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Subject: Any Tips on Becoming a Rules Designer? rss

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River Tam
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My dream job is to design and write rules for board games. I have experience writing policies and procedures, have a degree in English, and love teaching games, so this makes a ton of sense to me.

Does anyone have any tips on how I can break in? I want to reach out to some publishers, but would like to provide a sample of what I can do. Since I obviously can't send them rules for existing games, I'm not sure what would work best.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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Matt D
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RiverTamSong wrote:
My dream job is to design and write rules for board games. I have experience writing policies and procedures, have a degree in English, and love teaching games, so this makes a ton of sense to me.

Does anyone have any tips on how I can break in? I want to reach out to some publishers, but would like to provide a sample of what I can do. Since I obviously can't send them rules for existing games, I'm not sure what would work best.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks!


Your best bet I think is going to be to design games or talk to designers on here. From what I have seen when discussed on here, publishers generally don't spend much to pay someone to specifically re-write/edit rules designed by someone else. They expect a game designer to be able to intelligently express their rules.

you could probably find some designers that want help to polish things up, but once they get to the publisher they're not going to seek out a free lance "rules writer" without game design experience.

 
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Ryan Keane
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Perhaps gaining experience as an editor, and then applying to a job opening at a big game publisher. Or look for writing positions at video game companies - I'm sure there are lots more openings there. My mother-in-law is a writer and editor, and back in the day when computer games didn't really have graphics, she wrote and edited the narratives, rulebooks, and designed components for video games.
 
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David Gregg
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Hang out in the Works in Progress section and practice with the threads there thumbsup
 
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Feras H
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If you want to "show them something"
Re-write rules to an existing game that has horrible rules.

IMO i belive Power Grid can be written so much better.
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Michael R

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feraswheel wrote:
If you want to "show them something"
Re-write rules to an existing game that has horrible rules.

IMO i belive Power Grid can be written so much better.


I thought about that but I don't think anyone would look at rules for an existing game. Especially if it's not one of theirs.
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Chris Morrow
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McBamf wrote:


I thought about that but I don't think anyone would look at rules for an existing game. Especially if it's not one of theirs.


At least in terms of editing work, folks will want to see a portfolio of your work. When one doesn't have that, they often use "spec" work which is along the lines of what Feras suggested. They won't be looking at the rules so much as your alterations, writing ability, document design, etc.

 
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Oliver Kiley
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I think most publishers, contrary to some points above, actually do have technical writers that they pay to at least edit rules. At least that's been my experience.

In some cases, I can imagine, that the they way a designer has organized and sequences the rules might not be the best way to do it, and someone with a technical writing background might be able to do it better.

As others have said, the best thing would be to work for free (yes free) helping aspiring designers to write better rules. Find works in progress you are interested in and ask the designer if you could take a stab at formalizing their rules. Might be worth a shot.
 
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Asher Kennedy
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RiverTamSong wrote:
My dream job is to design and write rules for board games. I have experience writing policies and procedures, have a degree in English, and love teaching games, so this makes a ton of sense to me.

Does anyone have any tips on how I can break in? I want to reach out to some publishers, but would like to provide a sample of what I can do. Since I obviously can't send them rules for existing games, I'm not sure what would work best.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks!


This could backfire, but if you think you can improve on their rules, you could send rules for existing games.

Find examples of the best rules and see what they do in particular
Study video tutorials. What is it that makes the tutorial beneficial? How can the rules be adapted accordingly? Should publishers be producing video tutorials??

Index. Don't forget to index.
 
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Ken Lewis
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The best way to break into the industry is to design a game that a publisher wants to publish. Once you do that you will find you have more and more opportunities the more games you get published.

But, that is a huge hurdle as I am sure many of the designers on here will tell you. There really isn't much of a job market for people who just write rules. I think most publishers would rather have an in house editor work with the designer on the rules.

Instead of contacting publishers, maybe you should offer your services to designers who may be looking to "sharpen" their rules.




 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I am still unsure whether the OP's desire to "design and write rules" means she wants to be a game designer, a rulebook editor, or something else.
 
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Michael R

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Antistone wrote:
I am still unsure whether the OP's desire to "design and write rules" means she wants to be a game designer, a rulebook editor, or something else.


I would primarily like to write rules. By "design", I was referring to the layout and format of the rules, not so much the game itself, though I imagine I could provide input on that as well if I'm working closely with the design team.
 
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Filip W.
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feraswheel wrote:
If you want to "show them something"
Re-write rules to an existing game that has horrible rules.

IMO i belive Power Grid can be written so much better.


I'll echo this. Showing a portfolio of what you can do is the way to gain trust. However, having tried to go down this route, I've noticed that there's a definite deficit of will/ability to pay for these kinds of services. Unless you hit the big publishers, like FFG, but then they have their own, in-house, resources.
 
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Leonardo Martino
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McBamf wrote:
feraswheel wrote:
If you want to "show them something"
Re-write rules to an existing game that has horrible rules.

IMO i belive Power Grid can be written so much better.


I thought about that but I don't think anyone would look at rules for an existing game. Especially if it's not one of theirs.


Depends... Heroes of Normandie had a very very lacking rulebook. Publisher improved it a little but not much. A user rewrote it and it is so much better and addressed so much corner cases that original rulebook simple skipped.

Now if you ask me if there's a market for that I cant really give an answer... blush
 
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DJ Wilde
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First of all, are you both "RiverTam" and "McBamf" or are we talking to two interested OPs here?

Second. On top of all this, I advise getting some "other" writing jobs under your belt to pad your resumé. A way to do this might be catching small jobs on Fiverr or equal scale job site.
 
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Jay Sears
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Some suggestions:

1. Make sure you know how to write a really good rule book. Not saying you don't.

1. Offer some voluntary service and get testimonials for the work you do. After a few books on reviewing you have done for others go to 2.

2. Design your own game and create a really good rule book to show case. Get it released.

3. Create a website to promote your services and with your testimonials and evidence showing you can create a book rule book this will add weight to your services.
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