Analysis Paralysis: Ask “The Geek”

Setup

Some gamers have a problem with spending too much time analyzing the game state before making a move. I usually don’t suffer from this affliction (or should I say my gaming buddies don’t suffer from my affliction), but most gamers will succumb to this to some degree at some point. I usually don’t get too bothered by this. I am by nature an analytical person and can get wrapped around the axel at times when all I really needed was a quick answer. A common example is when I am working on a game design and I wonder if a particular mechanic or theme or combination of these has been used before. Am I doing something new or inadvertently rehashing something already done. I end up doing a lot of research on the subject instead of just plowing through my design iterations. Maybe I am looking for convenient distractions so I don’t have to think so hard on the design.

Round 1

Another common occurrence that will set me into a spin is when a gamer or podcaster (or all the above) makes a definitive statement about games or the hobby game industry with no analysis. I don’t feel the need “to be right” or to correct people, but when I hear these statements I can’t help myself but to research and analyze the basis of the statement. There is probably a Myers Briggs test result out there somewhere that explains this personal proclivity. If you are wondering what I am talking about, here are a few examples and their categories I might research:

Games by Type

  • “There are too many [insert theme here] games. That’s all they make these days.”
  • “There are too many [insert mechanic here] games. That’s all they make these days.”

Kickstarter

  • “No good games come from Kickstarter.”
  • “Kickstarter is just a glorified preorder system these days.”

Game Publication History

  • “There weren’t any good games before [some year].”
  • “[Some year] was the last great year of game design.”
  • “We are now in the Golden Age of Game Design.”
  • “There is an explosion of new games published each year.”
  • “Publisher [A] had a banner year [some year].”

Round 2

It isn’t that I expect to prove these statements as inaccurate. In fact, I expect that the analysis will prove some to be true, but I can’t help ask for the factual, personally unemotional, evidence – to say, “Prove it.” This bloodhound mentally can paralyze me from doing anything that I wanted to do until I “get to the bottom of it.” This is the form of Analysis Paralysis that afflicts me. Fortunately, there is an awesome game data source available to aid me on my quest: BoardGameGeek, that is, “The Geek.” I can research and analyze data from The Geek and anyone else can use the same resource to challenge my analysis. I will use “The Geek” as my primary data source, but in the case of Kickstarter, there is another excellent data source: Kicktraq that may be equally useful. Additional sources may be used and cited when that happens.

Like any data source, The Geek requires analysis of the data source itself.  I have performed some of this metadata analysis previously in my Hobby Game Trends series, but will include any assumptions or manipulations of the data in answering each question.

In this new series of blog posts labeled “Analysis Paralysis” I will offer up my analysis addressing some of these common statements as well as the questions that come up in my own discovery and design efforts (like, "Is there room for another social deduction game? What hasn't been done with Social Deduction?"). Depending on the nature of the question at hand, these may appear in any of the blog categories (Game Design, Gaming, or Industry)

Your Turn

Do you hear statements like these that drive you mad? What are the statements or questions you would like to have addressed or answered?

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