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Confused by Board Game Geek

Do you get headaches or feel anxiety when you use Board Game Geek? Do you enter the site hoping to find a fun new game, but run away feeling too overwhelmed to continue? You're not alone.

Don't get me wrong — Board Game Geek (BGG) is an incredible resource that we use on a daily basis. There are great people behind it who have done incredible things for the gaming industry. But there is just...so......much........information. Headaches and anxiety are an exaggeration, of course, but it can quickly get overwhelming or confusing for casual gamers — I know firsthand. My confusion when I first got started in gaming is one of the reasons we launched Casual Game Revolution so many years ago (you can read the full story here if you're interested).

Finding a good casual game on Board Game Geek can be a challenge, since most of "The Hotness" list and highest rated games are far heavier than the typical casual gamer would enjoy. But if you know what to look for, it can still be a very useful resource for casual gamers.

Without further ado, here are 5 tips for making the most of Board Game Geek:

1) Avoid "The Hotness" list

The Hotness list is full of games that I frankly have no interest in. The core audience of Board Game Geek usually gets very excited about very different games than I do. Occasionally, you'll find some casual favorites on the list (such as Spiel des Jahres winners) but in most cases I would recommend avoiding it. Instead, browse for games in the party game and family game categories directly. Or, you can look up the publisher and/or designer of a favorite game browse other games produced by them.

2) Don't dwell on the game rating

A game's average rating can sometimes be deceptive. First, keep in mind the core audience of Board Game Geek. Second, the rating system itself addresses the question "how often would I play this game?" as opposed to "how much do I like this game?" In other words, a lower rating could either mean that a game is broken, or that it's a great game that core gamers just don't want to play very often. It can really be a toss-up — some of our favorite casual games range anywhere from 6 to 8 (out of 10). Case in point: the hit game Forbidden Island (below) has received an average rating of 6.8.

Then there's the average rating vs. the Geek rating — the Geek rating is padded with "dummy votes" for ranking purposes, which prevents games with only a few votes from ending up at the top. The number to focus on (albeit with a grain of salt) is the average rating.

3) Check the game weight

The game weight rating can be a very useful metric. A game's "weight" basically indicates how much complexity is involved, or depth of thought needed to play the game. So, for instance, a game with many paths to victory and a high amount of different mechanisms would have a much higher weight than a basic roll-and-move game. Good casual games most often fall around 2 or below on this scale (out of 5 total) — any higher and you might want to either avoid it or look through the rulebook to make sure you're comfortable with it before making a purchase.

Note: the game weight is a subjective rating, and usually doesn't get entered as often as other ratings do. So, newer games might not even have a weight available (or it might be based on only a handful of votes).

Board Game Geek game weight (Forbidden Island)

4) Use the collection and wishlist tools

If you're serious about casual gaming (or have a collection of 50 or more games), you might benefit from Board Game Geek's game collection and wishlist tools (under the "My Geek" menu). The collection tool can help you keep track of the games you own, how often you play them, and how much you like them. The wishlist tool can be helpful for tracking which games you may want to pick up in the future. These are great tools for helping you build a game collection.

5) Use other resources for discovering games

Board Game Geek can certainly be useful for gathering and storing data, but there are other resources that simplify the process of game discovery for casual gamers. For instance, we maintain a list of Recommended Games and we publish a new review at least once per week for games that might interest you. There are also communities available on Facebook and other social media that are more suited for casual gamers, such as our Casual Board Games Facebook group — this great community can help you find just the game you're looking for.

You can also subscribe to Casual Game Insider for our most polished and helpful content. Or, watch some of the best board gaming media on our new smart TV channel, Boardy TV. All of these resources were created with casual gamers in mind. Whatever options you choose, we and the rest of our community are here to help you dive into the best new games.

Conclusion

If you feel overwhelmed when using Board Game Geek, or just navigating the world of board games in general, know that you are not alone. There are many casual gamers that feel the same way. Being a part of our community can help you navigate the confusing world of board games and find many games that are a perfect fit for you, your friends, and family.