Friday, September 14, 2012

Mixing It Up

I've come to an important realization, and I wanted to share it:

I am bored with board games.

That's not entirely true, actually. I am bored with NEW games. I don't want to try every newfangled game that gets published by some fifteen-year-old with a Kickstarter account and a copy of Microsoft Word. I don't want to read convoluted 36-page rule books that would give migraines to normal men. I don't want to have to learn every game I've got every time I want to play. I just want to play the games I already have and enjoy them.

The problem, of course, is that as a game reviewer, new games are where it's at. I am not going to review Risk Legacy every time I play it, but I still want to play it another couple dozen times. But I need to play the games I'm going to write about, even though what I really want to be playing is another round of Mice & Mystics, only I have to play Crap City Bore Dome because I need to write about it to justify my free copy.

The problem gets worse, too. I have a bunch of games I just don't want to play. They might be good games, but it's hard to give them an unbiased opinion when I'm irritated to have to read the rules in the first place. I'm spending every Friday night boning up on rules so I can play the games the next day, and in at least one out of three cases, I try to forget the rules immediately after I'm done writing, because I liked the game so little.

And you know what else? I have too many games. I know there are some of you that would say such a thing is impossible, but I'm telling you, I have too many. I can't store them all - and keep in mind that my game library started over from scratch last Christmas, when I lost them all in a house fire. So nine months later, I have more games than I can fit into my office. If I never got another game, I could be perfectly happy playing the ones I have for the rest of my life.

Plus you don't need me any more. When I started out, there were maybe a dozen reviewers who were actually doing anything. At one time in the not-too-distant past, I was one of six people in the world with more than 100 reviews at BGG. Now there are 39. And that's not counting the people at other sites who don't even put their stuff at BGG. The market is glutted, and since I'm not going to start doing video reviews, I can't really keep up any more.

I got into this racket for free games. I wanted publishers to send me stuff so I could write about it, and get free games for my efforts. At this point, however, I don't want most of the free games that come to my house. And that is making me reconsider a lot of things. Like, why am I writing about games just to get free games when I don't want the free games? OK, maybe I'm only reconsidering that one thing.

Starting tomorrow night, I'm mixing it up a little. From now on, I'll be reviewing whatever the hell I want. If it's a board game, fine. If it's a movie, great. Maybe it'll be a TV show, or a concert, or a camping trip. Tomorrow night, in fact, I'll be reviewing a Lego set. Yeah, I'll review toys, if I want, or comic books, or word processing apps for the iPad (not really that last one, unless it's so insanely cool that I just can't shut up about it).

Of course, this means I'm going to have to redesign some of the site. I'm not doing that tonight, because tonight I'm going to go watch some reruns of Oz on HBO GO, which is awesome, in case you were wondering.

Maybe I'll review it some time.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to say - Bummer. Its an understandable but regrettable conclusion. In your audience's defense, I don't particularly want to find some other reviewer. I trust your opinions, you don't belabor the rules explanations but still provide useful information, and you are often funny. How many of the 39 can say that?

Stefaan said...

I understand it but no 100 reviewers can replace the interesting, honest and enjoyable reads you provide. Come on, Tom Vassel does not even swear.

Peer said...

For a moment I thought you want to stop reviewing altogether... I hope its just a phase ;-)

Matt Drake said...

I'm not giving up board game reviews entirely. I still love board games, and I will still review any games anybody sends me. But now I might throw in some other stuff, stuff nerds like me might dig. Like, how many of you guys are watching Copper? It's on BBC America, 4 episodes in, and it's fantastic. You would love it. I'll write about it next week - and also Merchants & Marauders and Lego Monster Fighters. There is just too much awesome nerd stuff to focus on just one thing. Hell, let's not call this a bad thing at all. Let's call it an upgrade.

sharc said...

I'm 100% with you. In the last year, I've lost all interest in new games. Too much effort for too little return. However, I love reading your stuff, regardless of what you cover. Keep the Flame alive!

Peer said...

Im actually looking forward to your Series-reviews. The only problem is: Its sometimes impossible to see these series in Europe. Day Break is not even available through Amazon in my country. Ive ordered from the Us, but Im not sure, if my DVD can show US-zoned DVDs...

MIK said...

As long as you don't get rid of the site, that's cool, we'll evolve with you.

Mikkel Ø. said...

Absolutely marvellous to hear! You do this because you enjoy doing so, and therefore I see it as a positive thing that you expand your reviewing horizon of revieweness.

Nate said...

I, for one, wouldn't mind seeing you pursue "deeper dive" reviews into games you already loved. Or thought you loved. As we play games over time, we can discover nuances of strategy or mechanics that make them even more satisfying over time, or dead-ends that relegate them to the shelf for long periods of time.

I feel most reviews are fashioned after a charge through the rules and a few plays. How does a game hold up after the dozenth play? The hundredth? I say this because you have a great knack for getting to the meat of what makes a game work, I have always liked your writing and would find it interesting as a reader to compare my experiences to yours.

In either case, looking forward to reading whatever you feel like writing about.

DK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DK said...

I think that's a great idea! If you happen to be a fellow Apple-worshiper, you might even review some iPad games. There are some pretty fun "board" games that are iPad only, no physical copy.

Tensider said...

I'm completely good with the change, and echo Nate's suggestion of "deeper dive" revisting of games you continue to enjoy.

Corey L. Kliewer said...

You know Matt, your a great writer - and one thing I would love to read is your adventures in gaming. Not a review - but more the adventure you go through while you are gaming. So if you play a zombie game we read about Matt Drake the Zombie Hunter, and how he won the day, or had his calf muscle eaten off, which ever comes first.

Guido Heinecke said...

Don't you dare letting us alone with these 39 mediocre reviewers! I totally enjoy your writing style, so please don't feel pressed to justify your free copy. That's not the intention of a review. Play some games and write about those you like to write about. Not because you have to. You're not obliged to the publishers, but to us readers.

Doppelbock said...

You do whatever you want, I would read it if it were a travelogue of Bumfuck, Idaho. I just love your writing style, hell the pool "review" was entertaining as could be. I attempted to post regularly on my blog but got bored with one topic myself (and lazy but that's a different problem). Just keep writing and I for one will keep reading.

Lee said...

However your reviews evolve, I'll still be interested in reading your thoughts. My interests vary as well, so it'll be nice to see your reviews regarding other forms of entertainment. Keep the flames coming.

Colorcrayons said...

Definitely an upgrade. I enjoy and look forward to when you happen to speak your mind about other bits of life, even though I originally came here for the well written game reviews.

So yak away about whatever your heart desires. You still have people interested in what you have to say. I would much rather hear a review of a game you enjoy or a scathing rant of a game you disliked, than to see you burn out on reviewing every piece of shit that darkens your doorstep.

Thanks for all the effort you put into your site. It is always interesting even when the subject matter can be a bit sad.