Friday, February 10, 2006

It's a cooperative game, not winner take all.

Susan over at Game Ranch posted some insightful comments about the BGG/game bloggers conflict, whether it be real or imagined. Naturelich (who I have always envisioned as a hippie for some reason) followed up. Fairly quickly several other bloggers chimed in. The topic sprouted and took on a life of its own.

Boardgamegeek vs. the Blogs

First of all Boardgamegeek is the site for the boardgame community world wide. There is no other place to go to research such a variety of games. There is no blog, nor any other medium on the horizon that will replace BGG anytime soon.

Second of all I don't accept the notion that a lot of quality content is being moved from the Geek to the blogs. Some has moved to be sure. Much more is still being added to the BGG database. Most importantly, I believe that much of the material on the blogs would have never been created if the blogosphere didn't exist.

But as much as I appreciate Boardgamegeek...

...the point I want to make is that BGG is no longer a community. It is a bustling city. Don't get me wrong, growth is good. I like to see a healthy boardgame industry. I like to see good game database where enthusiasts can meet and interact even across borders.

But as is always the case with growth I no longer know my neighbors. I no longer feel like I'm chatting over the fence with Wilson. Wilson moved out and a fraternity bought his house. A well behaved fraternity to be sure, but there are people in and out at all hours of the day and I can no longer keep track of who's who.

There used to be a yappy Potter dog that occasionally disturbed the neighborhood. Now the noise of passing traffic is constantly drowning out the sounds of the kids playing across the street. The cranky guy who would sit at the diner and randomly correct people's English doesn't seem to get out much anymore.

Aldie Griffith and Derk Fife used to keep things under control, now there is a full time police force. All the police are fine people, but the fact they are needed is sad. About the only thing the police used to deal with was the town drunk. Now when Otis "Shillking" Widderich gets drunk, obnoxious and riles up some old ladies he doesn't even stand out from the crowd.

The transient population is booming. Every year the traffic gets worse. Billboards are springing up along the streets, which is good I guess. The revenue from advertising offsets the need for taxes. But...

This is a real ad. I clipped it Thursday:

Carcassonne Travel Guide
Traveling to Carcassonne?
Start with Yahoo!
Travel Guides and save
up to 70% on hotels.

Advertising is needed to keep the site free, but is this advertisement adding to the community?

The city fathers are dealing with the expansion very well and deserve lauds. Nevertheless many of us have decided to move to the burbs.

Right now in the blog-burbs property is cheap. There are no zoning regulations. The traffic is slower. The neighbors keep to themselves, but will always wave if you are passing by. If someone leaves some trash on my street I can throw it away. When I throw it away I can be reasonably sure no one will complain that they have a right to leave trash and by removing it I am censoring them.

I still commute to the city everyday. I go where I need to go and if I happen to meet an old acquaintance all the better. Although I still think of the city as my city, more and more of my time is spent tinkering around in my own garage. I walk the dog around my own neighborhood once each day to keep just to track of the neighbors.

I think everyone in the burbs has an interest in maintaining a vibrant city. The little secret of blog-burb is that most bloggers only last for a few months and then crap out. Most boardgame blogs only get updated once every month or two. There are only a handful that are updated every day and less than a dozen others that are regularly updated 2-3 times each week. The boardgame blogoshere isn't as healthy as it might seem to an outsider. The ranks of the bloggers are mainly replenished by people who cut their teeth on the Geek.

It doesn't have to be a case of Us vs. Them and I don't think it is. If the Geek ever goes into decline it will affect the blog-burbs and the whole boardgame world negatively. I think every blogger is aware of that fact on some level.



Coldfoot said...

I love the analogy, Brian. I agree that nothing will replace the Geek any time soon and it would be a terrible thing for the board game hobby if it disappeared. We need the Geek and the Geek needs us; it's a symbiotic relationship.

Can I be Aunt Bee? :)

Shannon Appelcline said...

Blogs & the info on BGG are really different types of content, and I wouldn't even know where to put most of what I write here at BGG, nor would I want to because it'd just become lost.

What people miss in the whole idea of a BGG/blog conflict is that the administrators at BGG explicitly and purposefully decided that they didn't want their site to include blogs. It had journals for a while, and I started to make use of those to some good response, and then they got segregrated, and thus effectively dumped, for a very different forum system. So, if people want to complain about blogs, they should complain about the fact that BGG choose not to have them.

In any case, I continue to use BGG for the things it's good at: looking up info on games. I for the most part no longer use it to monitor interesting discussions about gaming in general, because that went away as the community size increased, and as the journals were dumped, and has been picked up by the several best blogs.

Rick said...

What's going on at BGG is just 'progress'. It's happened to many websites-cum-communities on the intarweb before.

Brian makes a very nice analogy though. Those of us who write off the Geek still visit regularly. It's just that we don't speak much while we're there since individual voices can no longer be heard amidst the chaos, so what's the point?

Ava Jarvis said...

BGG still has places where individual content is not lost---and that's on the individual game pages. Even though they use a forum format, they're not part of the larger hustle and bustle that is the global forums.

You can still read reviews, game articles, and session reports---and that content continues to stand out just as much as it ever did on BGG. In particular, I would have a better time finding someone's review on BGG than I would on their blog.

But that's all very game-specific. For articles about general gaming, they are part of the global forums (they have to be), and the global forums contain quite a lot of noise these days. I don't think there is really a space on BGG for articles that can be as deep as a review or specific game article, but is general. Everything would only get stuck under "general gaming", because there isn't a specific space for it.

User-specific blogs can and did take care of this, but I could see why Derk and Aldie would remove them. A blog dynamic is all too easily exploited these days on BGG---and it was exploited back then as well. There are few other things as usable as a touch point for flamewars, especially on a site has a very interactive community these days.

Separating that aspect from BGG might have been a good idea in the end. There are still flamewars triggered by trolls, but they are, shall we say, isolated rather than concentrated...