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Subject: How to Sell your game. rss

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Sam Mercer
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Boardgames are cool. Mr Ostrich over here on the left thinks so. But your players (especially if they are not gamers) may not think so.
I often give this advice out to those who need it, so I wrote it into a blog post on our new Game Design Blog: ExampleOfPlay.com entitled, “Why the hell should I play your boring, paper game?”.

-----

Drinking for the Olympics

A friend of mine brought in Loopin’ louie for “games day” at work. In honour of the London Olympics they asked all the employees to bring in a game. The games would be played by everyone throughout the day as a team building exercise.

A few notes:

1. My friend is an avid hobby gamer. But he is a very capable teacher and understands barriers to entry well.
2. No body in the Office played boardgames except him

So my friend being understanding brought this game in for all the non-gamers to have a go at;

Ages 4 and up: In Loopin’ Louie, a battery-powered motor placed in the center of the table rotates a boom with a little plastic plane. Four radial arms lead out to the players’ barns and the chickens they’re trying to protect. Each player’s barn has a little lever, which is used to knock the rotating plane away from your chickens and hopefully into someone else’s. When only one player has chickens remaining, he or she wins the game.

That sounds fair right? Listed as one of the best received children’s boardgames ever, it seems like it was a great choice for the Office Olympics, not complicated at all, fun, and might even lead the way to starting the office interest in boardgames once the players have had their first taste.

Unfortunately the hopes of introducing some cardboard the wish of new office gamer friends was hammer-fist beaten and left twitching on the floor…

“Loopin Louie – Category: Boardgame – Rating: Very Hard“

No one played it. It didn’t do very well. What game did the best and had the award for “Best game”? It was this gem:

“Drink a pint of Water very fast – Category: Activity- Rating: Easy“

I can’t quite sigh enough. This paltry piece of text will have to do I suppose … *sigh*

How to stop this madness

Sell your game.

I don’t mean that in the “print it and charge money for it”. Please make your game sound exciting. Sell the fun and idea of your game to others. Sell the idea of GAMES to others. Make the most of it. Talk it up. Be cool. Boardgames are fun, some people just don’t know. Be Exciting! Take time, be genuine, be heartfelt, understand that boardgames can be very scary if you have not experienced them before. I’m sure all of you have opened up a boardgame at one point in your lives and said “Wo …” with all the chits and bits and rules and what not.

“It looks scary but its actually not complicated at all!” – how many times have you heard this? And remember, that is between gamers. Imagine how non-gamers see it? This whole exciting, new world of boardgames has opened up to them, “wait, there is MORE than monopoly and poker?” – Yes, it’s wonderful in here! It’s analogue, it’s social, it won’t fry your brain and your entire family can get involved! Just you? No problem – we have solo games for you! Love horror stuff? No problem – we have loads of scary games! Like shooting eachother? We have entire forums and societies dedicated to war games. Come in, sit down, and ooh-check out this dice: it’s got 12 sides! Help yourself to chips and dips and I’ll grab you a drink, I’m glad you’re here, we’re going to have a good time today
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Eric Etkin
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Good stuff!

This actually makes me wonder - Is there an obvious (and attractive) webportal out there that serves as a gaming gateway? Something that specifically caters to newbs and/or non-gamers with the intent of exposing them to the basics (and beyond) of the hobby?

BGG is great and all, but it's clearly structured for dedicated hobby gamers, IMO. I'm thinking of a site that's less database/reviews/meeting place and more of a "Hey how you doin'? Want to learn more than Monopoly, huh? Here's how!"

I could almost see this thing as a sister site to BGG, something like a gaming preschool which blatantly dovetails to this site.
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B C Z
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Cogentesque wrote:
The games would be played by everyone throughout the day as a team building exercise.

...

Unfortunately the hopes of introducing some cardboard the wish of new office gamer friends was hammer-fist beaten and left twitching on the floor…

“Loopin Louie – Category: Boardgame – Rating: Very Hard“

No one played it. It didn’t do very well. What game did the best and had the award for “Best game”? It was this gem:


Who rated the game?

What management official allowed one person to be 'beaten up' over their choice of game?

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Sam Mercer
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BT: No idea, this is second hand knowledge mind, so I would hasten a guess at "Maggy in HR" or the nearest equivalent! I don't think he was beaten up over it though, just dismissed as a geek, people at the office just chose lift little sweets into cups with drinking straws instead. Yet, upsettingly, the game that got the prize for best game was of course: "Drink a Pint of Water Very quickly"

Eric:
Thanks man! Glad you enjoyed the read, it's always really wonderful to here people reading stuff that you wrote. ALso thanks very much for the tip! .
You bring up a very valid point - there is no "entry level" games place to find out about new games. BUT the problem is that even if there was, it would be hard to get people to go into it as - they need to be looking at expanding their horizons about "boardgames" anyway. And if they have decided to undertake such a task, they would probably find there way here! The hard part is getting through to those people that don't even know about boardgames in the first place. The best way I have found to get the knowledge to these guys and gals is to just tell them in a way that makes our hobby sound Fun and Interesting. We have to fight for the right to game!
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B C Z
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This sounds like an office event where 'games of physical dexterity' were the fare.

Drink a pint of water as fast as you can.
Lift cellophane wrapped candy with a straw and place it in a cup.

In short, things I'd expect to see on the show 'Minute to Win it'



Maybe it wasn't the time or place for a fun, kids, plastic dexterity game.
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Eric Etkin
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Cogentesque wrote:

You bring up a very valid point - there is no "entry level" games place to find out about new games. BUT the problem is that even if there was, it would be hard to get people to go into it as - they need to be looking at expanding their horizons about "boardgames" anyway. And if they have decided to undertake such a task, they would probably find there way here!


Hmm... This might be an interesting undertaking, especially considering I may have quite a bit of free time on my hands starting next year...

I think the key would be:

- Partnering (or advertising) with similar demographic sites or programs. Much in the same way Target is hooking into Will Wheaton, you'd want to leverage off broader "geek cred" programs and sites.

Possibly also look into cross-over from video game sites or "men's mags" like Maxim, events like ComicCon and Pax, and possibly more family-oriented fair or teaching-centric publications. The goal would be (as always) reducing the "geek stigma" associated with hobby gaming (which is less and less these days anyway!) and creating an environment that's educational about the hobby itself more than for each specific game.

- Soliciting video reviews (maybe written with copious amounts of pics) that are geared towards age and skill levels, possibly the same gentlemen and ladies contributing here. Reviews would need to have a bit more standards and guidelines for a uniform look, language and feel, so they'd need to pass through editorial review.

- Focusing on hooking gamers into the greater gaming community... ultimately driving traffic here as they "graduate."
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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... Drink a pint of water really fast.

That's about par for the course for humanity.
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Herc du Preez
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I am constantly surprised when someone mentions they played this really interesting board game called "Settlers" or "Catan" or something. And they seem to discover there is an interesting world of boardgames beyond Monopoly and 30 Seconds.

Some good "gateway" games imo (in no particular order):
Catan
Citadels
Carcassonne

Can anyone else think of good gateway games? (I somehow doubt Loopin Louie actually falls into this category.)

While I always consider marketing lying to people, I second what Sam says: Sell your game. Make it sound utterly awesome. (Sam has been giving me lessons, but I have yet to rival the master.)
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No amount of being told how cool watching sports is will ever make me want to watch sports.

No amount of being told how cool car racing is will ever make me want to watch car racing.

Not everyone needs to be sold. The example given especially seemed to be individual events and not head-to-head competition.

It was the wrong venue.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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Settlers is great because you roll dice each turn, just like Monopoly... it's a lot harder to get used to doing something else to start your turn, like making a decision.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
badge
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
Avatar
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byronczimmer wrote:
No amount of being told how cool watching sports is will ever make me want to watch sports.

No amount of being told how cool car racing is will ever make me want to watch car racing.

Not everyone needs to be sold. The example given especially seemed to be individual events and not head-to-head competition.

It was the wrong venue.


Sports are just a team board game with a much larger dexterity element.
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Tom Scutt
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Howabout "Drinking a pint of water very fast while playing Loopin' Louie" - now there's a game!
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Sam Mercer
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byronczimmer wrote:
No amount of being told how cool watching sports is will ever make me want to watch sports.

No amount of being told how cool car racing is will ever make me want to watch car racing.

Not everyone needs to be sold. The example given especially seemed to be individual events and not head-to-head competition.

It was the wrong venue.


It may well have been the wrong venue BT, but I believe that the point stands. Remember "sell" doesn't mean "Shove down your throat" - all it means is to make your hobby and your designs sound exciting to others who don't know about it. The way I see it:
On one hand:
People realize that yeah, these boardgame things sound quite fun, if no one told me that they were, "how would I have known?"
On the other hand:
We do not make our hobby sound fun, let people remain in the old idea that boardgames are boring, or meant for children, or nerdy balding men, and we do not increase the amount of people that are boardgame fans, meaning that no new people join up and we are stuck with the same old people in the same old cliques.

I don't want to force anyone to do anything, but I think we should put a good show on for those who could be interested.
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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I'm not a huge fan of exciting games. I don't feel the need to sell my games - the kind of people I want to play with just need to know it exists. If I have to sell them on it, they're likely to not like it - even though they could love other board games.
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Sam Mercer
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I agree with you Jay, and as I said, you shouldn't have to "force" a game onto someone. I agree. But unless you tell them that the games exist in the first place, how will they know?
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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Cogentesque wrote:
I agree with you Jay, and as I said, you shouldn't have to "force" a game onto someone. I agree. But unless you tell them that the games exist in the first place, how will they know?


I tell them! "Great games exist, guys, if you like emergent partnerships and stock holding, partial ownership, investment decisions, hey where are you going?"
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Brian P Lewis
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Nice Blog Sam
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I'm all for getting more people in the hobby and personally do a lot towards that goal.

My office group does periodic 'celebrations' after major deliveries. Without my prompting, they came up with 'board game night'.

I offered to bring some of my collection, and chose games I knew had a shot of being received. I arrived with my suitcases, put them out on the 'please take and play' table and let folks know I could teach anything on the table in 10 minutes or less.

Some of the titles got looked at, many of them got flat out passed over.

I considered it a success that people even asked.

But I did not take any board games to the Christmas Party, Lazer Tag event, Frisbee Golf event, etc, etc, etc.

There is a time and a place for everything.
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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Drink a Pint of Water Really Fast Designer Diaries 1:

So I was thinking, a fun thing to do is race to see who can drink a pint of beer faster.

But, there are many problems. You can't drink a pint of beer at work. And, if you have too many pints of beer in training, you pass out.

Thus, "Drink a Pint of Water Really Fast" was born.
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Sam Mercer
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tqboz wrote:
Nice Blog Sam

Thanks Brian, very kind of you man

Jay - I love your designer diary! Will you intend submitting the idea to publishers
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Avianfoo wrote:
I am constantly surprised when someone mentions they played this really interesting board game called "Settlers" or "Catan" or something. And they seem to discover there is an interesting world of boardgames beyond Monopoly and 30 Seconds.

Some good "gateway" games imo (in no particular order):
Catan
Citadels
Carcassonne

Can anyone else think of good gateway games?


Ticket to Ride
The Resistance
Possibly Dominion, but just the base set
Munchkin (The rules are simple! And the cards tell you exactly what to do!)
Carnival
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Byron Campbell
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There need to be more "learn to play" or L2P-type services for non-gamers who are intimidated by long rulebooks and the complexities of non-party games. I know there are a few out there--love the Watch It Played series, and Drakkenstrike does a great rules breakdown--but it would be great if there were something that wasn't in video form, sort of an eHow type of layout. Make it happen.
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kurthl33t wrote:

Munchkin (The rules are simple! And the cards tell you exactly what to do!)

Don't know about that. I think it might have the opposite effect
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kittenhoarder wrote:
There need to be more "learn to play" or L2P-type services for non-gamers who are intimidated by long rulebooks and the complexities of non-party games. I know there are a few out there--love the Watch It Played series, and Drakkenstrike does a great rules breakdown--but it would be great if there were something that wasn't in video form, sort of an eHow type of layout. Make it happen.


*EVERY* game event I go to, if the rules to a game are not known, they are taught by a knowledgeable, interested person whose primary goal is to get all participants to understand. Every game group has at least one rules reader/explainer.

Ordering people to capture that knowledge in 'eHow' (eWhat the eHeck is eHow?) isn't valuable. The rules are in the rulebook. Everyone needs to understand the rules of play in order to do so.

Perhaps better, clearer rulebooks are necessary.
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M J
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werewolf! ofcourse and more party styled games, such as wits and wagers
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