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BoardGameGeek is a website that was founded in January 2000 by Scott Alden and Derk Solko as a resource for the board gaming hobby. The database holds reviews, articles, and session reports for over 74,000 different games, expansions, and designers. BoardGameGeek includes German-style board games, wargames, card games and other tabletop games. Even public-domain card games like Spades are included. The site also features bulletin boards, a marketplace, several online boardgames, and a gamer database to help gamers find each other in the same location. BoardGameGeek was the recipient of a 2010 Diana Jones Award, which recognized it as "a resource without peer for board and card gamers, the recognized authority of this online community."
In 2009, there was an attempt to integrate BoardGameGeek along with similarly styled websites for roleplaying games and video games under a parent site Geekdō. Scott Alden announced in August 2010 that the Geekdō domain would be disbanded, while retaining individual domain names for Board Game Geek, RPG Geek, and Video Game Geek.
In addition to the game database, one of the more controversial features of BoardGameGeek is the statistical information obtained from player ratings. The site allows users to rate games on a 1–10 scale. The average and Bayesian average ratings are presented for each game. The Bayesian system adds dummy ratings in order to pull the average of games with fewer ratings closer to the overall mean. It is this set of averages that is used to generate a ranked list of games. Only games with at least 30 ratings are included in the ranked list. Ratings themselves may not be rated.
In 2006, an additional list of top-ranked wargames was created. Due to the generally smaller number of ratings these games receive, they often become lost in the overall rating list. In 2010 other category lists were introduced, including Abstract Games, Customizable Games, Children's Games, Family Games, Party Games, Strategy Games, and Thematic Games.
Players can also rate how light or heavy (essentially its complexity in rules and/or gameplay) a game is on a scale of 1–5, though this is not used in the calculation of the rankings. Over the last five years, the only three games that have achieved #1 in the rankings are Puerto Rico, Agricola, and Twilight Struggle.
BoardGameGeek is a large, international community with over 1,000,000 users, as of February 18, 2015. One major activity is the creation of GeekLists, which are lists of games based on a particular theme, or games that people want to trade. There are forums in which members discuss such issues as the merits of theme versus mechanics, European versus American design, and how to best calculate game rating statistics. Gamers can also get to know each other online by using the chat room and asking and answering "GeekQuestions". There is a large community of Werewolf players, and online games are frequently arranged on the forums. A Secret Santa gift exchange was introduced several years ago, with more than 1700 participants in 2010.
GeekGold and other rewards
The site uses a virtual currency, GeekGold, to reward users who provide site content, including entries for new games, pictures of games, game reviews, game sessions, rule translations, and play aids. GeekGold was originally awarded only by administrators, but an automated moderation system is now in place, whereby users can vote on submission approvals and award GeekGold to other users. GeekGold can be used to purchase an avatar as well as various types of badges. It can also be transferred from one user to another in the form of "tips".
When it was first released, GeekGold could not be purchased with actual money, but this has changed in recent years. During a brief period in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina people were able to purchase GeekGold with money and all of the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross, with a total of $36,403 raised between September 1, 2005 and September 9, 2005. GeekGold is occasionally traded for actual money or games, and there are even special auctions in which members can purchase games and accessories with GeekGold. Beginning January 2, 2008, the site began giving its donors one GeekGold for every dollar donated. The new GeekGold reward was announced as "a small token of thanks" to supplement the "supporter badges" previously given to donors. Direct GeekGold-for-money transfers between users generally result in a much superior exchange rate of 40-50 GeekGold to the dollar. GeekGold is also used to trade for games and accessories in GeekAuctions and Games-for-GeekGold Lotteries.
Another system for rewarding individual effort is the use of a "thumbs up" icon for good contributions. Any user can award a thumbs up whenever he or she sees something that deserves recognition. Thumbs are recorded on a user's profile, but unlike GeekGold, they cannot be used to purchase benefits. For a short period of time, one could also give a thumbs down to content, but this was removed due to user complaints.
Beginning in 2005 Scott Alden and Derk Solko inaugurated an annual boardgaming convention called BGG.CON. While the convention was open to anybody it was overwhelmingly attended by registered users of BoardGameGeek, and was heavily promoted on the website.
The first BGG.CON was held at The Westin City Center in Dallas Texas (now closed) and had an attendance of 250 people. The convention was organized primarily around open gaming, and it featured a large game library from which attendees could check out a game. Other scheduled events included a flea market, a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, a game show contest, and grand prize drawings. In 2006 attendance increased to 400 persons. A treasure hunt was added to the list of scheduled events, and the Golden Geek Awards were presented for the first time.
The Westin City Center in Dallas Texas held the following events
- 2005 November 15–18
- 2006 November 9-12
In 2007 BGG.CON was moved to The Westin DFW in Irving, TX in order to accommodate growth in attendance. This location hosted the following events
- 2007 November 15–18
- 2008 November 20–23
- 2009 November 19–22
- 2010 November 17–21
- 2011 November 16–20
In 2012, the convention was again moved to a larger venue to accommodate the growth of even more attendees, this time to the Hyatt Regency DFW hotel inside the grounds of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, TX. This new location has been used for the following events
- 2012 November 14–18
- 2013 November 20-24
Merger of BoardgameNews.com with BoardGameGeek
In the final months of 2010, BoardgameNews.com, an industry-specific news site dedicated to providing large quantities of news and commentary regarding board games announced that it would be merging with BoardgameGeek.com.
BoardgameNews also contained editorial columns by guest writers. Those writers decided to create their own web site to keep their independence, Opinionated Gamers and thus this content was not transferred to BoardGameGeek
Golden Geek Award
2006 was the first year of the Golden Geek Awards which are to be given annually to the best new games of the year as selected by registered BoardGameGeek users. The awards use the Schulze method to determine the winners. From 2010 the RPGGeek and VideoGameGeek sites joined the Golden Geek Awards The award categories and winners are listed below.
- "Boardgamegeek.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
- The Dice Tower: Interviews by an Optimist #32 - Scott Alden Retrieved December 29, 2006
- KublaCon: Special Guests Aldie and Derk Retrieved December 29, 2006
- 1,000,000 Users!
- GeekGold for Katrina Relief [Ends Friday!] | BoardGameGeek Forums Retrieved September 3, 2008
- Geekgold - what the gosh darn heck is THAT about? | BoardGameGeek Forums Retrieved September 3, 2008
- BGG News Retrieved February 22, 2008
- GeekGold Exchange Rate Retrieved February 22, 2008
- BGG News Retrieved September 3, 2008
- "The Past and Future of Boardgame News". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2012-11-10.