Screenshot of the BoardGameGeek entry for The Settlers of Catan
|Owner||Scott Alden and Derk Solko|
BoardGameGeek is a website that was founded in January 2000 by Scott Alden and Derk Solko as a resource for the board gaming hobby. The database holds reviews, articles, and session reports for over 30,000 different games, expansions, and designers. BoardGameGeek includes card games and other tabletop games, as well as wargames and German-style board games. The site also features bulletin boards, a marketplace, several online boardgames, and a gamer database to help gamers find each other in the same location.
On July 31st, 2009, BoardGameGeek launched Geekdō, a parent site to both BoardGameGeek and the newly launched RPG Geek, a similarly styled website for roleplaying games.
In addition to the game database, one of the key features of BoardGameGeek is the statistical information obtained from player ratings. The site allows users to rate games on a 1–10 scale. The average and Bayesian average ratings are presented for each game. The Bayesian system adds dummy ratings in order to pull the average of games with fewer ratings closer to the overall mean. It is this set of averages that is used to generate a ranked list of games. Only games with at least 30 ratings are included in the ranked list.
In 2006, an additional list of top-ranked wargames was created, due to the generally smaller number of ratings these games receive, causing them to be lost in the overall rating list.
Players can also rate how light or heavy (essentially its complexity) a game is on a scale of 1-5, though this is not used in the calculation of the rankings.
BoardGameGeek is a large, international community with over 250,000 users, as of April, 2009. One major activity is the creation of GeekLists, which are lists of games based on a particular theme, or games that people want to trade. There are forums in which members discuss such issues as the merits of theme versus mechanics, European versus American design, and how to best calculate game rating statistics. Gamers can also get to know each other online by using the chat room and asking and answering "GeekQuestions." There is a large community of Werewolf players, and online games are frequently arranged on the forums. Board game related cartoons by Brian Barling occasionally appear on the front page.
Along with the growing membership at BoardGameGeek, a controversy has developed regarding how much individual users should be able to post controversial or potentially offensive content, and moderators have become more vigilant regarding what is and is not appropriate. This has led to the locking or deletion of various GeekLists and forum posts which were perceived as excessively hostile to individual members. Critics have argued that the posts were not intended to be taken seriously and that these acts constitute censorship.
In March 2007, BGG founder, Scott Alden banned a user for the first time in the history of the site on the grounds of violating the code of conduct.  In subsequent weeks there was considerable debate about whether the offending behavior constituted "personal attacks" or merely satire and banter, as well as the ethics of preventing a member from contributing to the website.
The site uses a virtual currency, GeekGold, to reward users who provide site content, including entries for new games, pictures of games, game reviews, game sessions, rule translations, and play aids. GeekGold was originally awarded only by administrators, but an automated moderation system is now in place, whereby users can vote on submission approvals and award GeekGold to other users. GeekGold can be used to purchase an avatar as well as various types of badges. It can also be transferred from one user to another in the form of "tips".
When it was first released, GeekGold could not be purchased with actual money, but this has changed in recent years. During a brief period in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina people were able to purchase GeekGold with money and all of the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross, with a total of $36,403 raised between September 1, 2005 and September 9, 2005. GeekGold is occasionally traded for actual money or games, and there are even special auctions in which members can purchase games and accessories with GeekGold. Beginning January 2, 2008, the site began giving its donors one GeekGold for every dollar donated. The new GeekGold reward was announced as "a small token of thanks" to supplement the "supporter badges" previously given to donors. Direct GeekGold-for-money transfers between users generally result in a much superior exchange rate of 5-10 GeekGold to the dollar.
A more recent reward system for individual effort is the use of a "thumbs up" icon for good contributions. Any user can award a thumbs up whenever he or she sees something that deserves recognition. Thumbs are recorded on a user's profile, but unlike GeekGold, they cannot be used to purchase benefits. For a short period of time, one could also give a thumbs down to content, but this was removed due to user complaints.
Beginning in 2005 Scott Alden and Derk Solko inaugurated an annual boardgaming convention called BGG.con. While the convention was open to anybody it was overwhelmingly attended by registered users of BoardGameGeek, and was heavily promoted on the website.
The first BGG.con was held November 3rd – 6th 2005 in Dallas, TX, and had an attendance of 250 people. The convention was organized primarily around open gaming, and it featured a large game library from which attendees could check out a game. Other scheduled events included a flea market, a texas hold em tournament, a game show contest, and grand prize drawings.
In 2006 the convention was held from November 9th – 12th and attendance increased to 400 persons. A treasure hunt was added to the list of scheduled events, and the Golden Geek Awards were presented for the first time.
The 2007 BGG.con was held from November 15th – 18th. It was moved to Irving, TX to accommodate growth in attendance.
The 2008 BGG.con was held from November 20th - 23rd in Irving, TX.
2006 was the first year of the Golden Geek Awards which are to be given annually to the best new games of the year as selected by registered BoardGameGeek users. The awards use the Schulze method to determine the winners. The award categories and winners are listed below.
|Category||2006 Winner||2007 Winner||2008 Winner||2009 Winner|
|Game of the Year||Caylus||Shogun||Agricola||Dominion|
|Best Gamers’ Game||Caylus||Shogun||Agricola||Le Havre|
|Best Wargame||Twilight Struggle||Combat Commander: Europe||Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage||Combat Commander: Pacific|
|Best Children's Game||Nacht Der Magier||Zooloretto||Chateau Roquefort||Sorry! Sliders|
|Best Two Player Game||Twilight Struggle||BattleLore and Commands & Colors: Ancients (tie)||Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage||Space Hulk (3rd Ed.)|
|Best Family Game||Ingenious||Zooloretto||Thebes||Pandemic|
|Best Light/Party Game||Diamant||Wits and Wagers||Say Anything||Time's Up! Deluxe|
|Best Card Game||-||Caylus Magna Carta||Race for the Galaxy||Dominion|
|Best Artwork/Presentation||-||BattleLore||Jamaica||Space Hulk (3rd Ed.)|
|Best Expansion||-||-||-||Pandemic: On The Brink|
|Best Print & Play Game||-||-||-||Dune Express|
|Most Innovative Game||-||-||-||Space Alert|