BGG Guide to Game Submissions
The purpose of this guide is to give users insight into what is necessary and sufficient for a game entry to be approved in the BGG database. For the purposes of this guide, "game" refers to games and expansions, except where noted.
What is a Game?
In the abstract, a game is something where a single person or a group competes or cooperates toward a goal whereby one or more players win or one or more players lose. This also includes solo games where a player must make choices based on hidden information (not mere puzzles) and solo dexterity games with a failure and/or score and/or timed-play component. A small treatment on the topic is at Game Criteria.
What is not a Game?
- Activities -- Activities are events that have structured actions that participants take within the scope of the activity, but have no competition or cooperation toward a particular goal of win/loss. Activities are mere stylized play for participants, sometimes with a defined end-point as in some therapeutic "games" where players express their feelings as dictated by play-rules, and some where the end point is the willingness of participants to continue as in many drinking and sexually-oriented "games".
- Oracles -- Ouiji boards, divination Tarot, and the like. If something says it will tell the future, it's pretty much out. Also, divination products don't have rules about competition or cooperation toward a goal.
- Conversation games -- A general class of turn-of-the-century items that featured cards with questions and answers. The function was to ask a question from one card and respond with the answer from a different card, with Mad Libs-style hilarity as a result. No game-play, no goal, not a game, but an activity.
- Drinking and sex games -- Items in this category will be looked at with heightened scrutiny, as the goal of many of these games is to get drunk or to have sex, and they don't really have a goal where one or more players are winners or one or more players are losers. As such, these are mere organized activities.
- Gift exchange games -- These games are out, unless there is a clear winner and loser in the game, disregarding the (perceived) value of the gifts that are exchanged.
- Storytelling -- Collections of components that are used to merely create a story are included in the database, even when they do not lead to a winner. However, if the game is not about creating stories, but about telling stories about oneself (with the goal of getting to know each other), the game is out of scope unless it does include rules for winning the game.
- Sports simulations -- Games that simulate a sports event (a match or several matches) are included in the database, even if the player(s) don't have a team of their own, and thus cannot win the game.
- Puzzles -- BGG has a prohibition against solo solvable puzzles, such as Rush Hour or Rubik's Cube. A puzzle is an item such that a problem is presented for which a programmed solution is available. In Rush Hour, each of the puzzles has a solution. For a Rubik's Cube, there is a series of programmed moves for any configuration that brings about the end solution. Puzzles are Outside the Scope of BGG.
- Books -- BGG has had a fluctuating policy on books over time. The current policy is that books of rules for games should not be listed, but the individual games should be listed. For example, Scarne's Encyclopedia of Card games should not be listed, but the individual games whose rules are contained therein should be (and most or all are). Books about game strategy, or catalogs and pictorial collections of historic games are not content for the database. Book items currently in the database will remain until the development of bookgeek, when they will be transferred over to their proper domain.
- Periodicals -- Periodicals should not be entered as a game entry, but the individual games should be listed.
- Electronic items -- Items that are purely electronic (e.g. DVD games, video games, handheld electronic games, apps) are not within the scope of BGG. These items can be submitted to Video Game Geek.
- Outdoor Games -- The BGG database is about board and indoor games. Any games that necessitate going outside to play or are generally played outside are Outside the Scope of BGG.
What is an Expansion?
An expansion adds components to a game that change game play. It is more than a scenario or variant, which are ways to use existing components differently, including using more or fewer of the game's components or other common components.
Miniatures games that are rule sets and do not come with other components such as miniatures and dice may have expansions that are additional rule sets from the publisher. These expansions do not need to contain additional components. Miniature products that do not contain new rules (e.g. additional miniatures or books with background material) are not considered an expansion. These items do not get an accessory entry either.
Individual scenarios, variants, and re-themes should be shared on the game's page, and will not receive a separate entry. Official scenario bundles that are not periodical issues may receive an expansion entry. Fan expansions that add components to a game that change game play must follow the Fan Expansion Guidelines.
Individual cards for CCGs: The current policy is that individual cards for CCGs will not receive entries.
Blind boosters: If an item (card, miniature, etc.) comes in a blind booster pack, so that the contents of any particular pack are unknown, the smallest "known" set will receive an entry. That is, the wave, brick, season, or other term for the group of items from which players receive a random item. Individual items from the wave/brick/season will not receive a version entry. Non-random products that are composed from items from the blind boosters do not get a separate entry, either. (But non-random products that contain items from multiple waves, or that contain items that are not part of any wave, do get a separate entry.)
If an item is used in a game but does not add rules or change game play, it is an accessory. See below for more information about accessories.
Stand-alone games that may also be used as an expansion should not be linked as an expansion. Instead, they should be linked as "integrates with". Example: Dominion: Intrigue
(note that Dominion: Intrigue (Second Edition)
is an expansion because the base cards are removed)
What is a Compilation?
A compilation is an item with two or more games and/or expansions in one box. The existing entries for the games and expansions can be linked using Contains/Contained In. If a new release for a game combines the base game and one or more expansions, it should receive a new entry, and link to the existing entries for the base game and expansion(s). (If a game contains a new expansion not previously released separately, it reimplements the base game.)
Compilations of classic/public domain games, such as a game set containing Chess, Checkers, Backgammon and Pachisi, are out of scope for BoardGameGeek, and do not get a game entry. See Miscellaneous Game Compilation.
What is an Accessory?
Accessories are items that are used in games, but do not add rules or change game play. For example, a collection of upgraded components is an accessory. An accessory must be specific to a game to receive an entry. Accessories not specific to a game can be found in Miscellaneous Game Accessory, Miscellaneous Card Game Accessory, and Miscellaneous Miniatures Game Accessory.
Conversion kits, that convert one edition of a game to another (probably newer) edition of the game, are considered accessories, even if they add new rules or change game play. This is also true for items that convert a game to a different game (if that game is also available separately).
What is a Game System?
Some games lack a proper "core" item. This may be because you need several different items (e.g. two different starter decks) to play the game, or because there are different core sets available for the game. For such games, a "game system" entry may be made, to serve as a central place for discussions for the game. See Star Wars: Destiny for an example.
Any entry for a product that is part of the "game system" is linked to the game system entry as an expansion - even if it is actually a core product, not an expansion.
When is a game ready for entry in the database?
A game is ready for entry when there is sufficient information available about it to describe the game's theme, game-play, and goal. For games produced by major publishers, this usually comes after a press release with information about these elements, or after the game is shown to reviewers who can write about these elements. But, when a publisher merely announces a game with scant information about these elements, the time is not yet ripe for game entry, as a "stub" entry is not sufficient.
For self-published games and user-designer efforts, a game is ready to be added to the BGG database after the game has undergone play-testing and is available in its final form. If details about the game are still being resolved and the rules are still being changed over the course of the play-testing, the game is not sufficiently finalized for a BGG entry.
The header information for a game is all of the collected material outside of the description. It includes designer, publisher, year of release, minimum number of players, maximum number of players, manufacturer's suggested ages, categories, and mechanics. When a game is submitted, this information should be as complete as possible, especially if the item is a new release coming from a prominent publisher. For submissions of older games, it is understandable that it may be harder to find this information; the request is that the submitter make a best-efforts search to include information about an older game. Submissions of new releases that are lacking header information may be passed over for more-complete entries.
The first separator in a title should be a colon. If a title needs a second separator, use an en dash. On a Mac, use option-(hyphen), on a PC, use ALT+0150. (We use this system for consistency and readability, but can make exceptions based on publisher requests.)
See also: Naming Conventions.
- The primary category of concern in a game submission is the description. A good description for a newly-released game will consist of at least a paragraph and will cover what the game is about theme-wise, how the game plays, what mechanisms are used, and what the victory conditions are. This is summed up as theme, game-play, and goal. Additionally, the description may discuss the contents of the game box, but that is extra, and a components list alone does not a game description make.
- Voids in other categories like mechanisms, designer, publisher, year, players, and game time are taken into consideration as a whole, but usually will not cause the denial of a game with a sufficient description.
- Older games (e.g. more than 5-10 years old) can slide with lesser information, just so they are included in the database; as with new game entries, the more information included, the better. An unacceptable description for an older game might be "The box has a picture of a cowboy on it" where an acceptable description might be "An old roll-and-move game about cattle rustling" The former description says nothing about the game itself and is just a reference to the visual aspect of the packaging, whereas the latter includes information about mechanisms and theme.
- Close scrutiny will be given to "Site-scrapes", i.e., instances in which data about a new game is lifted directly from a publisher's webpage and submitted as a game entry.
- Further information on this topic is encapsulated at Game Description Guidelines
The description for a game is the core of the entry -- it is the foundation upon which the game is based. The description is the primary piece of information that is used for comparing game entries and making a determination if one game is the same as another game.
Examples that will be rejected:
- Stub Submissions. A stub is a very short description that is submitted with the hope that someone will expand it in the future.
- A copy-and-paste of a press release that speaks only to theme, with no information about what players do when playing the game.
- A description that is just a link to an external site with game information -- a game must be described in its BGG entry, not linked to an off-site description.
- A non-English description; BGG entries must at least contain an English description, though the description may also contain a complete description in another language.
A game description should be written as a neutral statement about the game. Editorial comments about the quality of the game components or opinions about the game-play should not be present in the game description and should be reserved for reviews or a user's personal commentary about the game. Additionally, any specific language about a particular copy of a game (e.g., "My copy came with a catalog") should be avoided as it does not describe the game generally.
As given on the box or packaging. Official variants may be taken into account to extend the range.
As given on the box or packaging. Note:
If a single value is given, please enter that value as both the minimum and maximum playing time.
Designer, Artist, Publisher
When entering a new game (or version), submit any needed people and companies first, and then wait a few minutes for the system to catch up. Then when you create the game (or version), you can link any pending people or company submissions. After the game is approved, different admins approve the people and company submissions. People or company submissions are not approved until they have a linked and approved database entry. The pending people/publishers won't be visible until they are approved, but they are there. You will get a geekmail as each part is approved.
- If a designer or artist is Uncredited, please enter it as such. It will show up as (Uncredited).
- If a game is available as downloadable content (such as for a Print & Play), choose Web published. Enter Self-published for tangible output produced by the designer, either directly or on their behalf.
If the game that you are submitting is a new version of a previously released game — say, the central mechanism(s) of one game have been reworked into a new design — then that new game is said to "reimplement" the earlier game. You should list a reimplemented game only:
- If the designer or publisher has stated directly that the new game is a reimplementation or new version of their earlier game.
- If the new game is by the same designer or publisher as the earlier game. The 2014 release Rattlebones plays very much like a Dominion with dice, and Rattlebones designer Stephen Glenn has stated that he was inspired by Dominion for this design, but we would not list Rattlebones as a reimplementation of Dominion.
- If an older, uncredited game is licensed by a new publisher for a new edition, we might elect to tag the newer game as a reimplementation of the older one even though they don't share a designer or publisher, e.g., Whosit? has been reimplemented by Dinosaur Tea Party in this manner.
- A game in the public domain, e.g. chess or dominoes, will not receive a reimplementation link connecting it to a newer design.
A version is a publicly available release of the final game. Print & play files on a website are a web-published version. Something available from a print-on-demand service is a version. Something available for purchase is a version. Something given away at a con or as a backer bonus is a version.
Prototypes and playtest copies do not get a version entry on BoardGameGeek. When you are submitting an entry for a new game, do not include a prototype or playtest version. Instead, make a version for the (upcoming) first edition.
If a game has the same rules as an existing entry but differences in things such as artwork, publishers, publication dates, or components, it should be entered as a version rather than a separate game entry.
Version entries should be as complete as they can be based on the submitter's available information. For further information on versions, please consult the Version Guidelines.
Note to Admin
This field is for things that can be useful for the admin reviewing the submission:
- Notes about how an entry is different from an existing entry. Submissions are checked against existing database entries. If an entry seems to be the same as an existing entry, it may be returned with a question or a revision request.
- A link to a webpage or images of the game for reference.
- - When including a link to an image, thread, game entry, etc., it is helpful to include the entire link so that it is clickable, rather than the ID number of the item. For example, https://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/265476/monopoly rather than "Image 265476".
- Each submission, and each of its subsequent revisions, gets its own "Note to Admin" text entry field. The submitter can only see the current note, but when the admin sees all the notes at once when reviewing the submission.
Images, Links, Files, etc.
At present, images, links, and file cannot be submitted to the database at the same time as game submission. The existence of these external items really does not have an impact on the game's approval.
For more information on uploading images, files, and links, please see their wiki pages: