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RPGGeek: The Most Useful Tool You’re Not Using
Posted By Martin Ralya On August 11, 2011 @ 1:02 am In Tools for GMs | 11 Comments
This past week, I finished entering and rating my entire RPG collection on RPGGeek, something I’ve been putting off for two years. I first posted about RPGG — which is part of Geekdo, the umbrella site that also includes BoardGameGeek and VideoGameGeek — almost exactly two years ago: Geekdo.com: Pure, Distilled Awesome.
RPGG is an amazing tool, and one that many GMs — and gamers in general — could benefit from using. It hasn’t yet gained the traction within the RPG community that I think it deserves.
So why aren’t more gamers using it? And why did it take me so long to really start using it myself?
Since 2009, RPGG has gone on to be nominated for an ENnie for Best Website and has grown by leaps and bounds. Many, many RPGs I couldn’t find in the database in 2009 are now in there, and a lot of the site’s other corners have been filled out.
At its heart, RPGG is a database, the infrastructure around it, and the community around that. Like BGG, it’s one of the friendliest and most welcoming communities on the web, well-moderated and generally populated by nice, intelligent folks.
It’s no overstatement to say that BoardGameGeek changed my boardgaming life. I own, play, and enjoy more boardgames now than ever before, and not just by a little, by a lot. For me, BGG has been an eye- and door-opener in the same way that getting my first iPod rekindled and expanded my love of music. RPGGeek has already started changing my gaming life, and I expect it to keep doing so.
Unfortunately for me, RPGG’s birth coincided with having Lark and starting work on Eureka, and the prospect of entering and then rating my substantial RPG collection was just too daunting.
So after getting a solid start, I put it off for two years.
Now that it’s done, I can attest to the power of rating RPGs. Nothing focuses my opinions and clarifies my tastes quite like rating things.
When I rated my whole music library, I figured out what I really liked and started seeking out music that was more directly to my tastes. I listen to a lot more music now, and I like what I listen to more.
When I rated my boardgames, both owned and played, I figured out what I really liked and started buying and playing much better games, and having more fun playing them. Why play bad games?
When I rated my RPGs, including actual books, game lines, and games played (more on this in a minute), I figured out what I really liked — and I fully expect to spend more time playing the games that are right for me now that it’s all there in cold, hard numbers.
Here are a couple of links to what I’ve rated so you can get a feel for how this looks on the actual site: every RPG I’ve ever played and every gaming product I own (except magazines — I haven’t done those yet). You can click on “Rating” to sort by ascending/descending, if you like.
The key to the RPGG database is that it’s divided into types, the two biggest of which are RPG Items and RPGs (there are also useful types like Setting, Family, and others).
RPG Items are products (physical or digital). You can rate RPG Items whether you’ve played them or not — everyone feels differently about that. I rate all of mine, because unlike boardgames it’s not hard to tell whether an RPG will be good or not just by reading it. Ratings are a journey, not a destination; they’re supposed to change over time.
RPGs are the games themselves, only to be rated if you’ve played them. I’ve rated over 575 RPG Items, but only about 60 RPGs. Even if I’ve only played a game once, I rated it; that’s a less nuanced rating than the one for a game I’ve played for years, but still useful.
Rating items is interesting, and made some surprising things clear to me — like the fact that although D&D 4e books with lots of crunch are well-written and -designed, by and large I hate that design; they got low ratings.
But it’s the RPGs that really shine a light on your tastes. The system is set up for rating games based on how well they suit your personal tastes and how much you want to play them, and it’s a harsh mistress. Games I spent years playing but in retrospect really didn’t enjoy got low ratings despite the nostalgia; games I’ve only played a few times that hit all my hot buttons got high ratings.
If you’ve read D&D Is Like a Crazy Ex I Keep Going Back To, you know that I have a problem when it comes to playing games I’m not really enjoying without fully realizing what I’m doing. Rating my collection will go a long way towards solving that problem.
And really, that’s a lot like GMing itself: It’s work, but by and large you love it anyway.
Sure, you can sign up for a free account and just hang out in the forums and take advantage of the tools the site offers, but to really get the most out of RPGG you need to rate your games.
The site itself, despite being very well documented and having tools to help you navigate it, can also be intimidating — it’s incredibly information-dense. All that information is a large part of why it’s so awesome, but it also steepens the learning curve a bit.
Head over to RPGG and sign up for an account. It’s free, and also gets you access to BGG and VGG (I love BGG, but don’t use VGG).
Then search for and add to your collection every RPG you’ve ever played (which you do by marking them as “owned”), and rate them all. Write a comment if you like; I find that helpful, and I love reading others’ comments.
If that doesn’t reveal something about your tastes that you didn’t already know, or crystallize your opinion about a game or two, maybe RPGG isn’t for you. But if it does — and I think it well — then you’re down the rabbit hole, and I suspect you’ll get a lot out of the site.
There’s more to love about RPGG than just the ratings — like I said, it’s a great community, and there are many other tools there, as well — but it’s the ratings that provide me with the most concrete return on my time investment.
I was selected to be RPGG’s Geek of the Week this week, the 83rd since the site’s inception — which was the impetus for getting my whole collection cataloged and rated.
If you’d like to drop by and ask me questions about being a huge dork, I’d love to hear from you.
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