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Eric Rayl
United States
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Hi, I am currently searching for a compelling story to tell about tabletop gaming or board game design (for a self-produced, feature-length documentary).

I have been filming a group of board game designers for the past 16 months--following them along to conventions, watching them develop their games, and watching them overcome hurdles and find success (or failure). I have been specifically focused in on 3 individuals in this journey, but now that I am nearing the end of filming (the last guy I'm following posted his Kickstarter today, which looks like it will do well), I wonder how compelling my story is overall. I think with some clever editing, I can make a somewhat entertaining documentary, but it's not going to be *great*--not in the same way something like King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is great.

In the King of Kong documentary there is a great story unfolding before the viewer that is carried along by the incredible characters in the film and the course(s) of action that they are taking. The audience is compelled to follow along in much the same way as a narrative work would lead the audience in a carefully crafted tale.

So after re-watching King of Kong recently, it is making me really wonder if I need to get back out there and find more/better content for my documentary. I would like to stick with the world of board game design because I think that that it is a really interesting thing that the mainstream audience is not aware of and would appreciate learning about. However, I would love to find or discover a really great lead that took me on a course of action where I uncovered a really great story in real time (similar to King of Kong). I'm not looking to make a carbon copy of King of Kong--in fact, I want my documentary to stand on it's own two feet. I just think that King of Kong provides a really good template of sorts for a very entertaining way to make a documentary.

So my question for you all is this: Are any of you aware of a compelling story, or seemingly compelling story, about the world of board game design (or just tabletop gaming) that you think a mainstream audience would love to see on the big screen?
It doesn't matter how small the story may seem, so long as it's a solid lead to hopefully something bigger.

I know this is a strange request, but I'm going to be personally hunting down this story for this doc because I'm sure that one out there exists. It just needs to be discovered and told. I plan on attending Origins and Gen Con this year as well as some local conventions near me in Atlanta, GA. And my only strategy right now is just to start asking anyone and everyone I can the same question I'm posing for you all.

Thanks so much if you took the time to read this and respond back. If you think it would be better to direct message me a lead or story for confidentiality sake, that is fine.

Thanks!

Eric
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North Star Games: it all started on a sinking ship in Alaska
The Northstar is no sinking ship... (for now)
 
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Stew Woods
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I always liked the story behind Magic: The Gathering, where Richard Garfield was pitching a board game to Wizards of the Coast (RoboRally) but they didn't have the finances/capability to publish it, so they asked him for a smaller game.

The game they got was Magic: The Gathering and the rest is history.

There's the story of Sid Maier playing board games with Bruce Shelley, who previously worked at Avalon Hill, localising Francis Tresham's railroad game 1829. Of course, Tresham also designed a game called Civilization...

Coincidence?

These are off the top of my head - don't know if they are useful.

I'll think some more
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Stew Woods
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Koldfoot wrote:
Don't know what it is, but I'm sure with a little investigation the Card Chess story could be the next Big Lebowski.


Oh man, I'd forgotten all about that little soap opera! shake
 
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Connie .
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Hmm, I've never seen King of Kong and you reference it a lot without describing what you felt was compelling about it. I think what you've described about your documentary so far sounds relaxing, and maybe it is something that just gamers would be into and not a mainstream audience. It's an ambitious goal to want to appeal to non-gamers with a documentary about board game design.

I personally haven't watched a lot of documentaries, but it kind of reminds me of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which is about one guy making highly regarded sushi. Maybe that's what you need, a central character who is brimming with passion for board game design. I don't know if I would consider Jiro as appealing to a mainstream audience... maybe it did, and/or maybe it was because sushi is already a beloved mainstream thing.

So I think you choose whether you want to appeal to gamers or non-gamers.

For non-gamers, maybe something that would be compelling would be major conflict. So some things that come to mind are
-Scandals--publisher scandals like those rumors about Asmodee
-Conflict between designers - maybe working on same or similar games
-Conflict between designers/artists and publishers where the designer's vision clashes with the publisher's goals (kind of like a Steve Jobs thing?)
-Seedier aspects of board game design. I don't really know what this would be, but maybe related to plagiarism or people wrongly taking credit
 
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Rich M
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You should have included all of the mergers and acquisitions in the board gaming industry and the drama and impact behind the scenes of that.
 
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The thing that made king of kong compelling was the idea of conflict between the gamers, and how much energy they put into something that to most people would appear juvenile/passé. like, this is so important to these people. And, within this world, this is a massive massive deal.

I know you've said you don't want to ape (sorry) that documentary, but seeing as it focussed on ordinary fans of the games, who, within those circles, were big shots, maybe that's where you look - the players - the consumers, reviewers, podcast hosts etc - the mini-celebrities, but not the people selling. The lines are a bit more blurred in this hobby I suppose.

I would pay to watch a documentary about the euro v ameritrash stuff. Maybe.

 
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Rat Tooth
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First thing I thought of reading this was the guy behind minion games. don't know the story well, but from what little I heard, he sounds like he's on a one man crusade to change the industry and has pissed off a lot of people along the way
 
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