The Alphabet Project

G is for [board] Games


Last week, it was Adam’s choice of topic and he went with G is for Games. We decided that we would leave the definition of “Games” quite broad as we both had different ideas of what to do for it. Adam produced a great viz and blog on the medal hauls of Athletics teams at The Summer Olympic Games. If you haven’t seen it yet, go and check it out! And then come back here and finish reading for my take on the topic.

With the UK on lockdown right now due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, we’re all just trying to stay sane and find news ways to entertain the family. So it was no surprise to me that

Sales of Games & Puzzles were up 240% in week ending 21st March 2020 compared to 2019

Statistics reported by The NPD Group on 1st April 2020.

I will admit, I’d been trawling through Amazon to find a new game but had no idea what I was looking for. That’s when I stumbled upon and had my eyes opened to the world of rating games. You can search for a specific game on this site or browse through different categories and I started to think how useful it would be to be able to create a set of categories that someone could select from and generate some suggestions for games that they should try!

If only there was some kind of functionality in Tableau that could be used to build such a tool…oh wait…


I know I’m very late to the party, but I just want to say how brilliant set actions are!! A huge thank you to all of the devs that made these possible!

Once I’d collected all of my data from Board Game Geek and Wikipedia (I can hear all of my past teachers shouting “Wikipedia is not a reliable source!!!”) , I created sets for each category and spent a while designing small icons for each one. I’ve mentioned before that I use powerpoint for this, and I love it. I know there are much more sophisticated tools out there, but it suits my needs.

Once I’d created the sites, I added set actions to the dashboard so that my list of 366 games could be narrowed down.

Set values can be updated using the new(ish) dashboard action type “Change Set Values”

I wanted to change a simple list of games into tiles on the right hand side of the dashboard, but I’d only ever created small multiples by creating fixed x and y axes points and using them on columns and rows. After a bit of digging, I came across Chris Love’s post from 2014 that explained how to create a dynamic trellis chart.

I set about creating the x and y axis calculations and sure enough, it did dynamically change depending on the number of items in the trellis. Unfortunately, with 366 items, the trellis was 18 x 21 and totally illegible! Instead, I created two Case statements in excel (it’s SO MUCH QUICKER than having to write it all out by hand) using the INDEX() function (computed along Game) and used these to determine the placement of tiles across 5 columns.

Use excel to autofill long CASE or IF statements to prevent insanity!

I was quite pleased with the resulting dashboard, so I hope you like it too. And if you find a new game as a result of trying it out, let me know!

What’s next?

It’s my choice of topic again for next week… For anyone that knows me, you will know that I LOVE animals and I know Adam does too. In particular, there is a species that is very close to the Green family’s heart and I for one want to find out some more about the beautiful creatures (the animals, not the Greens!) so…

H is for Horses

Over to you Adam!

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