You’ve heard of a game that you’re interested in, but you want some insight on how to play the game and how others like it before purchasing. You have many resources to get information from, but a frequently used source now is online reviews. Written and video reviews are available for almost every game out there. However, something I’ve seen more and more recently that I wanted to call to attention is some of the comments I’ve seen on various reviews, and the weight of a single review.
Mostly, I’m referring to commenters that seem to have made their own final decision on a game (whether positive or negative) based on one review.
A review is an opinion, though the rules overview should be mostly unbiased. If the rules are bad, then I respect any reviewer’s right to rip them apart. As a reviewer, I’ve done it myself. But as a consumer, I don’t take one source’s score on a game as the be-all end-all in determining whether I will like a game or not. Besides, they are not me.
As with just about any product or service, I do a lot of looking around before I come to a decision. Some of my process involves knowing my review sources and what they may or may not be already biased towards. However, most people will just type in “(Insert Game Name Here) review” to Google and look in the first few links for a review, and go from there. I think that is a great way to find resources, and to even find a new tabletop source that you may come to love. But should one person’s opinion be the end of the line? No, I don’t think so.
I say this for many reasons. One is that its pretty easy to tell if someone hasn’t actually played the game, or worse, hasn’t fully read the rules. Those that have read the rules will notice this quickly as the review may be majorly off, especially if they’ve already experienced the game. But if you haven’t played the game, how are you to know? This is where I believe it is incredibly important to cross-reference reviews.
This isn’t to say that all reviewers have to be perfect with every detail. We have overlooked a rule before, and have updated our reviews accordingly. Oftentimes, one rule mistake can completely throw a game off track, and I’m sure that almost every reviewer has done this at one point or another. The way you figure that out is by doing your research.
While we stick to our opinions of games (with corrections if we’ve overlooked something), we hope that gamers don’t take any one review as the deciding factor in whether a game is right for them or not. Check out other points of view. See if your local board game group or store has a copy that you can play for yourself. Research the rules if they are available online. Not every game is right for every gamer, but just because one reviewer doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t!