The sphere of tabletop gaming is still a relatively small one, at least when compared to the huge worldwide market that is toys in general. However, if you look at the amount of media being produced on a daily basis by writers, YouTubers and podcasters you could be forgiven for thinking that wooden cubes are Very Important Indeed. There are a huge amount of people out there who are pouring their thoughts on games (and the wider industry in general), and we thought that it would be good to celebrate some of our favourites once in a while here on the Hub Games blog. Part of our mission as a games company is to do things unlike anyone else, and as such we wanted to point you in the direction of folks who are trying to carve out their niche in a different way.
First up, the good folks behind Meeple Like Us. Run by Dr Michael Heron, Pauline Bedford and Hayley Reid, MLU is a truly unique site with a major focus on the accessibility of games. Rather than scrabble to be the first to review the latest, hottest titles, they instead prefer to take a more considered look at the games we play. By looking at games as subjects for analysis rather than ‘just’ something to play, the site breaks every game they choose to review into tiny chunks, running them through a wide selection of criteria that covers everything from Colour Blindness and Visual Accessibility checks to the Socioeconomic breakdown of card illustrations. Every game teardown produced by the site is also accompanied by a separate opinion-led piece, meaning that readers can choose to either just check out what MLU thought of the game in general or go much more in depth. While every review is written with humour, there’s also a lot of useful information included, even without clicking the extra link and going to visit the more in-depth accessibility breakdown, and I always find myself taking each pair of articles as a whole. Interestingly, they also offer publishers the right of reply to the articles they post, which is something of a rarity in the industry. Meeple Like Us provides a different, refreshing take on reviews, and deserves a bigger audience.
Next, a name that many people may already know; Brittanie Boe, aka Bebo, who is currently one of tabletop gaming’s best and brightest. Her channel, BeBold Games, is still relatively new truly but pushes the idea that our hobby is for everyone - inclusivity is the keyword here, and if you’re lucky enough to spend time with her, you’ll know Bebo is very good indeed at coming up with the right game for any given situation. While some content creators will look down at those who enjoy titles like Munchkin and Monopoly, she sees those at jumping off points for gamers who are growing in confidence and looking for what their next possible step could be. Bebo’s videos are always quick and easy to watch, with high quality production and thoughtful opinions that capture the essence of each game she’s covering. Whether it’s something speedy and compelling for kids (sometimes with daughter Hailey helping out with hosting duties) or a game on the chunkier end of the spectrum, you can be sure that you’ll know everything you need about it in a matter of minutes. Bebo’s industry experience has given her an encyclopaedic knowledge, and she’s a vociferous force for good in the tabletop world; her passion for gaming and her desire to open the hobby to more and more people is evident. She’s also an excellent photographer, making games shine on camera, and is carving out her own much-deserved space in our gaming world every day. You can also find her on Twitter right here.
Last for today, No Pun Included, the splendid YouTube channel run by Elaine and Efka (just first names, because they’re basically the Madonna and Cher of tabletop). Combining detailed game analysis with a light dusting of their... “unique" brand of humour, NPI has been running for around four years. With new videos each week, you’re always guaranteed a beautifully put-together long-form review, as well as board game news, the occasional live stream and the excellent Last Place Podcast (presented by Efka along with Jon from Jon Gets Games). Basically, Elaine and Efka are machines, presenting intelligent games coverage that proves you can be detailed without veering into dry. Of the three channels mentioned here, they’re certainly the largest with over 20,000 subscribers, but we still find there’s a lot of folks who haven’t heard the word of NPI. I’m particularly impressed by their convention coverage which somehow manages to catch both the hyped up stuff alongside plenty of hidden gems, as well as spending time with the people behind the games that we love to play. Their recent successfully funded Kickstarter for the next year of videos shows that they already have a lot of fans, but there’s always room for more! Their love for games of all kinds sparkles in each video they create, so why not spend some time checking out a few?
Who do you love? Which writers, podcasters, reviewers and YouTubers do you feel deserve the attention of the spotlight? We’re always on the lookout for people covering our favourite games, no matter what format - let us know your favourites, and we’ll see you again next week!