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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

× Talk about whatever you like related to games that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Rodney Smith discussing Paid/Unpaid reviews

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22 May 2019 17:04 - 22 May 2019 17:12 #297499 by Josh Look
So I see a lot of what everyone is saying here, but I think everyone is going to interpret what’s out there differently. Sadly, that kind of sucks that’s the reason why this is such a sticky topic.

-So I like what Rodney does and if I pick a new game up, I will check to see if he has a video up on how to play it. I’ve read enough rulebooks now, I hate reading them and I’m not going to stop learning new games, so yeah, here I am. I also suck at learning games correctly. Ask Uba and Al, I’m the worst. I like his teaching style above everyone else I’ve seen out there, so he’s my go to. I AT NO POINT INTERPRET WHAT HE’S DOING AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF A PRODUCT. That idea just does not land for me. It might for some people, and frankly, I think those people need to wisen the fuck up. I’ve already spent the money on the game and I don’t pick games based on whether or not I can find a video that teaches me how to play it.

-Paid previews and people who do reviews should not mix. Ever. Seriously, don’t fucking do it. I may know the difference between a preview and a review, but why the hell else would you be hiring a reviewer to do a preview? Their video skills? THE DICE TOWER’S VIDEO SKILLS ARE FUCKING ASS. (The all kind of are, to be fair).

-His bit about unpaid reviews doesn’t apply to everyone, especially folks around here, but the average BGG user review? You bet. The people who aren’t really doing this with any aspirations other than to get the word out on a game when there may not be any, you’ve gotta ask that yourself that question if you can trust it. Christ, especially in this day of expensive Kickstarters with that dopamine hit of deluxe components. Only people I know who ever have top shelf, rave opinions of Cthulhu Wars, mediocrity in cardboard and plastic if there ever was such a thing, are the people who paid for it. Just sayin.
Last edit: 22 May 2019 17:12 by Josh Look.
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22 May 2019 17:11 - 22 May 2019 17:18 #297502 by Space Ghost

Michael Barnes wrote: He may honestly not think that he is a paid marketer, but I can assure you that the companies paying him for Watch it Played videos do


This is the key here -- the companies wouldn't be paying for it if they didn't think it increased sales. And, unless they are a small company, then they know it increases sales. Michael is right -- all it takes is someone opening a box and showing what's inside it. Things get better if they're affable and communicate well.

I've done a lot of consulting for designing systems for both product placement and targeted advertisement mailings to maximize revenues. We've used everything, from survey responses stores have to Nielsen ratings for different kinds of shows. I worked with one company that could predict, with high likelihood, the probability of a randomly sampled person from each in a metropolitan area of Maryland purchasing a boat within six months of beings sent a brochure. Then, they update their data, and the next targeting is even more accurate.
Last edit: 22 May 2019 17:18 by Space Ghost.
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22 May 2019 17:50 #297508 by Hadik
Observing from the sidelines here and thinking about how both previewers and reviewers are game industry gatekeepers.

A large segment of gamers are influenced to think only about what the the gatekeepers tell them to think about.

In this sense whether someone is paid or not is irrelevant. They are, by definition, game company marketing machinery.
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22 May 2019 17:57 #297509 by Space Ghost

Josh Look wrote:
-So I like what Rodney does and if I pick a new game up, I will check to see if he has a video up on how to play it. I’ve read enough rulebooks now, I hate reading them and I’m not going to stop learning new games, so yeah, here I am. I also suck at learning games correctly. Ask Uba and Al, I’m the worst. I like his teaching style above everyone else I’ve seen out there, so he’s my go to. I AT NO POINT INTERPRET WHAT HE’S DOING AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF A PRODUCT. That idea just does not land for me. It might for some people, and frankly, I think those people need to wisen the fuck up. I’ve already spent the money on the game and I don’t pick games based on whether or not I can find a video that teaches me how to play it.


So many rulebooks are so poorly written, I think that makes sense -- although, I still prefer to read the rulebook. Videos are painfully slow.

Unless he is told which games to preview and has no choice in the matter, I assume he is almost always endorsing what he shows. He has to like it enough to preview it or teach how to play it. Also, I would say that you are not the audience everyone is referencing since you bought the game first and then find the video -- I would bet that there is a sizable audience who watches "how to play" videos before purchasing.

People need to definitely wisen up.
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22 May 2019 18:04 #297510 by Michael Barnes
You know what really stinks about all this is it’s really the only thing in games to argue about about anymore...not like the old days and “is the Imperial strategy card broken” or “how much Rex sucks even though it’s still Dune”.
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22 May 2019 18:08 #297511 by Erik Twice

Hadik wrote: In this sense whether someone is paid or not is irrelevant. They are, by definition, game company marketing machinery.

I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. Writing opinions on boardgames doesn't turn people into "game company machinery" anymore than you writing this post does.
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22 May 2019 18:17 #297512 by Space Ghost

Michael Barnes wrote: You know what really stinks about all this is it’s really the only thing in games to argue about about anymore...not like the old days and “is the Imperial strategy card broken” or “how much Rex sucks even though it’s still Dune”.


I think that is the real problem with both Kickstarter and the so-called "golden age" of boardgames (treating those as separate, as the former just amplifies the product churn in the latter -- I think it would be the same if there was no kickstarter; games have become too popular). There are so many games we don't have a shared set of games to talk about anymore -- just a handful of people playing a few niche games.

On this site, how many of us have played Midara for instance -- my, you, and Charlie? What about Brook City -- me and hotseatgames? Navajo Wars -- Gary Sax, you, me, and maybe a couple of other people.

What the hell would we even put in a trashdome anymore?

It's destroying the hobby -- not because of the reasons that people usually claim, but because there can be little critical discussion, which is the real place that opinions and arguments are honed and refined, and in a healthy system, worked back into the development of new games.

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22 May 2019 20:23 #297516 by san il defanso

Space Ghost wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: You know what really stinks about all this is it’s really the only thing in games to argue about about anymore...not like the old days and “is the Imperial strategy card broken” or “how much Rex sucks even though it’s still Dune”.


I think that is the real problem with both Kickstarter and the so-called "golden age" of boardgames (treating those as separate, as the former just amplifies the product churn in the latter -- I think it would be the same if there was no kickstarter; games have become too popular). There are so many games we don't have a shared set of games to talk about anymore -- just a handful of people playing a few niche games.

On this site, how many of us have played Midara for instance -- my, you, and Charlie? What about Brook City -- me and hotseatgames? Navajo Wars -- Gary Sax, you, me, and maybe a couple of other people.

What the hell would we even put in a trashdome anymore?

It's destroying the hobby -- not because of the reasons that people usually claim, but because there can be little critical discussion, which is the real place that opinions and arguments are honed and refined, and in a healthy system, worked back into the development of new games.


This probably should be its own thread, but I think this is a big problem as well. I really can't engage with the hobby in its current form anymore because I live way the heck in Southeast Asia and can't get anything new for months, so I'm basically frozen my engagement right around 2012-2013, with a few newer games sprinkled in.

An underrated aspect of this whole thing is that the really fast churn actually makes the hobby MORE centered on North America, because the hype train has already left the station by the time the rest of the world has gotten the title.
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22 May 2019 20:51 - 22 May 2019 23:34 #297517 by n815e

He's in a line of work that is not highly valued by its consumers, so he (and all his competitors) need to use his consumers as a product instead of a client. That's the nature of the business, all the talk in the world isn't going to change that fundamental problem.



There has to be a relationship of trust.

When I look at a review from NPI and I know that they are funded by fans and have read stories of publishers being unhappy with their reviews, costing them free copies... that establishes trust with me.

When I look at Undeadviking and know he gets paid for his opinions from companies and every game is great from him... He establishes trust with his customers.

I know which “relationship” is more valuable to me. Not everyone understands that distinction and that’s why infomercials are doing so well with board gamers right now.
Last edit: 22 May 2019 23:34 by n815e.
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22 May 2019 22:40 - 22 May 2019 22:41 #297520 by Sagrilarus
A relationship of trust is difficult when you suspect the other guy has a sales relationship that depends on your money.

I’ve never seen one of Rodney’s Play-it videos, but he more or less indicated in this lecture that it's our fault that he and his colleagues take money from publishers. Don't know if that was his intention, but it sure felt like he was working hard to reassign blame.
Last edit: 22 May 2019 22:41 by Sagrilarus.
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23 May 2019 05:19 #297525 by Msample

Sagrilarus wrote: A relationship of trust is difficult when you suspect the other guy has a sales relationship that depends on your money.

I’ve never seen one of Rodney’s Play-it videos, but he more or less indicated in this lecture that it's our fault that he and his colleagues take money from publishers. Don't know if that was his intention, but it sure felt like he was working hard to reassign blame.


I stopped after 5 minutes when it became apparent his video was more about self justification than taking a stand on the subject.

And the PERFECTLY arranged Kallax of mostly boring games behind him is distracting AF because all I can think about it is “can I trust someone who likes Small World?”
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23 May 2019 10:02 #297532 by ChristopherMD
I'm going to ask the BIG question here. Can this issue realistically be changed for the better at this point? Seems like there would need to be consensus on it and I don't see that happening.
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23 May 2019 10:49 - 23 May 2019 10:51 #297536 by ubarose

ChristopherMD wrote: I'm going to ask the BIG question here. Can this issue realistically be changed for the better at this point? Seems like there would need to be consensus on it and I don't see that happening.


Actually there is a great deal of discussion going on behind the scenes between reviewers, content creators, designers, and publishers to reach consensus and codify best practices. It is happening in various smaller groups but there is cross pollination between them as there are individuals who are members of multiple groups. For example, I am in discussion right now with a group of people representing all aspects of the industry - designers, publishers, reviewers, content creators - who are attempting to define and clarify the various types of content and best practices regarding how it is presented. One of the goals is that we will define the various types of content and include those definitions as part of our editorial policies posted on our outlets . The sticking point is that Kickstarter managers often jumble unpaid reviews and paid content together on their campaign pages. There was a push to encourage Kickstarter mangers to label paid content as such. But this pretty much failed. So now content creators are considering if they should handle this contractually.

This video reflects some of that discussion.
Last edit: 23 May 2019 10:51 by ubarose.
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23 May 2019 15:37 #297549 by Shellhead
I'm stunned that there is even an argument about this topic.

A paid game reviewer who discloses payment by the publisher = marketer

A paid game reviewer who doesn't disclose payment by the publisher = shill

A paid game reviewer who discloses payment by a neutral party = journalist

A paid game reviewer who doesn't disclose payment by a neutral party = journalist

An unpaid game reviewer = a hobbyist

The definition of a review is a little blurry these days, but I consider unboxing videos to a form of review. A demo of the game or a detailed explanation of the rules could also influence potential buyers, and should probably also be considered a form of review.
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23 May 2019 17:15 #297554 by GorillaGrody
The TLDR on this is that the problem is capitalism, and specifically our ideologically-enforced inability to name it and to functionally track its progress.

Now, let me see if I can expand on this. No mass media in its history has been uncompromised. The nadir is probably those early television ads which depicted someone who plays a doctor on a television show talking about how smoking is good for you and gives you pep. Probably its pinnacle was the Bradley era of the Washington Post. I mean, maybe the Hearst era was worse, or the era in which it was heresy to print anything but bibles, I don’t know, but convincing pregnant women and children to smoke is pretty bad.

So, then, there’s a mere twenty-year separation between nadir and pinnacle, between these extreme instances of advertising being intertwined with content. These were not huge shifts in either intent or application; the Post that featured the Pentagon Papers still had cigarette ads in it. When we talk about an uncompromised era in the press we are talking about nothing; we are engaging in the worst sort of nostalgia, papering over the real past with an imagined one.

But things, I admit, have appreciably changed since then, such that this sort of totally false nostalgia comes easily to us, and goes unquestioned over pages and pages of forum argument. The secret here, I propose, is that it’s not due to the internet or its supposed speed. 50 years ago, we had the Pentagon Papers, television, movies, etc. 50 year before that, most houses didn’t have telephones, 50 years before that, you rode your horse into town to send a telegraph if you could afford it. The speed of information technology has been constant; dizzying, but constant, and never really running ahead of our capacity to understand it or profit from it. 50 years ago, capable people were able to negotiate capable pay for work in these media. Pauline Kael made a living reviewing media, and so did dozens of other reviewers across the country. Lots of people would have liked the job--you don’t think that my dad wouldn’t have wanted to write film reviews instead of installing carpet for a living? There were lots of mimeographed fanzines made by amateurs, too, that no one made a living from. What Pauline Kael had that my dad didn’t was trust derived not from her wage, but from her capability, and trust derived from anything but a negotiable wage is a very, very dangerous weapon to employ against an employer.

The difference is that we have all decided that labor--our own and especially others-- is not worth shit. With that belief has come a catastrophic collapse in the sort of trust we once had in capable work that underscores the worth of labor itself.

[Okay, goddamn it, here follows a paragraph explaining labor alienation which you should skip if you want to…. It requires a massive shift in the human psyche to dissociate labor from what it produces. This is a trauma on a civilizational as well as personal level, but it’s a necessary one if you’re going to sell your labor to an employer at a low enough rate that they are capable of profiting from it while still considering yourself smart for having done so. This weird and unnatural process is nonetheless a deeply normalized one, but it doesn’t come without a cost. When we were kids, we wanted to make things and dig in the dirt. Adults dismiss this activity as play, but this play is essentially labor, the sort of labor Marx thought highly of, the unalienated sort. Its fruits are the growing of things of the earth and the production of art and language of any sort, both of which are definitionally fundamental to human life. If left to flourish into adulthood uninterruptedly and guided carefully by the expertise of adults, this labor would provide everything necessary to live. If this all sounds like a ridiculous pipe dream, please consider the place of artists and farmers in modern society, and why it should be that either should be both oddly revered and paid abjectly.

So, blah-blah, whatever, labor has been alienated for 400 years and still doesn’t come naturally to us, must be forced on us, whatever. I like having labor collectivized and modernized to produce stuff like running water and medicine, so yeah, take kids out of the playgrounds and put them into schools, Marx would agree, so would you, and this has been a huge digression.]

Labor has long been alienated under capitalism, but it’s accelerated, and not because the internet makes things cheaply--compare the price of a book or a newspaper relative to wages between 1900 and 1970 (it declined steeply), and then consider how much money you’re forking over to cable companies per month for use of the internet (a lot more). No. It accelerated because we no longer fight for our labor, we no longer think of ourselves as players within that exchange. That is totally, totally alien to the way things have gone in the past. It’s the X factor that’s utterly new. People used to die on the front lines versus hired cops in order to have the right to an 8-hour day. Now we worship cops, cops who have labor unions we can’t hope for for ourselves.

The way in which we pay for that on a macro level is evident in the way we choose our president, our trust for one another, etc etc. But we’re talking about board game reviews, so let’s talk about the micro level.

Consider AI. Here’s the secret to AI--it’s never going to happen, not really. Stuff like AI cars requires a massive investment in infrastructure from nihilists that believe that jesus is going to come and take them to heaven any day now with all of their stuff and evaporate the rest of us. No. But that scanner in the grocery store? That works, but not because it’s AI. It works because you’re doing the labor. It transforms you into a scab. Let’s extrapolate from that. You pay Comcast 60 dollars a month for the right to go on facebook and provide facebook with free content in the form of your ranting about how Danaerys is acting unrealistically. Compare that to the “good old days”, where your mere 25 cent investment in a paper was all it took for you to understand that Roger Ebert was getting paid to write reviews in the Sun Times. Simple; you were paying him. Sure, he sat in bed with cigarette ads and, importantly, ads for movies, but there was not much question of his essential integrity. A removed wage had something to do with that, but you know what, it mostly had to do with the fact that he wasn’t a fucking carpet installer who volunteered the worth of his opinion as being something like negative-whatever-you-give-to-your-ISP per hour per peice of written content. Such a person is not to be trusted under any circumstances. Ebert, on the other hand, because of something essentail about the work he did, was valuable. If he left the Sun Times, his readership would go with him. He was, simply, good at reviewing movies. That’s intolerable leverage for an employer to bear.

So, my final, horrible realization is this. Anyone who cannot trace this essential trail of value to its source, anyone who’s opinion is worth negative-something dollars per piece, should not have a platform for their opinion. Sorry if that sounds less than egalitarian, but it’s true. It includes all of us here. It’s not that you don’t have the right to an opinion--the most important work that happens in terms of free speech happens among neighbors and friends, able to freely talk about what they like and what they don’t. Bad games, for instance, will still not be played in your immediate circle. No one needs to know that you think boob armour is great and that anyone who doesn’t like it is soy, or that Ping-Pong Pizza is secretly a child sex ring. Or any other opinion you’d have to pay someone to express and never, ever get paid for expressing. No one, ever. Maybe not even your friends.

The problem is large and civilizational, but not insurmountable, unless you’re a nihilist. Massive public money went into making Time Warner and Comcast possible. We take it back and nationalize it, as we once did with television. That’s a start. And the money that you used to pay to large, inert monopolies who give you “free” internet can now go to the content producers who actually, you know, make anything. Next, we start treating our labor on platforms like facebook and BGG (and, sorry, TWBG, too) as just that, labor. It would destroy those companies, but possibly leave TWBG intact, because TWBG does one thing right, at least: it curates writers who are worth listening to. That would begin to solve a lot of problems like democratic accountability and wage decline, a free press being also a worthwhile press. And, wow, it would make reviewing games worth not-negative dollars, too, a handy side effect. And it all starts with you looking at your own labor and deciding it should be worth more, and then looking at the person next to you and deciding that their labor is worth more, too. When was the last time you did that?

Rodney Smith is good at explaining games, provably so. I’ve used his tutorials several times, and it was well worth, say, 25 cents of my money to be able to skip some of the rulebooks he allowed me to skip. The poor guy just spent 15 minutes demonstrating what wages are--let me repeat that, what they are, not how much-- and then explaining why he should get one but probably won’t. That’s how far we’ve been reduced.
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