A One Year Progress Report, One Month Early

I suppose December 12th will be the first anniversary of Painted Wooden Cubes. I registered the site in November of 2011, but the first post went up on the 12th of December. Since then I’ve added a short novel’s worth of words to the site, split across 28 articles, and eighteen reviews.

More than anything, the site was probably born of the snaky thought that playing games, while valuable, wasn’t directly productive. I tend not to be satisfied with myself at the end of a day unless I’ve created something, however inconsiderable it may be. The site lets my previously aimless rumination on games have some kind of product. It’s better to be exploring the games I have than reading endless reviews of games I do not own.

It can be said I’ve let Painted Wooden Cubes run its first year without a strong guiding concern through which it might build an identity. By turns I’ve given attention to understanding what capabilities board games possess, and what capabilities they lack; the place of board games in wider culture; and to the year’s most ubiquitous of topics – the nature of board game criticism. Nevertheless, there has been a healthy growth in the number of people reading the site, particularly in the past couple of months. I am delighted, of course. Thank you for giving the site your time and attention.

What I’ve come to understand is that it is better to let the site bounce between different ideas, as it does. Any blog must, to some extent, be a reflection of its author: any author writing in a stacatto format demonstrates hodge-podge concerns. I worry about the blog sounding self-important, but showing something of myself is that way to pull these strands together.

Life beyond games seeps in too. Why review the first year of the site a month early? Because Painted Wooden Cubes has to fit around my normal life. My occupation is in academic research. At present I’m looking at evolutionism in the novels of D.H. Lawrence. Right now writing is the largest part of that process, which takes away some of the mental reserves I can draw upon in writing material for this site. These idle thoughts about the blog itself are easier to channel than any of the myriad ideas about games I still hope to pin down as the blog continues.

For me, one of the most valuable aspects of this blog is that it has, directly or indirectly, brought to my attention a lot of insightful commentary about games of which I had previously been unaware. Links to some favourites are here. I’m heartened by how many other people view games in a similar way to me: reading some of the great articles written in the past year has been something that has kept the wider hobby, beyond the playing of games in itself, fulfilling to engage in for me.

Drawing on outside inspiration, from Martin Griffiths’ New to You A Year Ago geeklists on Board Game Geek, one plan I have to enrich the site is a monthly look back at reviews written a year ago. I want to explore how and why my perspective on the games in question might have changed, if it has. Where my past opinion has changed, I want to delve into that, rather than hide from it. The first article will thus look back at Tobago, Jaipur and Onirim.

Thanks again for making this a rewarding eleven months. May the next eleven be even better.

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