Today I will share with you all my thought process behind reviewing board games and books. Specifically, I want to share the how I approach reviewing and why I have selected this method.
When I read other people’s reviews, I find a variety of different ways folks structure their reviews and rate or recommend them at the end. As I was getting into blogging, I experimented with a variety of structures for both my book reviews and my board game reviews. Initially I created a criteria and categories which would correspond to a numerical value. For example for board games, I would look at the mechanics, artwork/theme, fun factor, etc. and each category would be worth 2 points out of a total of ten. For books, I started to look at plot, character development, and other literary aspects with a similar assignment of a numerical value. While writing these types of reviews, I felt very constrained with my writing about different games I played and books I read. I was constantly comparing them to each other and focused less on what I loved about them and the specific issues I had. For a long while, I stopped writing board game reviews because I dreaded using such a structured format. I knew I needed to change how I approached my reviews if I was going to sustain my blog.
As I am reading, I do not take notes. As the story progresses, I start forming a gut opinion which usually comes out as a number (0 being the worst and 5 being the best). The story continues and I hone in on that number out to one decimal point. I can usually tell before I finish a book, what my final rating will be. Very few books have a twist ending that will completely change my view of the book up till that point. Then, I open up my blog editor and write down that number first at the bottom of the page. I usually sit on a book for two or three days to process my experience and reflect on the story. Then, the writing starts!
As for games, I need at least 2-5 plays of a game before I can start honing into a numerical rating for that game. This allows me to adjust for different factors that may affect my first impressions of the game such as the people I am playing with, the mood I am in during the game, learning the rules / messing up the rules, and the different strategies I could explore with each additional play. After the second play, I usually have a good grasp on my numerical rating. I do not always sit and reflect on my gaming experiences since I usually play the game over the course of weeks.
When I write my reviews, I simply sit down to write my stream of consciousness thoughts. What stood out to me? What touched me? What did I have issues with? This creates (for me at least) a narrative about the book or game that flows well. When I was writing in the different categories, I always thought my writing felt… constricted and read very systematic. With my thoughts all out on the page, I can go back and edit and organize how I want but the majority of the work is done and in the order I want it to be. Most of the time, I change very little in the editing process. A lot of my reviews tend to be heavily focused on a few areas of the book or game and that is a direct result of my process. I enjoy writing in this style and it makes me more excited to write reviews because I can honestly talk about what impacted me without trying to fill a form.
Well that’s it! The secret is out on my reviews. I hope you enjoyed reading!
How do you approach reviewing a book or board game? Do you use a numerical rating and if so, based on what criteria?