Board game reviews, news and commentary.
"The Meta Game": Is It Okay To Publicly Hate A Board Game?
The Meta game
Updated: Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Hello, I’m Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise, and welcome to a test run of a new series called “The Meta Game”. The idea is to present a live segment, followed by a short Q&A session on that topic, or anything else that comes up. Today, I’ll be taking questions using the YouTube chat thingie, so feel free to post them there. I may not get to every question, but, really, if not having your YouTube comment responded to immediately is the worst thing that happens to you today, well, consider that to be a pretty good day.

Alright, let’s kick things off with the presentation of today’s topic: Is It Okay To Publicly Hate A Board Game?

The main thing that started me thinking about this was the review of TENZI that was posted on Monday. Now, the TENZI review was an episode in my Thrift Sift series, where I talk about games that I get second-hand, usually from thrift stores and such. They’re typically tongue-in-cheek reviews, where I do a lot of experimentation. And usually, the games featured on Thrift Sift episodes aren’t… *ahem*... aren’t my favorites.

And, in certain ways, this can actually make these types of videos difficult to produce, and I think TENZI’s review is a perfect example of why that is.

First off, let me just put this out there first. Yeah, I think TENZI is a terrible game. It involves virtually no decision making or player interaction.

ADULT: “Here, kid, roll these dice until they’re all the same.”

KID: “Then what?”

ADULT: (THINKING) “You win.”

TENZI is my own personal least favorite game I have ever endured playing in my life. And I stand behind the opinions I expressed about the game in my review. And, of course, what’s important here, is that that’s just one person’s opinion; this one just happened to be made by some guy with a camera and microphone.

And that, that right there, THAT’S a point that I think some people miss. No, not the self-rationalizing platitude of “it’s just my opinion so cut me some slack”. No no, the point I think some people miss is that if you’re a guy with a camera and a microphone, your opinions are inevitably going to be held to a higher standard by your audience. Once you establish yourself as an “expert” in a field, then your opinions are potentially going to carry a lot more clout.

And that is why I think it’s very important to make the distinction between feeling superior to a game like TENZI, and feeling superior to the people who actually play and enjoy the game. Dislike a game all you want, just provide examples of the reasons why. That’s healthy. And, of course, be open to listening and considering the reasons why others like or dislike that game. That’s even healthier.

But, looking down on people just because they enjoy a game that you don’t -- even TENZI -- no, that’s not cool. If someone finds enjoyment in a game, any game -- even one that you think is critically flawed to the point where the game is a self-parody in futility -- if someone enjoys playing that game, then that’s absolutely all that matters. More power to ‘em, welcome to the hobby, fully equal fellow gamer.

I think industry professional Brittney Boe from GameWire said it best in a tweet she posted once: “Saying someone’s ‘not a real gamer’ is like saying someone’s ‘not a real eater’ because they don’t like the same food as you.”

So, I’ll wrap this up my favorite way to do so, by bringing it all back to me. When reviewing any game negatively, the primary challenges that I face are:

  1. To provide the reasons behind the opinions that you’ve formed about the game. Otherwise, you increase the odds of just coming across as a bully.

  2. To make sure the focus of your opinion remains on the game, and doesn’t spill over into a criticism of anyone who doesn’t share your opinion of the game.

Now, in the TENZI video, this was especially challenging, because one of the things I wanted to do in it was specifically contrast some of the glowing praise found in the Amazon reviews against my own experience with the game. And I worried quite a bit that this could come across as criticizing the people who made those comments, instead of the foibles of the game itself.

Now, did I succeed at keeping the criticism focused on the game? Well, that’s not up to me to decide. That’s something that’s going to be interpreted by each individual viewer of the video. But what is up to me, is that, as a guy with a camera and microphone, to remain aware of the impact that the words I record can have, and -- while not diluting the words that I want to convey -- still chose them wisely.
Share this article:

Help support Season 3!