Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unplayed games

I have too many games.

More accurately, I have too many unplayed games. I know this thanks to either Ian or Dan back in Austin, who convinced me to start logging my game plays on September 20th, 2006. I had scoffed at this notion for a while, thinking it too crazy anal about gaming, or the first step in the long road to obsessive stat-keeping about wins and losses. I don't want to become overly competitive and I don't want to juggle statistics over actual play.

After more than three years of logging plays, I've since changed my mind. I simply play too many games to remember them all, and sometimes I simply blonde out and forget. Most of the statistics stuff I look at has been calculated by someone else, so I don't need to do any heavy lifting. The actual work I do to keep track of this is pretty low- I used to keep a 99-cent notebook in my pocket and jot down the date and game title for later logging on BGG. Now that I have a magic Google phone (Android G1, for the record), I use the BGG App to simply log the play then and there. The time investment is much smaller- a few taps and it's done. I can get back to actual play and not mess with the grisly details.

On the other hand, the simple fact that I'm logging plays at all means that the grisly details exist for when I want to look at them. The incomparable Chris "Friendless" Farrell maintains a site of BGG Extended Stats, where he does all of the statistical heavy lifting. Some of these stats break down when considering game expansions and game books. I'm not log to log a "play" of a book, and I generally don't log plays of expansions.

The one critical stat that I want appears to be broken within BGG's SQL query, unless I just don't know how to do it. They have a search function for played games, and you can specify the maximum and minimum number of plays- but it appears to store zero plays as null instead of zero, so the query doesn't return what I expect.

Easy enough: download my collection data as CSV, sort by number of plays, pop the title column into Google Docs, add a bit of whiz-bang-fu, and lo and behold I have a working poor man's database to help me find what I need to play. (I had to remove expansions and books and the like by hand, but it's not so bad.) I also added columns to track games that I know I've played before the two major events before my logging epoch: Katrina and moving home. I know there are games I've played in the ancient dim misty past (say, high school) just as I know I played games in Austin before I started logging plays in BGG.

When I first started this project at the end of the November (after BGG.Con, I know that my game-buying will be severely curtailed in the next year or so), my collection was almost 45% unplayed, very uncomfortably close to half. Over the last thirty days, I've given away a small handful of games and played a baker's dozen of new-to-me and previously unplayed games. This is awesome and gets me to about 40% unplayed.

I don't have a numerical goal in mind, but if I can get at least one unplayed game to the table, or sold, or traded, or given away every week, I'll be happy.


Also, this is my 700th post. Huzzah!

2 comments:

Pete the Brit said...

woohoo on 700 posts :)

Better stop posting and get playing!!!!!

Russ Williams said...

I could tell you had too many unplayed games for almost as long as I've known you - no need for statistical analysis to see that! :)

Happy holidays, and play more games than you acquire! :)