Jorge Zhang

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A Brief Guide to Board Game Geek

March 20, 2019

This post was inspired by Benjamin, who asked about tips for using Board Game Geek from the perspective of a game designer. Board Game Geek is super important for game designers to use, but also very unintuitive. It took me a very long time to get used to the site, so I thought I’d share a few tips for upgrading your profile, your game page, and interacting with others.

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Board Game Geek is very confusing!

Submitting Your Game

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Go here.

There are a lot of guidelines for submitting a board game to the site, which are designed to prevent people from spamming ideas that are not yet actually games. Here is the main thing: they want to know that your game is almost or fully complete. I know that their site says that the game must be “available in its final form,” and what that really means is that the gameplay won’t change much and the game itself has already been playtested extensively. So make sure, before you submit, that your game is close to completion. Otherwise, mods are unlikely to approve your game. It kind of sucks, since in order to create a game, you need to build a following, which you need a BGG page for, which requires a completed game. It seems very catch-22, and the mods know that, and are sympathetic to individual publishers (at least that was my experience).

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Major props to the mods. They do fantastic work, and in my experience, go out of their way to help you. Thanks mods!

What information to use for the form?

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Lots of things to fill out
  1. Name of the game
  2. Description
    1. When I first submitted Daggers High, the mods kindly informed me that I needed to submit a better description. In their words, this is what they are looking for:
    2. “A good description offers theme, gameplay and winning conditions so that the users get a good view about what the game is about. What does a player do on their turn? What actions can they take? Ideally, the game description should give the reader a general sense of how the game is actually played, not just in terms of theme but actual game terminology.”
  3. Relevant categories, mechanisms and families.
  4. Designer
    1. I am assuming that you are the designer. You will need to add yourself to the database, though it isn’t too difficult.
    2. You can do this here: https://boardgamegeek.com/item/create/boardgameperson
  5. Publisher (I put self-published)
  6. Year published (this can be in the future, like 2020)
  7. Note to Admin
    1. The note to admin is extremely important! They are the ones who will decide whether your game is worthy or not. Tell them that you made this game and thank them for their time.

How long does this process take?

It took Daggers High 2 weeks to be approved, but it could be shorter/longer depending on the circumstances. I had to have some correspondence with the mods and change the description, which likely made it take longer for it to be approved by the BGG admins.

Ok, so I got my game approved. Now what?

So, once your game is approved, and you list yourself as the designer, you are going to get this really cool page for yourself that looks like this:

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My game designer page

You also get a page for your game:

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The game page for Daggers High

I highly, highly, highly recommend that you go to the right and subscribe to yourself. It’s super important if you want to efficiently keep tabs on what people say about your game and you.

What does subscribing do?

Basically, whenever somebody says something about the thread, topic, game, person, etc. that you subscribed to, you get a notification. That is really important, because people could be asking questions about your game and post them in the forums. This way, you’ll know about it, rather than finding out several months later.

Images, files, and stuff

Images are the lifeblood of your game page. I would recommend uploading the best images you have for the game. Other people can upload images too, and it would be a good idea to encourage that! Having a few images at the start though so that people looking through your page can see them will help a lot.

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Uploading images

Which gallery is my image?

So, why images? Primarily because people are visual creatures, which means that they will be much more likely to actually read about the game if they see something that catches their eye. The second reason is because people can give your images a thumbs up. I believe that the algorithms like this a lot, so the more people that do this, the higher your game will appear on the “hotness” list as well as in search results (at least, I think. I don’t have personal experience with this). Finally, you get Geek Gold if the image is approved!

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Yes! I earned 1 Geek Gold!

Rulebook, videos, etc.

I would recommend putting the rulebook and any videos you made yourself of your game on the BGG page. I won’t go into detail on how to do this in this post because it is pretty straightforward. But this would help someone who is very interested in your game to learn more about it. Other than that, I would not go overboard with forum posts and stuff like that. You ideally want other users to be contributing to your BGG page and posting their own images, etc. So encourage your reviewers or anyone who has your game to do this! It will help a ton.

Ratings

You can rate any game on BGG, and you can even rate your own game! I would probably recommend against this since it could turn some people away.

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I didn’t rate my own game, but if I did it would be a 11/10

There are a couple things people could do. They can add it to their wishlist. They have the option of rating how much they want it on a scale of 1-5: 5 being kind of interested but not really, and 1 being that they really want the game. If there are people who put your game on their wishlist, don’t hesitate to contact them! I almost got a reviewer this way, as Rahdo had put Daggers High on his wishlist. I contacted him through Geek Mail, and we talked for a bit, though unfortunately, he decided not to review the game and removed it from his wishlist due to his dislike of “take that” mechanics.

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These are some of the people who have added Daggers High to their collection

Logging plays

This post is getting pretty long, so I’ll just briefly mention this here. Personally, I don’t log plays (mostly because I always forget), but it could be a good idea to do this so that you could show off how many times you have played the game. That might make people more willing to trust that you have a good game.

Your user profile

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Don’t neglect your profile!

People are going to check out your profile because there will be a link back to your profile whenever you post an image or on the forums. The first thing they see is going to be what I circled in red. Out of these, the most important thing is going to be your Avatar. Probably for good reason, people aren’t going to take you seriously if you don’t have an avatar. That’s because it is the #1 giveaway that you are a noob, and don’t use Board Game Geek that much. It costs 50 Geek Gold, so you likely won’t be able to get one immediately. This is easy to fix!

Geek Gold

Geek gold is the currency of Board Game Geek, and you use it to buy your avatar, your microbadges, badges, overtext, and more. These all cost about 50 geek gold each. If you remember from the previous section, you get about 1 geek gold per image submitted. So yeah! This will take a lot of time to build up. Here’s how to get Geek Gold:

Beg for Geek Gold

Seriously. One of the first things I did was visit this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/475312/no-geek-left-behind-how-get-avatar

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Thank you to Berthold for donating 50 GG, Redeux for donating 8 GG, and Zakoholic for donating 10 GG. It really helped me get started!

If you don’t have an avatar, this is a quick way to get enough Geek Gold to buy one and then some.

Submit content

You get GG in 2 ways from submitting content:

  1. You’ll be paid by the mods for submitting reviews, pictures, videos, and some other content (but not for forum posts generally)
  2. Other users will give you tips

Support the site

By supporting the site, you will get Geek Gold. I did this and paid $15, and received 15 Geek Gold. That’s not a lot, but at the end of the year, I will get 1000 Geek Gold. I guess that’s to avoid new users from being able to immediately get really awesome profiles

Describe yourself

Write a description about who you are. If you are comfortable with this, put down your home state. This way, people who also live in the same state might contact you for meet-ups.

Your profile comes with a bunch of cool stats about how you use the site, and you can do a bunch of other small things like list your favorite movies or your other interests. I won’t go into that either, but it is there if you want to do that.

WIP Forum

In the comments section, Benjamin brought up the WIP forum. The WIP forum is generally a place to post about games that aren’t yet ready for a BGG page. That being said, the line is blurred a bit, and the WIP forum can be a great place to let people know about what you are working on. I personally have found that it can be a bit overwhelming and that you can be completely drowned out by all the different games being discussed in the forums (I used to be subscribed to the WIP thread until it became too many notifications). In my case, I put up a game I am currently working on called Lord of Colors, and while I got a good response, after only a few days it was already on the second or third page of results. In my opinion, a BGG page is more valuable as it will be less likely to be buried by all the other WIP games. That being said, people are very active in this forum and you will likely get some level of response and following.

That about covers the basics, and honestly that’s all you really need to know. 80% of the difficulty of using BGG is setting it all up: after that you can sit back and relax as people start populating your game page. If you want a more hands-on approach, I would recommend using the forums frequently and becoming a member of the BGG community. That being said, this is heavily time intensive and not everyone can do this, so do not worry if you aren’t that person!

Any other questions about Board Game Geek? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading! If you enjoy this content, please feel free to like, share, and/or subscribe.

© 2020 Jorge Zhang