Gaming Pet Peeves

I’ve seen a lot of games while on this blogging journey.  When trying to formulate an opinion on a game, I try to look at every aspect:  Cover art, rule book, storage trays, components, replay ability, awards, accurate time ratings, age groups, on and on and on.   There are so many details that make a game good or bad, and I try to keep all of them in mind.  However, after playing so many games, I have also started to amass a list of things that just really cheese me off.  Those small things (and sometimes not so small) things that just make me want to shake the designer, or in some cases, the publisher.  So without further ado, here is my list of things that will greatly annoy this reviewer (and likely get you on my bad side).

1.) Giving yourself an award.

Yes, we all know that you think your game is cool.  Why else would you have put so much time and money into it?  But having your company give your own game a pretty golden seal for your box, well, that’s just lame and deceiving.  And I know why you do it, because Americans don’t read boxes.  We look at the pretty pictures and take in the visual appeal of the game as a whole.  We might even notice that the little gold seal says “Best new game of 2011”, but we don’t usually read the fine print that says who picked this as the best, aka your company.  If you need to count on your players being gullible in order to sell your game, it’s already suspect to me.  If it’s a good game, why be deceitful?

2.) Giant boxes, small product.

This is another example of preying on the gullibility of Americans.  For some reason the American psyche always assumes that bigger is better.  That something is worth paying a little more for because it’s bigger.  Why would I pay $40 for a card game?  But a big board game in a big box?  Well, that must be worth $40, right?   It sickens me when I see companies prey upon this fact and put nothing more than a deck of cards and some dice into a huge box.  Not only is it deceitful, but it takes up valuable space for retailers on their shelves, and for gamers in their closets.

3.) Spaghetti Instructions: “See Section A, Diagram 57, on Page 34”

Rules that are segmented and continually reference other portions of the rules drive me crazy.  I call this spaghetti rules, because just like a bowl of spaghetti, it’s difficult to follow each noodle because it’s a tangled mess.  I am typically the designated rule reader in my house, and so nothing turns me off faster than rules that continually references parts I haven’t read yet and force you to flip back and forth in the book.  I understand this might be necessary occasionally, but if you are doing this two to three times in each section, or even worse, each paragraph, you need to hire someone else to write your rules.  “After taking step 6 on the dungeon track (see “dungeon track” on page 15) you roll initiative (see “rolling initiative” on page 3) to determine turn order (see “determining turn order” on page 84) and then proceed to attack the creature (see “attacking” on page 27).”  AHHH!!  Isn’t that just the most annoying thing you have ever tried to decipher?  For me it absolutely is.

4.) Inaccurate play times.

I understand that play times can be a hard thing to decide.  I mean, there are always going to be that one run of the game that takes twice as long as what every other run of the game has taken.  If you remember a bit from math class, those are called “outliers”.   However, those not withstanding, the play time on your box should be relatively close to accurate.  But when I sit down to play a two hour game and it suddenly turns into a five hour game, you can bet I’m going to be a bit annoyed.  Especially when it continually turns into a five hour game.   Play times are put on the box for a reason, if yours are not accurate, don’t list them!

5.) Zero replay ability.

I play each of the games at least three times on average, some more, before I review them.  I figure that is only fair given the learning curve involved with any new game.   So I find it exceptionally irritating when the game is exactly the same from play to play.  While I might not have paid for the game, some other poor shmuck did.  Given the cost of games, if I can’t get at least three good games out of it before I’m “over it”, then I don’t feel like anyone is getting their moneys worth.  Crappy games with poor replay ability drive away new gamers.  I can’t blame them, why would they want to keep gaming if all gaming is like that.

As you can imagine, these are only a handful of my pet peeves.  After you play enough games you start seeing these kinds of things pop up everywhere.  It’s enough to drive a sane woman absolutely nuts, which may explain a few things.

Have you seen instances of these kinds of annoyances?  Please let us know!  Our handy-dandy comment box is the perfect place to join the conversation.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 7:32 am and is filed under Random Things that Fall out of my head . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. 2) Giant boxes, small product.
    There are a lot of things that can influence the size of a box. If I have a small game, but well written instructions that are larger than the game, my box will be the size of the instructions. One of my pet peeves is those tiny rule books that are the size of a playing card but they’re 20 pages long written in 8pt font.
    Similarly, if I have a game with a board that folds into a 12″x12″ square and a deck of cards that, when tied together with a rubber band, is 2″ tall, my box will likely be about 12″x12″x2.5″ to accommodate all of that even if there is a lot of empty space in the box.
    Sometimes you also have to consider what you might get shelved with. If your game is alphabetically between two games with large boxes like Risk (how Risk used to be packaged) a retailer may put you between them because that’s how they shelve their store, but if your box is significantly smaller, you may get lost between larger games and overlooked by consumers.
    Also, there used to be (thankfully we’re starting to get away from this more and more) an expectation of what size a game box should be. Clue, Monopoly, Risk, Mousetrap, Chutes & Ladders, all of them came in a box that was the same width and length though sometimes they were taller than others. Computer games were the same way, they were always about 10″x12″ even though all that was inside was a 4″x6″ manual and a stack of 5.25″ floppy disks. Sometimes companies have to conform to what consumers expect in order to be taken seriously.

  2. 4) Inaccurate Play Times
    Like you said, this one can be a difficult one to judge. Some people just take longer to play a game than others. Dominion has a printed play time of 30 minutes, and that may be accurate for some groups, but when my family plays it no game takes less than 60. Also, some games have so much interaction between players that the length of the game depends entirely on how much the players screw with each other.

    5)Zero Replay Value
    There are a few games that can be really fun, but have to have this one thrown at them. I love Apples to Apples and I recently got to try out Cards Against Humanity, which was also a lot of fun. The problem with these games is that once you’ve been through most of the cards, even with different associations, it’s just not as fun anymore. Say Anything tried to combat this with limited success, but the stuff I can come up with on the fly is usually not as funny as what developers can come up with while they’re coming up with cards.

  3. The_Null_Entry says:

    I agree that the instruction booklets that are the size of a playing card, but are twenty pages long, are kind of annoying. I would vastly prefer a regular sized sheet of rules that has been folded down to that size.

    As far as a 12X12 board and a deck of cards, yes, this has the potential to happen, but I have seen many European games that have handled this problem nicely. Some of these solutions are just a matter of splitting up that deck of cards. Others are more ingenious and require the board to be able to separate and reassemble, like a jigsaw puzzle.

    As far as alphabetical listing, I’ve never personally seen a board game store that did it that way. Instead games almost always seem to be grouped by type. All the war games together, all the euro games together, all the party games together, etc. Now whether or not your game will get lost in the flurry, well, that’s entirely possible. However, it’s in the best interests of a store owner to place your game in a position where it is going to shine. After all they *want* to sell your product.

    I have a hypothesis on why games come in similar sized boxes: because boxes are cheaper when bought in bulk. Having dealt with a little bit of that recently while packaging products, It is certainly cheaper to buy 1000 of a given size that will work for both, rather then buying 500 of one size, and 500 of another. These are known as “price breaks”.

    But allow me to give you an example of this pet peeve in action: The Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Game. This is a prime example of a game with a box that is deliberately oversized. Take a look at this image and tell me I am wrong:

    Thank you for the comments, and the other ways of looking at this issue, but this is still an issue that bugs me to no end.

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