Get Familiar with the Reviewer “Landscape”
If you plan to design a game to a point where you want people talking about your game, you need to get to know the world of board game reviewers. Reviewers are a valuable resource for spreading the word about your games. Get to know the people in the board game world that produce reviews in written, audio or video format. Follow them and get a feel for the different styles of all the different reviewers out there. Get a feel for how often various reviewers release their reviews. Get a feel for what games they like and dislike. Designers need to take the time and make a research topic of the reviewer world.
For example, we follow a bunch of YouTube reviewers on both twitter and their YouTube channels. As the various video are released, I take a lot of mental notes about their style and I will check out the comments section to see what their audience has to say about the games they review. I don’t really take written notes because over the course of time, I have become so familiar with the various reviewers, notes are not really required to get what I need to get from the time I spend watching reviewers videos and reading their blogs.
Know the Requirements of Making Reviews
At some point, when your game is ready, you will want to start reaching out the these reviewers asking them if they want to review your games. Designers need to be constantly aware that they are asking these reviewers to do a tremendous amount of work for the cost of sending a copy of your game. Think about all that is required for you to get a group of people together to play test on of your games. Beyond learning and playing the game on multiple occasions, they need to produce the content that is their review. Whether it be video or a blog post, these things take time. All of that wrapped into one game and multiply that by the number of people who are trying to get the attention of all the reviewers in the board game world. As a designer and publisher, we only have so many hours in the day to do what we want to do with the games we make. For a review, they have a smaller window of time to spend with our games and they have many, many more people looking to get some of that time. Did I mention that reviewers work for minimal to no fee?
Take the time to research reviewers websites. Learn what procedure (if any) they want you to follow to get them a game. Don’t just send your proto copy of a game to 20-30 reviewers and hope that a few of them will play it. Overall, be considerate of the service reviewers provide the designer/publisher community. Reviewers have the ability to add their personality and presentation skills to our games. Since designers and publishers are so busy making the games that gamers want to play, having a reviewer in your corner to add some personality and excitement to your game is worth taking to time to be considerate with their time.
Help Reviewers Out as Much as Possible
We are in this together. Designers and Reviewers should be each other’s best friends. Designers work for the joy of creation and reviewers review for the love of the games. Since reviewers take the time to spread the word about games we like, take the time to spread the word about the reviewers you like. Take the time to interact with reviewers on Twitter (if they are on there). When the time comes for your game to be given some pub, don’t put yourself in a position of getting a service from any reviewer without having taken the time to help a reviewer out in the past.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.