces as a game, in a playable form. These forms have ranged from 4-color (each 5× 1,2,3) sets with rules for several games, to 5-color (each 1× 1,2,3) Treehouse sets that come with a die.)
- Example: Piecepack - a standard piecepack, like a standard deck of cards, is not a game in itself.
- Example: Miscellaneous Game Accessory, which is just a bunch of components commonly found in American mass-market games.
- Example: Orion - as published in 1971, it came with rules for 15 games using different aspects of its components.
- Skelebone: I will generally approve these, though these entries would suffer from some of the trickiness of the above item.
Room for Improvement
There's always room for improvement. The following is a list of ideas from us, the community. Yes, that includes you. Add your ideas here!
- A user submitting a new game could bid a count of the number of distinctive photos she could provide once it's added. If the count is not met with approved photos (not necessarily from that same user - we want the content; we don't care who provides it) during, say, the next week, then that game entry could be purged. This could be supplemented by a visible countdown on the game's page that states that if it doesn't receive X photos in the next Y days, it will be deleted automatically.
- Skelebone: Though photos of games are important for completeness of the database, they really don't come into the equation in my consideration of whether to approve or deny a game. As I state above, my primary concern on the game submission is description and accompanying information
- Perhaps something like GeekMod for game submissions.
- Skelebone: This idea has been vetoed, especially in light of all of the controversy that arises with GeekMod of pictures.
- An unfortunate fact of life is that component quality is a factor in game enjoyment, so otherwise identical editions of a game with incredibly different quality of components create their own sort of ratings noise.
- Skelebone: This is a real idea that is considered for future site developments; In the proposed solution, each entry would allow for tracking of different "versions", and users would be able to track what version they own in their collection. But, it will also take a sizable re-write of the game entry database and interface, so it could be some time coming.
- International releases (Most of Haba's games qualify) often have different titles for the different languages. So, it would be very nice to be able to add alternate titles right from the start, in order to get Trüffel-Schnüffel, Truffel-snuffel, Truffle snuffle, and Affaire de flair all immediately findable with a search.
- Skelebone: These can be put in the comments to the admin. I add them to the game entry manually.
- Herace: For now, yes. But don't the admin's have enough to do? I know it's hookie, but for now could multiple game name be added with semicolon to seperate? first name primary, others are alternates.
- zefquaavius: Skelebone is an admin, so I think it's fair for him to suggest that. :^)
- herace: It would be nice if a whole game record could be added and approved as a unit. It's work to keep coming back to see if things get approved piecemeal. While the user is adding the game, he adds the following, and the whole thing then gets approved in one decision:
- alternate names
- photos (I can upload them anyway, just not link them to game...)
- links (even if you don't have picture, there is probably one on web...)
- Skelebone: That's a grand idea, but it would also take a re-write of the game submission interface, and BGG's sole programmer is Aldie; he has a lot on his to-do list for now, and this item is a low priority. What we have now is functional, and once some other projects are finished, we could expect an update of the game submissions interface.
- A page to see the submission queue. Update: Aha, such a page exists: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/userqueue.php ... It is not obvious or easy to find.
- Improve the confirmation message after submitting a game. https://boardgamegeek.fogbugz.com/default.asp?195_461r
"Game successfully added to database. The new game entry will be reviewed and added to the database if acceptable."
If the game was successfully added to the database, then why would it need to be reviewed and added to the database if acceptable? :)
It would be clearer if the text were something like:
"Game added to submission queue. The new game entry will be reviewed and added to the database if acceptable."
And the message should prominently mention the link http://www.boardgamegeek.com/userqueue.php since many people don't know they can see the submission queue.