Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Game Awards, Pro and Con

Board Game Geek announced that it was starting a game award only a few weeks ago, and now come the IGA nominations for best games. It's game award season. Actually, all year is game award season.

Much has been written about game awards, pro and con. In fact, there is really little to say that hasn't already been written somewhere, by somebody. I can sum up some of the sentiments:


Game awards attract mainstream interest in games, which benefit the publicity of games.

Game awards boost sales of the nominated games.

Game awards provide a topic of discussion for the game community, which result in information about games being made more readily available.

Game awards inspire designers to produce better games.

People naturally like to rank things and pick bests. Witness the plethora of top ten lists at the end of every year, as well as the continuing popularity of "list posts" on blogs.

Game publishers and designers really deserve our attention and thanks, and awards are a good means of giving these.


Game awards are the industry congratulating itself, which is both arrogant and full of nothing.

The same games are going to win most awards, so why have more than one? Especially, why have duplicate awards drawn from the same voting groups?

The vast majority of voters will only have played a few of these games; which results in popular games more likely to win, rather than better games.

Games are not meant to be "best" for all types of people, but serve only the target group to which they were marketed. Ranking them is therefore useless.

In particular, why would BGG have a game award when they already have a ranking system. How will they be any different?

How do you decide what games are included, and what aren't, based on publication date? What constitutes a board game, anyway? Or a light game? Or a card game?

And how do you handle game expansions, reprints, print and play games, free variants, and so on?

All well and good, both the positives and negatives. For my own part, I am kind of indifferent to these awards. I've seen too many good games without awards and too many bad games with them. My tastes are also skewed compared to the tastes of the masses, but not directly opposite them, either. So awards serve as no prediction for me as to whether or not I will like something.

When I see game awards, I am only reminded of all of the games that I have yet to play, and of all the other people who seem to be able to get their hands on so many more games than I do. Oh, well. At the very least, it gives me something to blog about.



Chris said...

With the BGG Awards in particular, there's one other pro or con (depending on how you look at it): The awards will bring more exposure to BGG itself.

Personally, I'm in the "indifferent" camp when it comes to awards. I don't really care about them, and I don't think they really skew my purchase decisions.

Coldfoot said...

As one who does not generally get to play many games that I don't purchase, I like the game awards as a guide.

Sometimes... dare I say... I dare. Sometimes I use the game awards as a guide for games to stay away from. MENSA and Games Magazine awards come to mind.

I then do my own research before buying.

Burninator23 said...

Awards are nice, coming from recognized organizations with authority in an industry. For me, there are a few too many gaming awards out there, and the ones that exist are perhaps not specific enough about type of game. For example, what makes the IGA different from the SDJ, DSP, Mensa, or Games Magazine awards? You have to do a little research and, even then, it's open to some interpretation.

Right now, I get way more information, related to buying, from personal comments and reviews on BGG and elsewhere.

Awards make people happy, which I'm generally in favor of, and more awards=more happiness, so, go awards!

Shannon Appelcline said...

It's not hard to argue that the SDJs are very important. They're a cultural phenemenon, they've helped push the German game industry, and they help keep game companies in business through their massive sales. I don't know how they managed it, but the SDJs are everything an award should be.

As for the rest ...

Gerald McD said...

Game awards impress me no more than academy awards for movies. I seldom agree with the results and tend to just ignore them. Reviews, comments by gamers, and session reports are my most important sources of information for buying games. I would never buy a game just because it won an award, any sooner than go to a movie because it won an Oscar.

But, if folks want to create publicity for games and the hobby, generate interesting (sometimes) discussions, and perhaps increase sales of games through awards, I have no problem with it.

I do disagree a bit with Coldfoot, though. I do use the Games Magazine 100 as a source of information. Certainly their descriptions and reviews are almost totally positive for all the games they cover, but I'm not sure I would have ever discovered Eurogames and BGG had I not decided to try one of Games Magazine's "winners" years ago. Now, I use BGG and blogs to do my research for game purchases, but I still look at the Games 100 for some ideas each year. I suppose I find it more helpful because they tend to cover more family games, which is the category I am most interested in.

Pawnstar said...

I've seen too many good games without awards and too many bad games with them.

I'd be really interested to know which bad games have won an award; my general impression is that award-winners I don't like are probably still good games and just not the kind of game I like.

As far as awards go, I pay more attention to those which generally adhere to my tastes. This means SdJ out, IGA in. I am also interested in the more public awards; Meeple's Choice is interesting but I don't know if I will feel the same about the Geeks.

As for their influence over my purchases, most of the time I've been lucky enough to play the game in question before the award was given. I have never bought something as a result of its award status, so perhaps that is never going to be a question I can answer.

I don't think any of the awards are chosen by the same group of people, even if there is some crossover - I can envisage the Geeks producing very different results than the Meeple's Choice, for example.