How to Build a Game #44 Research: Getting into Games Industry

When I say “getting into” the games industry, that has a few different meanings. You could be looking to make some friends in the board game twitter-verse or on Board Game Geek. You could be looking to learn the ins and outs of how to become a board game business or it could mean you want to know how to submit your games to publishers. Whatever angle you want to take, you need to research how to be a participant rather than a satellite.

This is different to general games industry research because there is a deeper level of understanding required of all levels if you want to be part of, rather than, consumer of the board game industry. This is not to say being a consumer is not a participant, but when you want to add content (games, blogs, ideas) to the board game world, you need to engage at a different level.

If you want to make friends and be involved in the day to day conversation, you will need to be on BGG everyday and see what people are talking about. Get active on twitter and find out who the “movers and shakers” are. One of the struggles I face on a daily basis is the “language gap”. The people I follow and engage with on a regular basis are people who have been gaming longer than I have, designing longer than I have and talking about games longer than I have. While I feel like I have a lot to say about board games, I don’t have full confidence that I will understand all the references, or played the games or seen the mechanics everyone is talking about. Just being in the places where people are talking about games on a daily basis is the best form of research I can suggest if you want to be part of the daily conversation.

If you are thinking more about the business side of games. You will need to research the way games move from place to place, the way games are created, the little details that are not game related but are still a requirement for a gaming (or any) business. This is the kind of research we are working on right now and I have started with Jamie Stegmaier’s blog. I have started at the beginning and I am working my way through all of his blog posts. I read 5-8 posts per day and I take notes on everything. As I read, I write down the questions that I need to find answers to, I write down the subjects of which I need more information. Shipping, taxes, customer interaction are all parts of making games that is unglamorous but just as important as making your games streamlined and pretty. There are a lot of different places for you to find information about what to do and what not to do when it comes to building a business and more specifically, a board game business. What you need to do, if that is what you want to build, is find the resources that best fit your learning style and needs and read/watch them.

I have already written about this so I will cover it briefly. If you want to submit your game to publishers, you will need to research how the submission process works and how best to set up and reach publishers.

You can’t just show up one day with your game having done little to no research about the industry and expect people to lay out the red carpet for you. If you want to be a person or company that people know about, you need to do the legwork required to make a name for yourself and your games. The good news is that the internet makes this easier than it was 15-20 years ago. The bad news is that getting to a point where you are a known quantity and not just some person who talks about games on their twitter feed from time to time is difficult and time consuming. Do your research will make that trip easier and better prepare you for what lies ahead.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.

3 thoughts on “How to Build a Game #44 Research: Getting into Games Industry

  • Anothr gret post, and this one really struck a cord with me, as I’m in a very similar situation, doing the research and hoping against hope I get the formula right for my future projects.

    The two hardest elements for me have been time management and patience. I recently became a father and found that the little time I had has now been eaten into even more! It means longer nights, but I’m finding the drive is enough to keep me awake in the wee hours!

    Patience is a differnt animal, and works totally against the drive thing. I’m so keen to get my stuff out there, but I know that without the proper set up and research, it ain’t gonna happen.

    • Hello Bevan

      and thank you. Congrats on the recent addition to your family.The time management is certainly very tough to get a handle of, I can only image the challenge with a child added to the mix.

      I find the drive and passion to make games has turned me into the entrepreneur I always heard or read about. While I am not working late into the night on a daily basis, I am working everyday on the games and brand we are building so that we can give this thing its best shot. I used to worry about getting the formula right as well, but I kind of gave up on that for now because I don’t think i need to worry about that much fine tuning at thins point. There is so much more I could be doing that would be helpful for the TGIK cause that I need to work on those things before I worry about fine tuning the formula.

      Examples being: getting the podcast up and running, starting the youtube channel, working on games everyday, learning about the behind the scenes…etc.

      I know that all those activities will have a benefit for TGIK Games in the long run so I just do them and don’t worry too much otherwise. I guess you could argue that all of those activities are encompassed in “the formula”. but none of it feels like work to me and it all is exciting to me so maybe I am making a circular reference against myself.

      As far as patience goes, I hear you. It is a real challenge to watch all these games being released and I/we are struggling to learn how to operate BGG and struggling to get a regular play test group together. But I like to remind myself, that there are others out there struggling with the same problems and the people and companies that are producing these games are/were in the same position we are in now. I liken what we are trying to do to an engine building game where building the engine takes 4/5ths of the game and the game is hours long. The big difference is that once we have our production and project management systems in place, we get to build more games and have a functioning business for as long as we maintain our systems. It always feels like engine builders end right as we get our engine build and running.

      Another thing that really helps is the question: What happens if this all fails? We gets some fun games that we designed and we will get to play with our friends and at conventions for the rest of our lives. At the very least, we are freelance designers who will always have the ability to make and design games that could potentially be published by other companies. We also have a skill where we get to exercise our brains and make things.

      In my day job, we talk about downside protection. If the investment goes to crap, what do we have to protect us. Can we sell the assets of the company to be paid back what we invested.

      The downside protection of building a board game company/brand is really strong when you factor in the people we meet, friends we make, skills we foster and grow and the games we make. That is what makes me sleep at night knowing that the vast amount of time I/we spend doing all this is not lost, it is positive, constructive and awesome.

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