A Year of Patience

I’ve been quiet this year.

This was certainly not my original intention, but such is the way of things. COVID-19 has haunted us all; and it has had a particularly rough impact on hobby gaming. Due to resposibilities at both home and work, I’ve had to be very carful about potential exposure. Writing about board games is difficult when you can’t play them on a fairly regular basis. I also really miss board gaming with my friends. The whole situation has sucked. Regardless, and as usual, I’m in the midst of my annual evaluation of token opinion; what it is, and what I want it to be. The results are two pretty big decisions.

The first is fairly simple, and more ideological than anthying else: token opinion will remain a personal blog. There’s honestly a lot more to this decision behind the scenes than it might seem, but most of this is largely immaterial to the reader.

The second decision is a bit more complicated, and admittedly requires some explanation, but here it is:

I’m completely overhauling the review format.

Again.

Wait, don’t leave! Let me explain.

To begin with, writing them has grown quite boring. It’s a formulaic process, from front to back. I’m fairly analytical by nature, and reviewing would seem to be a perfect fit for me- those who know me will atest to this. So I set up a structured format, intended to hit the basic pillars of a game- game, rules, components. Then there’s the time commitment. I require a minimum of five plays (usually more) to feel like I can reliably review and score a game. It’s a time consuming process, and has made reviewing new games impossible during the pandemic.

But writing is more art than science… And this highly structured format has weighed on me from a creative stance. I often felt forced to avoid more meaningful talking points, instead focusing on wrote descriptions. I put a lot of thought into my reviews, and I write because I enjoy writing. Remove that enjoyment and it becomes a purposeless labour.

So, what’s changing?

First, I’m eliminating the sections- in more ways than one. I’m abandoning all of the structured subheadings, in favor of a cleaner, more linear presentation. The Components and Rulebook sections will be eliminated entirely, as I just feel that with most newer games neither of these issues merit regular scrutiny. What was Gameplay and Thoughts will be woven together, providing a more cohesive approach. Hopefully as we exit the pandemic, I’ll be able to hit the ground running with new content. At some point older reviews will be updated and/or rewritten to reflect these changes.

I also debated eliminating the numerical rating score, as this too has some issues. While I’m quite calculating in how I’ve determined scores, personally I’ve come to find them redundant. I’ve stated recently that the general level of quality in our hobby is pretty high; most games are going to score 8-10, with occasional outliers. On top of that, and especially when rating on a ten-scale, subjectivity is an ever present problem. For instance; while the board game community as a whole tends to view “Terraforming Mars” in an extremely positive light, I think the game is… Well, problematic, to say the least. All that said, folks at large seem to appreciate the numerical score, so it’s sticking around. But I have updated the rubric I use to a system that is much easier, but also a bit more aggressive- averages will sink to the 6-8 range, and getting a 10/10 will be a feat. I’ve already gone back and reflected this in previous scores.

Moving forward, I’m also going to avoid writing reviews for weaker titles. If a title can’t score at least a 5/10 I will not post a review, as I’d just as soon not draw attention to it- unless the publisher requests otherwise. I will also begin posting more scores to my Board Game Geek page, these minus a review.

Well, that about wraps it up. I hope this is a better year, for all of us. We’ve earned it, I should think.

Thought? Questions? Sound out in the comments below.

And as always; thanks for stopping by.

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