Essen Preview #28: Interview with Scott Alden (Aldie) from

One of my other jobs in the gaming industry is serving as one of the file admins for – perhaps you’ve heard of the site?  When the site started, it was merely an online repository for session reports.  Since then, it’s grown to be much much more – for many people, it is the central focus for gaming (well, of course other than the Opinionated Gamers!)

Over the past few years, BGG has also been increasing their presence at conventions – especially Essen.  They introduced a new real-time rating system called GeekBuzz which is one other way to get feedback about the new games (along with the older Fairplay poll).  Last year, BGG also started doing a series of interviews at their booth where publishers and designers could come an introduce their new games on a live stream feed.  This is perhaps the best way to experience Essen without actually being there!

Trust me, better than a photo

Anyways, Scott was nice enough to catch up with me via email to answer a few questions about BGG and their role at Essen in 2012.

Dale Yu #1: Scott, thanks for taking the time to answer these 16 questions… so will BGG be back?  Where can we find you this year?

Scott Alden: Yes BGG will be sharing a booth with Rio Grande Games in Hall 12 Booth 79.

DY #2:  Ah, so you’ve moved over into 12 near the snack bar!  I’m guessing that there will be lots of bratwurst mit brotchen in your future… :)  And, it’ll be easier to make sure that Lincoln eats this year too!  So what will we find there this year?

Aldie: Yes, I’m sure many Bratwurst will be consumed. :)  We are going to be doing ’round the clock video demos of all the new games which will be live streamed to the internet utilizing our 3 HD camera setup.  We are running GeekBuzz on 4 terminals with the results projected onto a screen for all to see.  On the Rio Grande Games side – we’ll be running game demos and selling the latest releases.  I don’t have the full list yet, but I imagine we’ll know shortly what Jay has to offer.

DY #3: Awesome, I see that you have posted an initial schedule for the Interviews.  It’s definitely an awesome list!   So, with all those interview planned, how many people will you have a the booth?  Do you have your staff set up already or do need any volunteer help?

Aldie: We currently have 10 volunteers on staff… plus a couple of the Beatnik Turtles ( are coming over to lend a hand.

DY #4: Are the Beatnik Turtles coming to perform their music?  Or are they game explainers? Interviewers?  Rio Grande game sellers?

Aldie: No they are coming as attendees for the first time and are going to help out in the booth when they are tired of buying games :)

DY #5: So they have no idea what the fair is like? I’m guessing you get about an hour of work a day out of them!  While you’re waiting for them to arrive, I expect that your booth will still be packed as usual.  Will it be setup so people can watch the interviews in progress?

Aldie: We don’t have a way to watch the interviews in progress.  That would require a bit more space and setup than we can currently handle (2 projectors, etc…)

DY #6: What about Geekbuzz?  Will it be back this year?

Aldie: Yes, geekbuzz will be there, although it may be in a different form.  I haven’t decided yet :)

DY #7: You have been selling all sorts of great expansions on your website in the past few years.  Will you be selling any of these items at Essen?

Aldie: We will only be selling the new releases from Rio Grande this year. Our promos are stocked down in a Texas airplane hangar and are simply too costly to bring with us.

DY #8: Do you know yet which, if any, new promos you’ll be getting from games at SPIEL 2012?

Aldie: I do… but my lips are sealed :)

DY #9: I know that you use your booth as a way to get ready for BGG.con.  Have you planned out your list yet?  Do you know how many games you’re planning to bring back?

Aldie: Doug Garrett ( has been overseeing our acquisition list the past few years – he doesn’t let anything slip by.  Each company that demos their games on camera gives us 2 copies to take back to BGG.CON, plus we round up what was missed on camera. This year it’s looking like 450-500 games being brought back.

DY #10:  How do all those games make it back anyways?  As I know, you can only fit so many games into a suitcase these days!
Aldie: A very fast airplane. We air ship them home after the event – no need to cut boxes anymore to make everything fit into our luggage.

DY #11: Do you get any games for yourself?  Or is everything for BGG.con?  Do you even have your own game collection anymore?
Aldie: I am personally looking for a copy of Ghost Stories: White Moon and the new Hanabi, and Escape!.  After putting my collection into the BGG.CON library – I had no games in the house, so I have been re-building again and it’s getting far too large already!  There’s so many games that I want to play these days…

One of the games on Aldie’s want list…

DY #12: What is your favorite game or genre?  i.e. if you were king, what games or sorts of games would you play with your group?

Aldie: I have been loving to play cooperative games these days… and I really enjoy experience games.  I still play a lot of other things, but I prefer the non-confrontational nature of co-ops.

DY #13: Many people have said that once they make their hobby their job, it becomes less fun – have you felt that way about boardgaming?  Has anything changed since you started to run BGG?
Aldie: It’s still a dream job – I can’t even think what else I would like to do. Sure, there are days when it’s tough (re: hackers, spammers,  hardware failures) – but when I work through it and realize how nice it is to work for myself, and I’m working in a hobby I dearly love, that makes all the bad thoughts disappear. I’ve always been a self motivated person when it comes to work, and now that we’ve grown up (so to speak) I’ve found it difficult to make the transition to managing and directing people – that is definitely the biggest change and my biggest weakness.

DY #14:   Administering the site must be a huge time-suck.  How much time per day do you actually get to spend reading/browsing the stuff on BGG? How many hours a day do you spend working on the site?

Aldie: Most of my days are spent working with various members of the team via Skype and screensharing – I do get some coding time in, but most of the time is spent solving bigger architectural problems and helping out where it’s most needed.  I would like to get back to more coding, but that likely won’t happen till the end of the year – and possibly even next year.  It’s hard for me to separate work from regular life since I work at home – there’s always one more problem to solve and the computer is always on. On a normal day I spend about 8-10 hours working, but sometimes that escalates into 12 hours or more.

DY #15:  Will you get any time for your own browsing at Essen? Or are you stuck at the booth?  Should we set up some sort of schedule to have people bring you (and Linc, etc) food and/or drink to make sure you survive the four days?

Aldie: Yep – I get time to walk around and look at stuff – I usually end up buying a few extra copies of the stuff I *really* want, and I try to get some weird stuff too. BTW – We start working on Tuesday so it’s 6 days for us :)  If you want to bring us curry-wurst or brats we’ll gladly take them!

I believe a challenge has been made. Who will deliver the currywurst to the BGG booth? ;)

DY #16: Boxers or Briefs?

Aldie: Boxers

DY #17: Who is your favorite admin

Aldie: You’re out of questions – try again next year



About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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