Any gamer has probably done some impromptu gamer’s advisory, just as most avid readers have recommended books to others. Here are some tips for successful gamer’s advisory for board games.
To do good gamer’s advisory, you would want to match the topic, the difficulty or complexity, and the length of the game to the person to whom you are making recommendations. For example, I have had good luck with these matches:
- Marrying Mr. Darcy (not very complicated, about thirty minutes) with an English teacher who rarely plays games.
- Machi Koro for a business major who likes games of medium complexity and length.
- Pandemic for a medical student who likes to help people but does not have all night to play a game.
Just as Novelist or Amazon.com reviews can help with reader’s advisory questions, board gamers can use resources to help with gamer’s advisory. Checking in with other gamers or the owners of your local game store is a good way to learn about new games. If you’re at ALA this summer, come to the gaming pavilion!
Here are some of my favorite online resources:
- Board Game Geek: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/. This is my go-to site when I hear about a new game. Gamers will talk at length about the games, sometimes suggesting ways to tweak the game to make it better to play.
- I like Board Game Geek’s advanced search so much that I am listing it separately: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/advsearch/boardgame. You can look for games by length and complexity.
- Quantic Foundry (https://apps.quanticfoundry.com/surveys/start/gamerprofile/) asks you a series of questions, then suggests games based on your preferences.
Additionally, here are two websites that have free games to play online (handy if you want new games to recommend!):
- Highlights at en.boardgamearena.com include Carcassonne, Hanabi, Puerto Rico, Race for the Galaxy and Tokaido.
- Have a look at boiteajeux.net, too. Here, the highlights are Agricola and Concordia. Don’t be rattled by the French on the website; the games are still playable if you don’t speak it.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that gamer’s advisory is an art, not a science. So while the suggestion about matching a game’s complexity and length to a person’s preferences is good advice, it can be worthwhile to break that rule, too. People who might not usually like complexity might overlook that if the topic is right – give a wine-drinker Viticulture, and they might be drawn in even if they usually like easier games.
Have you had any successes with gamer’s advisory, or do you have tips you want to share? Comment below!
Allison Angell is the Head of Youth Services in Benicia, Calif., and has been a gamer for as long as she can remember. She earned her MLIS from the University of Illinois in 2000. She runs a monthly board games night at her library for all ages. Her favorite games include Concordia, Grand Austria Hotel, Agricola, Village, Pandemic, and Euphoria.