Behind the viz: Game of the Year
It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted anything on here. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve published a viz. I had to take a little break from vizzing. I just couldn’t find the energy to sit down and create anything. I’ve started several different projects but quickly gave up on them. But I tried to tell myself that it’s okay, that one of these days I’ll be blessed by the muse and get my creative juices flowing again.
Thankfully, I did come up with an idea for March’s #IronQuest challenge. So here it is – my contribution to the theme ‚Games‘. I finally created a viz inspired by one of my all time data viz heroes – Giorgia Lupi. And I finally got to use the new map layers in Tableau. I’ll tell you all about it in this blog.
Topic & Data Collection
The theme for this month’s #IronQuest was ‚Games‘. For some reason, my immediate thought was Mario Kart – don’t ask me why. I actually started to look for data but nothing specific came to mind. But then I remembered the board games we used to play at home when I was younger. I remembered checking out the newest games in the toy catalog to see whether there were any cool new games I wanted to put on my Christmas wish list. And one major factor I remember was always which games won the most recent ‚Spiel des Jahres‘ (‚Game of the Year‘) award. This German board game award is super famous here and a pretty big deal. I found a list of all past winners on Wikipedia as a starting point and added some additional information about the games (game type, number of players,…) by browsing their wiki pages. Here’s the dataset I ended up with.
Design & Preparation
Next, I had to come up with a design for my viz. I wanted my design to reflect the overall topic of games. Basically, you should be able to get what the topic was simply by looking at the design. One thing I’d like to do to get some inspiration is a simple google image search – just type in ‚Board Game‘ and see what will come up! I quickly realized I needed my viz to resemble the game board itself! So each game would be represented by one field along the path on the game board. The rest of the data would be implemented using other shapes – Giorgia Lupi style.
I started by creating a quick game board mock-up in Powerpoint, consisting of 42 circles (one for each game I wanted to depict) which form a bendy path. I loaded that into Tableau as a background image and used annotations to figure out the x and y coordinates of each individual circle.
With the coordinates out of the way, I went back to Powerpoint and began creating the shapes I wanted to use to encode the information in my viz. I first created the bubbles that I used for each game and that ultimately formed the path on the game board. I chose 6 different colors – one for each of the different board game types I had in my dataset. I added a radial gradient and some shadows for some texture and depth.
Next, I included the other items and shapes I wanted to use to encode the other information: 1 to 3 triangles for the recommended minimum age, 1 to 3 bars for the game length and a circle for each possible player. And finally, a little heart for each game I personally have played before. I saved each set of objects separately as an image and moved it to the custom shapes folder in the Tableau repository.
Creating the viz
All that was left was bringing it all together in Tableau. The new map layers in Tableau make this actually pretty easy.
- Normalize the x and y coordinates by dividing them through the total length or width, respectively.
- Convert the coordinates into a geometric object with the MAKEPOINT() function.
- Bring in the geometric object as a map layer with the game ID on ‚Detail‘.
- Use mark type ‚Shape‘ and put one of the other dimensions on shape (Number of Players, e.g.). Select the corresponding custom shapes.
- Repeat steps 1-4 until all elements are in the viz.