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.
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 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.