Game Quality

A couple of weeks ago I received a game that I had preordered many months before. There were some printing errors in the game when it arrived. My question is how do you folks feel about that? Do you excuse that? Do you say, “Oh well, that’s OK?”

I was informed by a designer that I could was being unreasonable to expect “zero defects.” This industry expert further added that no one gets paid, and that companies are struggling to get by. Whether this designer is correct or not is irrelevant. I have issues with these statements.

First, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect my game to be pristine when it arrives. I expect the rules to be well written. This can be problematic if the game was created overseas then translated to English. I should expect all the components to be present and not short. I expect all the cards to be correct with no deficiencies. I’m uncertain how mistakes happen. After a year or more of play testing and multiple proofs from the printer, errors still slip by? How many people are proofing? I don’t work in the printing industry. I work in technology in academia. Before we bring a new space online, it is punched (QC’d) not just by the vendor but also by us. I mean 8 of us. My entire department and all 16 eyes go over everything. We bring in our clients to look it over to evaluate the user interface. What one person misses another finds. It’s pretty simple really. Not sure why this wouldn’t be happening in the gaming industry too.

Second, if these companies are struggling to get by then maybe they shouldn’t be in business. I understand that there is a deep commitment and love for games by publishers and their designers but the bottom line is, game publishers should be concerned with the bottom line. They are there to make money. Plain and simple. If your business is not sustaining itself, you need to find a way or pull the plug. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh but it’s like anything else. If it isn’t working for you in anything you do, you make adjustments or you shit can it. That’s it.

Third, if the problem is at the printer then they should be held accountable. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. They’ve given you proofs. How can errors still occur? What about quality control on their end? Clearly, if the printer can’t get the job done, take your business elsewhere. A game publisher shouldn’t be held hostage by a printer because they say they’re sorry and that’s who’ve you been using for years. That aside I understand it’s also a question of economics. An unfortunate truth.

A friend of mine is a New York Time best-selling author. In all his books I have never seen a spelling error or any error of any kind. Now you’re saying “But that’s not the same!” Of course it is. Text is text. Whether it’s 20 words or 200,000 words; a 36 page rulebook or a 360 page novel. What difference does it make? You mean the quality suffers because it has less words than more? Shouldn’t there be more errors in more words than less? Statistically, one would tend to think that would be the case.

Moreover, if I say I’m going to sell you a coffee mug for $10 and say, “The color might be a little off, it might have a chip in it, and it might leak.” Would you still buy it? No, you wouldn’t. You would say it isn’t right for anyone to sell me a product that they know is defective. You have to trust that the product is up to par. Others will say, I’m being unrealistic and that defects happen. Agreed. However, I can show you games that cost half as much, with twice and three times as many cards and components and “zero defects.”

I may sound bitter but I’m not. If I’m purchasing a game for well over $50 I may not expect the game to be great or even mediocre. I do expect the game to have the standards that I assume the designers have — that the company has. Everything has been checked. Double checked. Triple checked. Ad nauseam. You get the idea.

Perhaps, (no, I know) I am more annoyed that the publisher knew there was a problem but did not inform their constituents before they started shipping copies of the game. And, if the community “knows” about it after the fact, shouldn’t the publisher email all customers and acknowledge the defect anyway? Isn’t that being honest and a good, moral member of the gaming community? 

Interestingly enough, this company will be shipping fixes for the issue around a month from now. That information was buried in a generic monthly email to members of their list distribution. Unfortunately, it probably should’ve been sent already to those that pre-ordered it. But c’est la vie. Better late than never I suppose.

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State of the Gaming….IMHO

As I am sure many of you have noticed by now, my channel/this web site has not had an update or new video in quite some time. I felt it necessary, to explain what is going on. /begin rant

I started this endeavor as a web site at first and then it morphed into a YouTube channel. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed it. I liked talking about games, giving you my opinions or insights into a game, or in general, spreading the love. I really loved this hobby at the beginning. That opinion has changed over the passed several months and hopefully it’s just a phase.

The fall of 2016 was a rough time for me. Work, family and personal pressures and issues distracted me from gaming. In fact, other than playing the occasional game with my kids, I attended no game nights and therefore by extension no contact with other gamers. A fair amount of solo gaming was done and only when time allowed, which really wasn’t that often. Now this is all me, to be sure but there were also some outside factors that have contributed to my current assessment of the board gaming hobby.

1.)  I have become disillusioned by the hobby. It started with my admiration of a particular reviewer who essentially became “too big for their own britches.” Great writing, wonderful insights, just all around fantastic content — but disconnected from their fans, their readers, their admirers. You can’t be on a public platform and not expect to reply to emails, answer questions and the like. This person did that and still does that. I found it to be rude and unprofessional and it really annoyed me, which leads me to the second issue: elitism.

2.) I feel that the hobby initially was far more open and inviting. If I were entering the hobby today, I would find a much larger sense of elitism than before. I understand that some gamers have a love of heavy Euros and dislike anything on the lighter side or perhaps a family-style game. Then there are others who would rather play Zombie dice all day rather than try Castles of Burgundy because they think it looks too complicated. I get that. I was there once. You like what you like. I believe that today there are more people than ever who look down their noses at any gamer who doesn’t fall into their appreciation for the games they like. Much of this I think is due to the explosion of board gaming that has transpired over the past 4 or 5 years. Also, the proliferation of blogs, and to a much larger extent You Tube channels, has created an environment of if you’re not in “our” club than you are just a muggle. This leads me to:

3.) Being on such a public platform if you have a web site or a YT channel, offers you the opportunity to state your opinion beyond that of board games. That is their choice to do that and although I usually don’t have an issue with that, there are times when such proclamations are inappropriate, unrelated, or just plain aggressive tactics against those who may or may not feel different than you. Most recently, I was attacked by an individual in the industry who accused me of being misogynistic because I thought there wasn’t enough women in board gaming; that it was my fault that there weren’t more because of my gender! That all I wanted to do was sleep with them. I was livid and thoroughly offended. I am not going to bore you with any more details other than what I have just stated but suffice it to say that I no longer follow, watch, or read any more of this person’s content.

4.) And that brings us finally to content. Now, my content is nothing stellar, I understand that. But my subscription list is filled with tons of content creators who were and are creating content for content’s sake. Much of it is, quite frankly, garbage. There’s quality of the channel, and by that I mean, quality of the video —  the aesthetic and then there’s quality of the content itself. Much of the video quality is just bad. Mine was never outstanding either but a lot of what I see online is unwatchable, out of focus, shaky, bad audio — just poor production value. I can often times overlook that if the content is good. I think it used to be good but now, not so much. One channel, pumps out 50+ videos a week and much of it is just junk. Patreon, Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns have become the norm for many to be placed in a situation where now they are obligated to create content since you have “paid” for them to do so. I personally believe that those individuals have “lost their way” in the reason they create that content — the love of games.

Many other creators are reviewing games long before they hit the market; that cult of the new which feeds into the elitism. I won’t do that. I don’t review games I won’t or don’t like. I won’t waste my time with that. Admittedly, another part of that reason is trying to find my place in a sea of creators. Differentiating yourself from others is difficult when they are so many of “us” all doing the same thing. Perhaps I am being a hypocrite but, it’s difficult to justify the time and energy put into creating content for a YouTube channel when you have less than 600 subscribers, many of which perhaps have all but forgotten you exist and then there are others who create long winded, dark, and crappy content with over 10,000 subscribers. I understand that content creates subs. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.  This is all sounds like I’m jealous or envious or bitter. Maybe. I’m man enough to admit that. But it is no less frustrating. It’s frustrating to know that their entitlement and elitist behavior is sanctioned by their very constituents. And that is ultimately my biggest issue: “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I hope that all of this is just a phase. I am attending more game nights and playing more games. For now, however, I am still taking a break from creating content.

/end rant


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So behind

2015-05-01 22.39.22

So this is the short stack of games I have yet to review. Includes Asking for Trobils, Oddville, Samurai Spirit, Strife, Sonne und Mond, Best Treehouse Ever, Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Marrakech.

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Best of Lists Bunk

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Best Children’s Games

Now there’s a topic I have an issue with. Just because Gulo Gulo or Loopin’ Louie are excellent children’s games doesn’t mean either of them are best for all children. I know this sounds like a “no-brainer” but it irks me just the same.

I made it clear when I started this blog that my gaming choices for my 5 year old daughter Natalya would be age appropriate. As she ages those choices will mature and change as well. My daughter loves Animal Upon Animal which is marked as 4-99. [You can read another of my blog posts about it: here] Now, would my 16 year old son like it? I suppose if he was playing with his little sister but it won’t be his “go-to game.” We’re looking at the start year here folks. I know it all sounds obvious but making a Best Children’s Game video, or podcast or geeklist is ultimately flawed.

Best Children’s Games need to be broken down into sub categories of Best lists. They should be broken down more like this:

Ages: < 3, 3-5, 5-8, 8+, 10+, 12+, 16+

Part of the problem is the gaming industry itself. Hobby games for the 8 and under crowd are hard to find and get even harder as the child gets younger. We all know Parker Brothers has an answer to this with their caucophny of children’s game like Loopin’ Louie, Cooties, Ants in my Pants, Candyland et cetera. Not that these are bad games (well they might be), they are not the usual choice for hobbyists like ourselves, the parents. However, there are two companies that come to mind that can come to our rescue. Haba and Gamewright. Haba has a huge line of beautiful, wonderful and cute little games for the young ones. Haba is hard to find in this country. There are a few on Amazon, but the majority of them are not available in the United States, at least not easily. Your best bet would be to seek out a specialty toy shop or maybe your FLGS can score one. Gamewright games on the other hand are much easier to score. Many of their games are small card-based games. (Granted I am a little partial to them as their headquarters is about 30 minutes from my house.) Go to their web site and check out some of the great offerings.

I think it’s ok to have lists broken down into genres like Best Party Game, Best Area Control Game, Best Worker Placement game, et cetera. But dumping all children’s game into one big box is not going to work. Now considering I am only starting at the low end of the curve here, I am sure a few years from now I will say this entire age-based break down is junk. But for now I think it works. Ask me again a few years from now.

Viel Spaß!

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