Monday, June 05, 2006

How I plan to take over the world


This blog is one of many board game blogs, but I hope to make it unique enough and interesting enough to turn it into one of the top blogs on the internet. The reason for wanting to do this is
  • to spread the word of good board and card games to the world,
  • to entertain my readers, and
  • to make some money from blogging (so that I can devote more time to it, thus making a better blog).

My competition is computer games (and computer game blogs).

Update: Andrea left a comment asking why I see computer games, and not other board game blogs, as my competition. The answer to this is that this blog is part of a small but growing worldwide movement to help make good board and card games a force in the entertainment market.

Current consumer perception views "board games" as children's or family entertainment, and computer or video games as both more trendy, more adult, and more commercially successful. I can't argue with the financial aspects; the computer and video game market is about ten times the current board and card game market.

But the reason for this is a vicious loop: modern board games, and I don't mean the ones that you can buy in Toys R Us, are great games, but people think "Monopoly" or "Cranium" when they hear the words "board game". So they dismiss all board games. The truth is that modern board game players (or, Eurogamers) feel the same way about Monopoly and Cranium: that they are cute mindless family games, but they are not trendy or serious forms of entertainment.

If you are a computer gamer, and you don't know about these games, I can help you to realize that board and card games

  • are not what you think. Today's international board and card games combine the simplicity and accessibility of the children's board games you remember with the elegance and immersion of classic cerebral games like Chess and Go,
  • are beautiful, and can be played with two to six players or more,
  • require unique types of strategy and tactics to win, so that each one increases your brain power in a different way, actually making you more intelligent,
  • are social and require real interaction with other people, which leads to real-world interactions during and outside of the game experience,
  • are standalone games that can be played anytime, anywhere, and do not require further purchases and do not go obsolete,
  • can be cultural, historical, mathematical, linguistic, and so on,
  • and are a whole lot of fun, not just cool because you get to blow things up and watch them bleed on a screen,

whereas computer games

  • are often anti-social, even if you play them with other humans over the internet or at the same game console,
  • are often mind-numbing, when playing involves going into a mindless zone where your reflexes speed up and you function more in tune with the moving images on the screen with less distractions,
  • can desensitize us to violence, and are obsolescence-ware,
  • are all too often based on the idea of clicking and scrolling faster, and do not teach you any really useful skills (other than military history) from one game to the next (some exceptional games aside),
  • tend to make you pasty and lazy, and can even make you sick
  • are no substitute for family, friends, and real-world interaction
  • can't be played without electricity, and require you to spend ever increasing amounts of money on monopolistic game consoles.

To that end, my blogging goals are

  • to be quirky
  • to be polite
  • to post often, and keep you informed when I can't
  • to bring you information that you can't get elsewhere
  • to write articles that make you think, entertain you, or both
  • to link to the best of all things board games (unless otherwise covered sufficiently in other board game blogs)
  • to occasionally post thoughtful articles about technology or Israel, just to keep things interesting
  • to present content neatly, clearly, and edited well, regardless of how you read the content or which browser you use
  • to promote discussion, and foster a sense of community
  • to get people talking about and linking to my blog, and to other blogs like mine
  • to make money through blogging and game design, but not in any way that would impinge on my reader's enjoyment or by linking to anything inappropriate.
Rock on,
Yehuda

Picture by mark coomey

21 comments:

Become a consultant >> Andrea said...

I don't mean to be negative, but do you really think your competition is with computer game blogs? Do the people who play computer games spend much time thinking about board games? I would actually think that your market -- and thus competition -- is different. I would have thought that your competitors would be other board game sites, maybe online board game sites, but not computer game sites. And maybe your market is made up of more family-oriented people. However, you know your blog and stats best!

Yehuda said...

Andrea,

Thanks for your reply. Good questions.

It's not that people who play computer games think a lot about board games; actually, that's kind of the problem, because the word "game" has become synonymous with "computer game".

I want to reach out not only to people looking to play board games, but people looking to play any type of game. Even people looking to do anything recreational at all.

I think you hit on two important points:

1) My "goal" to spread the word of board games may be a different one than to increase the size of my blog. Maybe they are exclusive goals. I hope not.

2) Probably I should tone down my negative comments on computer games; I can probably transform them into positive statements.

Other board game sites are not my competition, because other high profile board game blogs would only raise awareness about great games and increase the traffic to board game sites overall, anyway.

I will have to think about the market/audience issue.

Thanks again,
Yehuda

Jack said...

Go Yehuda! An admirable goal. My goals with my blog are similar - but you're doing a better job :-)

Having played computer games a lot as a teenager I turned to board games because computer games were getting too brainless and same-y. Sure there are exceptions to that but there are an awful lot of clones out there.

I think the hardest part of your goal will be to get the computer gamers to see your blog. They're probably too busy playing Counterstrike :-(

Yehuda said...

Thanks, Jack.

Yehuda

Razib Ahmed said...

"to make some money from blogging (so that I can devote more time to it, thus making a better blog"
I agree with it 100%. Many times, I see that bloggers tend to think that blogging should be only passion not the goal should be to earn money. However, almost of them update their blogs on a weekly or even monthly basis and the readers cannot be benefited much. So, yes, I agree with you about earning money so that we can dedicate more time for building a better blog.

gnome said...

Oh, come on, we aren't competitors...
Right?

:)

Yehuda said...

gnome:

Call it friendly competition :-)

In a perfect world, computer games and board games would each have their place. But, like the rest of the world vs Microsoft, all other objects of consideration seem to have gotten squeezed out, and the leader needs a little taking down.

That's what happens when money drives the press. Is it really more exciting when a computer game comes out than when a board game comes out? No, but one hits the news because it will be making more money; and it will be making more money, because it has hit the news. It certainly isn't because the computer game is "more fun".

Of course, board games have to put out quality products and compete; but that only goes so far when competing for market requires playing a media driven by a financial industy.

Yehuda

Yehuda said...

gnome: let's put it this way:

As far as I know, I link to almost every major board game blog. None of them are in the top 20,000 on Technorati.

Look at how many computer game blogs are. Are they all that much better than the board game blogs?

Yehuda

Anonymous said...

Hooray and good luck Yehuda!

Speaking from my own experience, I think the video game blogs are where you're going to find your new readers. I believe many video gamers are pretty disheartened by the types of games being produced. There is very little variety when it comes to computer games. So many of them have a 2 or a 3 or a 4 attached to their title because the big developers are afraid of going outside their traditional formats.

Take for example the RTS genre. There will probably be 10 or 20 RTS games released this year, each using very similar mechanics. So similiar in fact, that this would be like 20 versions of Puerto Rico being released, each with different board art and different names for the resources, but the same gameplay, over and over again. It has been this way for years!

I don't think you have to criticize computer gaming in general, whether it deserves it or not. I think your energy would be better spent telling computer gamers about all the great things they're missing.

The richness and variety of modern boardgames and cardgames is stunning. Although I was a big D&D and boardgamer as a teenager, I've only played video games in my 20s and 30s. Bruce Geryk, a great computer game reviewer, has been talking about the dearth of interesting computer games and how that compares to the vibrant boardgame scene. It was through his crossover articles that I finally began to take Boardgame Geek seriously, and have since bought and played Puerto Rico, Shadows Over Camelot, Paths of Glory, Memoir '44, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Cataan, and Arkham Horror. These games rock! And I can't wait to try more (although my wallet is a bit distressed).

I've enjoyed many of the boardgame blogs recently, and I do not think any of them are in competition with one another. Surfing your favorite blogs is like going to a large Mall, where each shop sells your favorite thing. Hopefully your blog will be one of the big anchor stores, like a Sears!

-Rob in Boston

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have linked to Bruce's blog at 1up.

-Rob

Servant of Chaos said...

Global domination is a lofty ambition ... but unless you are planning to invade, you need to go for a softer sell ;) ... As Andrea suggests, knowing your market is vitally important ... but belief in your own work and thoughts is also what attracts an audience to your blog.

Yehuda said...

Thanks, Rob. I already link to you, of course.

Gavin: you and Andrea remind me to think about my audience. My current audience is great, in fact just the basis of what I want for my core regular readers. Great guys and gals who game.

But if I'm also aiming to pick up people who aren't yet gaming, I have to think about how to get the word out there. That doesn't change much what I do on my blog, but it means more work off the blog trying to sell myself.

I had a nice traffic spike when I was recently Boing Boing'ed, but that didn't translate into much of an overall traffic increase.

I have work to do, I know.

Yehuda

elamb said...

You might be interested in the Meatbots boardgame phenomenon.
http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/11/11231.phtml
I heard about it on NPR.

gnome said...

I can see your point Yehuda, and don't neccesarily disagree... It's just that I don't see it as a competition of genres.

The only competition I find important (in the games arena) is that of quality games vs. cheap-ass efforts (usually over-hyped ones). And to some extent the competition of the indy vs. the mainstream market...

Yehuda said...

eLamb: thanks for the link.

gnome: Actually, this has been a helpful exercise, and I find myself needing to clarify. Maybe I will write a second version of this, or rewrite this one.

If you notice my goals, the goal of this blog is not for board games to get recognized; that's simply part of the blog's message.

The goal is to write things that people want to read, and to get people to read and comment on them. That's really the essense. My strategy is simply to do this using board games as my interest point.

And that's because it is something I know about, I'm passionate about it, and I think that others may want to read about it as well.

So, truth be told, computer game blogs are not really my competition. All blogs are my competition. And my market is anyone who wants to read about an interesting topic written by an interesting writer, and who may connect, in some way, to the topic.

Yehuda

gnome said...

Got it!

:)

Shadows Edge said...

Yehuda,

I like your ideas and blog concept! Though I enjoy a good computer game, I'm fond of board games as well. Most recently I've been playing the Catan games.

I looking forward to spending some time looking at your archives and reading your future posts.

--Jenn
Your Cre8tivity

dadan said...

i like the idea, maybe i should write my own idea, i mean specificly not generaly, thank for the article is realy helpfull

Jarkko said...

Computer games benefit from the media. Digital content is easy to pool up and distribute via different channels. Board games happen among friends and are not widely discussed. I got fed up with computer games and instead of writing about the games, I started writing about the industry, which I still think is interesting. Board games will only be big when a big star can voice-act in them ;)

Blaine said...

Sorry in advance for the length of this post.

A few disagreements:

>whereas computer games
> * are often anti-social, even
>if you play them with other
>humans over the internet or at
>the same game console,

The MarioParty series, and any sports game are good examples of social games. Especially with WiiSports, where the controls encourage traditional "non-gamers" to play.

>* are often mind-numbing, when
>playing involves going into a
>mindless zone where your reflexes
>speed up and you function more in
>tune with the moving images on
>the screen with less distractions,

There are plenty of logic puzzle games that can be played on a computer.
The flipside to this is that I find die-rolling games like Settlers of Catan extremely mind-numbing; your trading skills can make a difference, but by-and-large the winner will be the person whose numbers were rolled most.

>* can desensitize us to violence,
>and are obsolescence-ware,

No more so than movies, television, or music can. And none of the above are reasonable sources of violent behaviour.

>* are all too often based on the
>idea of clicking and scrolling
>faster, and do not teach you any
>really useful skills (other than
>military history) from one game
>to the next (some exceptional
>games aside),

I would say that clicking and scrolling faster is the exception to the rule, not the other way around.
You should really specify the games you are targeting instead of using the umbrella "computer games."

>* tend to make you pasty and
>lazy, and can even make you sick

How can a computer game do this, that a board game can not?
Sure, I can sit in my room all day playing computer games, and pass up food to continue doing so, but there are plenty of board games that take several hours to play; a group of people could easily pass a day without eating by simply playing three games back-to-back.

>* are no substitute for family,
>friends, and real-world
>interaction

Again, you are writing off alot of multiplayer games when you say this. And also writing off time spent discussing video games with friends while you are not playing them, even though you have made that point in favour of board games.

>* can't be played without
>electricity, and require you to
>spend ever increasing amounts of
>money on monopolistic game
>consoles.

Console games cost more than they did in the past, but you say that as if board games do not cost more than board games cost in the past. Apples to apples.
Console and computer games cannot be played without electricity; board games cannot be played without a table and all the playing pieces. More importantly, I am much more likely to lose pieces from a board game than I am to lose pieces from an electronic game. I assume you mention electricity as a reference to cost; I mention lose pieces as a reference to the cost of replacing them, or the non-hard-currency cost of going without them.




Sorry if this post sounds harsh; I really like your posts, and you make a lot of good points, I just feel that you are being overly harsh on video games.
As a gamer, I find it odd that you would not embrace computer gaming; many people play both board and computer games, and there are several popular board games that have been faithfully recreated as online versions.
While playing online is nowhere near as social as playing offline, it does allow people to play their favourite board games even when they can't find friends who are willing to play with them.

Yehuda said...

Blaine, you're right, mostly. And I've come to reconcile more with the online gaming world, just as the online gaming world has become more respectful of the offline gaming world.

My points were aimed at the prevailing bulk of online games and gamers. But, just like in fast food restaurants, you can make better or worse choices about what you consume, whether games of food. It's personal responsibility, but it's also a matter of what is presented and what is sold and how.

Yehuda