Board Games · RPGs

Tracking Collections Using Board Game Geek

collecting top

The website, Board Game Geek, is a fantastic resource.  Founded in the year 2000, it is the definitive database of board and card games, cataloguing many tens of thousands of items.  On top of this, there are two sister sites, Video Game Geek and RPG Geek, both of which also track tens of thousand of items, for a total of over 150,000 tracked games and related items.  The sites are pretty comprehensive.

Collections  

In addition to the copious amounts of information available on a huge range of games, one of the best features of these sites is the collection manager.  As you explore the database, you can add items to your wishlist or your collection.  You can also give games a score out of ten and record your plays.  I’ve never had the inclination or, to be honest, the patience to record my plays, but I do use Board Game Geek and RPG Geek to record my collections and give score ranking to my games.  I have not done this with Video Game Geek, because I really don’t care about video games to the same extent.  That’s a reflection on my tastes and not on the Video Game Geek site.  You can see some of my top ranked games and my incredibly patchy record keeping around plays in this screenshot:

ratings

I use the collection manager solely to record the games I own, but there’s also the facility to log the games you have played and games that you hope to acquire.

let’s drop some links:

One other interesting feature of Board Game Geek (and only Board Game Geek) is their API.  This allows a number of third party tools and services to access your collection and use the data in new and different ways.

Third Party Tools

One of these is Board Game Menu, a site that harvests data from your Board Game Geek collection to create a suggested menu for a board game night based on a few different factors – most notably the number of expected players.  It’s actually a pretty cool, if rather simple, little tool.  It breaks down a random selection of suitable games into several categories:

  • Appetizers: light, short games which are often considered ‘filler’ titles
  • Light Fare: middleweight games, up to about an hour in length
  • Main Course: heavier, longer games that will probably be the main game of the night

Here’s a snapshot of a sample main course from my own collection:

game menu

You can see the whole menu (4 players games from my collection) by clicking here, or go to Board game Menu’s main page by clicking here.

Another really good tool is Gameshelf, a filtering tool that takes your Board Game Geek collection and makes recommendations based on player count, game type, play time and rating.  Like Board Game Menu, Gameshelf will also allow you to combine multiple collections, letting you draw recommendations from the combined collections of your whole gaming group.  It also identifies which expansions for each game are available in your collection, as shown in this screenshot, recommending the fantastic Cosmic Encounter:

gameshelf

You can visit Gameshelf by clicking here, or see it in action on my own collection by clicking here.

Although these are the tools that I know and use, there are several more, as detailed on this page at Board Game Geek.

Areas For Improvement  

As fantastic as the system at Board Game Geek is, there are some areas that could be improved.  First and foremost, would be rolling out similar APIs at RPG Geek and Video Game Geek.

The sites also employ a dated appearance, though work has been done recently to update the game page template on Board Game Geek.  You can see the old style over at RPG Geek by clicking here, and the new style at Board Game Geek by clicking here.  Both styles are very information-dense, but the newer style has a sleeker, more streamlined appearance.  Board Game Geek’s front page still needs a lot of work, though – it’s an overly-busy, cluttered mess.

Returning the actual point of this article, I think the collection page is very strong and comparatively well-designed, but I think that played games and wishlists need to be separated out into their own pages.  This is not currently done by default and you need to filter them out each time you go to the page if you want to view solely the games that you actually own.  It’s not a huge issue, but it’s just another example of why the site is not particularly user friendly.

I don’t think they have any particularly pressing features to add, as it is quite comprehensive.  It’s just a matter of tidying things up and encouraging more third party developers to do cool things with the API.

Conclusion  

Use the collection feature of Board Game Geek.  It’s the best feature of an incredible site, and it’s very useful.  If you already use it, or if you decide to give it a go, please share a link to your collection in the comments below.  It’s always interesting to see what other people like, and the ratings are probably the most interesting bit of looking at other people’s collections.

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