Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The BGGs I Have Known

Well, it was inevitable. On January 3rd, BoardGameGeek underwent a major facelift. As expected, the are those in support, those against, and those who are apathetic. Personally, I adapt to things that I cannot change, so I'll learn to use this version of the Geek as I have the versions in the past.

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This is the first version of the Geek I ever saw. I had just played my first game of The Princes of Florence and thought that it created possibilities. However, at the time we had a D&D campaign going, and there was just no time for a new hobby.

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I returned to the Geek in 2002 after playing Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, I was living in a foreign country at the time due to work and the main requirement for this hobby to catch on, a steady gaming group, was not available. So, again BGG was more of a curiosity, and my main hobby at the time was videogaming via PC and PS2. Interestingly, I was a sometime member of another online community over at GameFAQs, a site that I had seen evolve over several years. (It has since been purchased by CNET, but seemingly still retains its independence.) I rarely visit GameFAQs these days since I've practically given up videogaming (it was just a lifeline hobby in a lonely time) but when I peek in it's undergone radical changes itself.

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I created my BGG account in November 2003. I had returned to my home country and happily regained my gaming group. Our regular gamemaster no longer had time to handle a campaign, and none of us had the time to invest in full-time Magic: the Gathering involvement, so we turned to Eurogaming as our regular hobby. I started to collect games. Hello, Reiner Knizia.

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This was a minor redesign in 2004, when the Geek first switched to the two-column format that we see today. It was a very nice format, clean and user-friendly. The twelve months surrounding November 2004 were the peak of my Geek activity, when I wrote most of the content I've submitted to BGG to date, and when I met and began gaming with the online boardgaming buddies I've known the longest - Mary, Gerald and Chester. Joe Gola joined our little group shortly thereafter when we discovered 5P Durch die Wuste on Ludagora.

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2005 marked the debut of the Tabbed Geek, which was just an evolution of the 2-column design. This is what most of the current regulars of the Geek should be familiar with. Despite the emegence of Boardgamespeak, my BGG activity declined as the number of users and site traffic increased. I started this blog early in the year when the old BGG Blogs were removed as a site feature. It was a respite from the noise of the Geek, and provided much greater freedom and control. My group of online gaming buddies expanded, and later in the year our invite-only extended online gaming "group" (I use the term loosely here), BGGF, was created. I had the pleasure of meeting and gaming online with Jim, Jasen, Jason, Gerald the Elder, Kane, Chad, Seth and I'm sure I forgot a couple of others!

Which brings us to today.

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I'm not quite sure I like it, but that was more or less how many people feel about familiar things that change. It's like tossing your old, comfy but worn-out shoes for stiff shiny new ones. They more advanced, more functional, and shinier, but they're less comfortable and you have to break them in for a while. I use BGG a lot less now than I did in 2003-04 when the hobby was new and much research had to be done on the back catalogs and there were a lot of cool Geeks to meet.

Now, with regular online gaming buddies, a nice selection of online gaming venues (BSW, SBW, BaJ, Ludagora) a mostly-complete collection of all the games I care to own, and a wealth of content being cleanly fed to me by Bloglines, there is much less need to be on the Geek. That is why I guess the redesign bothers me much less than it does other users. I still plan to send in my $25 eventually, as well as submit more content, just for old times' sake.

Thanks to Aldie and Derk, and best of luck to Scott in his new career as Overlord of Boardgamegeek.


At Wednesday, January 04, 2006 9:48:00 AM, Blogger Jasen said...

The customizable modules are neat but I have a major gripe with the glaring intrusiveness of the google ads. I mean, they appear in 4 different freaking locations on the main page. Give me a break!

At Wednesday, January 04, 2006 9:53:00 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Yeah, that does seem excessive. I guess it's a reason to fork over $25, though at this point it may be more for what the Geek was over the past couple of years more than what it is now and going forward. Usability has gone down while noise has gone up. Which is why I love Bloglines - only the content I want, with no ads and in a very clean format.

At Friday, January 06, 2006 2:35:00 AM, Blogger Naturelich said...

Great article, thanks for sharing the screenshots. I was not aware BGG had undergone such a massive face lifting since it's invention...


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