Board game awards are fickle. There is no perfect system for determining the best game and there never will be. The BGG list is populist and biased towards the recent due to the audience of users growing, though I do admit it’s interesting. Individual critic lists, including my own, showcase the tastes of that critic but have no claim to broad appeal. Organizational awards, such as the Spiel, are often inscrutable and surprising.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these lists or rankings as long as we don’t take them too seriously. The very point is to express taste and prompt discussion–or at least it should be. It’s not the list itself that matters so much as what we gain from thinking about and discussing the list. Our reaction to a list can be revelatory.
Of all the lists of all the things, my favorite is the Sight and Sound Poll, for a few reasons. First, it has a long and prestigious history, starting in 1952 and running only every 10 years. Participation is invite-only, and the people who respond are important indeed to the study and creation of film worldwide. Second, it’s eclectic. It has each person list 10 films they deem the greatest, using any criteria they want, and studying the individual lists is certainly more fun and interesting than analyzing the aggregate results. Finally, it sparks discussion. Some of my favorite film writing has been in response to this poll.
In the board game world I’m not sure if anything like this has been attempted. I’d live to give it a try. I can’t assume the prestige of something like Sight and Sound because that takes many long years, but it has to start somewhere. I can’t necessarily limit the invitations to only legends because our hobby is so new. But I can try to capture a diverse and experienced group of people so that we can peek briefly into their minds and find something about ourselves.
Here’s how this is going to work. Participation in the poll will be limited to established board game critics and designers. A critic is someone who has reviewed board games regularly for at least one year. A designer is someone who has designed at least two published board games OR one game in the BGG top 2000. If you meet the criteria and would like to participate please fill out the form below to get on the mailing list. If you’re not sure if you meet the criteria or not, err on the side of inclusion.
If you are not a critic or designer but want to see this happen, please share this post! This endeavor will absolutely fizzle out into nothing if it does not get shared far and wide.
On Sep 1 I will send an email to all who sign up with the poll itself. Like Sight and Sound it will instruct people to list what they believe to be the 10 greatest card, board, and dice games of all time, leaving the specifics of what “greatest” means to each individual participant. There will be space for notes/commentary/explanation. Soon after I will post the results, both the aggregated list and each individual list. Hopefully a healthy and lively discussion ensues.
Once again, I will be relying on you, fans of board games, to spread the word and help this little experiment perhaps become something.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, please email me: marc[at]thethoughtfulgamer.com