Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Pick Out a Game That You Will Enjoy

With both the gaming community and hobby expanding outwards faster than is perceptible, there is quite a variety of games, genres, publishers, producers, designers, and companies out there in the world jockeying for your 'dice-dollars'. Game stores, comic shops, bookstores, and even big box stores are carrying selections of games well beyond your standard compliment of Stratego, Clue, Risk, and Monopoly.  So the questions you ask yourself, as you stand before this wall of games are: How do I know what I'm buying? What's good? Is this going to be fun? The answer is simple: research; and it’s easier than you think.

    So we'll start under the assumption you have a game (or two) in mind. You're satisfied with the price. The packaging, promotion and concept seem appealing, but somewhere in the back of your thoughts linger some doubt. Not to worry. The first place to look for information about the game is the company website. Now, here, you may find that the company is giving you, the consumer an overload of how awesome this game is, how there is nothing like it, how easy it is to play, and just really putting the spotlight on the product. However, with a bit of digging on some sites like www.fantasyflightgames.com you can find rules and instructions on how to play, FAQ's, tutorials and errata. In addition, you can always log onto the forums and see what other players have to say.

    The next step is to find general gaming forums, or sites such as www.penandpapergames.com, or www.boardgamegeek.com. The former is a general gaming site with opinions, links, and general how-to's pertaining to gaming. The later is an extensive and complete guide to all things board gaming, including critiques, pictures, reviews, ratings, and a marketplace for all types of board games, from historical war-games to limited edition or games with limited pressings, as well as foreign market items. This is going to be more of an in-depth user guide to the games, how they play and general overview. Its going to be a bit more detailed than the company site as it will highlight not only the better aspects of the game, but the gritty shortcomings as well.

       Another step you can take if you are actively involved with social media is to check on a game's Facebook page, either official, or fan-made. This will give you a greater feel for the hype it generates and how well it has been received by the general populace. It will also have links to other similar pages to games from the same publisher, and gives you an opportunity to speak with people who have played the game, and who are interested in doing so. You can also go to your local conventions for more information. Most conventions nowadays, whether they are themed for comics, sci-fi, anime, etc. will have a large section for open gaming. By checking with the convention's website, and schedule of events, you may find that someone is running the game that you are interested in; or even better, the publisher could be running a demo of the game so that you can learn the ropes from the people who designed the game and market it to the public.

        But finally, the greatest source of information about a game should begin and end with your game store/comic store associate. They should be well versed in the trends of the game, if it sells, and if people are enjoying it. They'll be in tune with what people think and whether or not a game has been hyped, or if there is a great amount of interest in the game. They will also have access to industry magazines that will tell them about the product weeks, if not months in advance, and may have articles highlighting features of the product well before they hit the shelves.

        With so much out there to occupy your attention and to compete for your gaming dollar, it’s well worth the time to take and do a little legwork to see what you are getting yourself into. You'll find that when you do, your gaming dollars go farther, you enjoy the hobby a bit more, and you educate yourself in trends within the industry and become a little bit more of an expert yourself!

Make it a gaming day!

Geoff Barton
Miskatonic University

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