A Game of Games Dev Blog
I have recently created a social media profile for my WIP game and BGG page, so I figured it was time to start a thread in the WIP forum. You can find more information about the game on its BGG page https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/209449/game-gamesor on its facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AGameofGames, but I want to utilize this forum as my personal dev blog for myself to look back on and other game creators to interact with. I’ll try to post updates semi-regularly throughout the process.
BGG Disclaimer: I am creating a social card game. I know that this is one of the least popular game genre’s on BGG due its lack in mechanics, ingenuity, and these games seeming like they’re a dime a dozen, and I agree with all of these points, but I also wanted to highlight why I chose this game as my first design to fully pursue.
1) Ease of design. I have tried designing a few different tabletop games before, all involving more elaborate game mechanisms and more strategic decision making. These are fun! These are the games I love to play when I am with my other board game loving friends. But there is a disconnect between the initial design of those and actually seeing one of those through self-publishing. A social card game is much simpler when looking at the components required (just cards, a box, and instructions), less contractors to hire (with a more simplistic design, I’m able to outsource fewer elements), and more importantly less risky of a monetary venture (I have created rough prototypes for a few dollars, will create polished prototypes for less than $200, and actual manufacturing – if I get that far – is far cheaper than a full scale board game). I still would love to pursue bringing my more elaborate game designs to fruition, but for a first time self-publisher, I wanted to give myself a more obtainable goal.
2) Availability of target market. I have a handful of friends that I will play more strategic board games with, but I have a surplus of friends who enjoy playing light social games. I have completely bought into the lessons of experienced game designers in that a good game needs to be extensively play tested and that a self-publishing (probably Kickstarter) approach is best served as a grass roots effort where you have a large supportive audience prior to even getting to the point of manufacturing. Thus, I wanted to make a game that I could more easily address these two points. Already I have been playtesting the game with my friends and family for nearly a year, and am almost to the point of printing more polished prototypes to start “blind” playtesting of it.
With that said, my largest challenge at this point is still growing my audience. So below are my steps I’ve taken and am planning to take to gain exposure for the game.
1) Invite friends over not to specifically play the game, but just to hang out. The first few times I played the game with friends, I had to be deliberate when hanging out to ask if they would mind “trying out” my new game I created. We had a blast. So now when I invite friends over, playing the game is no longer the intention of us getting together, but will typically be brought up by someone who has played the game before, enjoyed it, and want others to try it. To be honest, this method of less aggressive testing has taken a good amount of time to pick up steam, but now that I have played the game with over 20 different people, it is gaining momentum to the point where my friends ask to borrow the game to bring to their own hangouts to try to play it. I need to make sure people actually enjoy playing the game, not that they are just playing it as a favor to me, and this method is helping assess that while growing my base.
2) To continue on the last point, I am also very deliberate in letting my friends know that a) this game is something I’m passionate about and b) something I could use their help with. The fact that my friends are buying into the game from its inception is allowing them to be ambassadors for my dream and helping me reach far more people than if I was going at this alone. I try not to be too possessive of the design process now that I have my rough prototype, and am actively trying to suit their requests as I believe this small demographic of game players will be fairly representative of the general public that I am trying to target with this game. By inviting them in to help and keeping them informed of the game’s progress, I already have received help with the graphic design of the game, social media marketing, and even offers to build a website to support the game.
3) I am now planning on specifically reaching out to more potential “game ambassadors” nationwide, who are my friends who haven’t played the game yet to try playing the game with their respective communities. I’m doing this by professionally printing around a dozen or so copies of the game, sending it to them, and encouraging them to both try it out with their friends, and then provide feedback. I have not sent copies of the game yet, but am planning to create a simple but informative survey link that anyone who has played the game can provide feedback and have the chance to be more connected to the game’s following by receiving future updates on its progress.
4) Lastly, now that I have created a social media presence, I am trying to sustain a constant (near daily) amount of updates on the game page. Whether this is new drafts of the rules, pictures of cards that I want feedback on, or simply status updates of where the game stands, I am seeing this as a productive way to keep the game’s following informed and involved.
With that said, please let me know what your thoughts on social card games are and what your experiences have been trying to grow a community for your game. Any feedback is appreciated and hopefully I can bring this game to fruition sometime next year!