One of the greatest things about the board games community is, well, the community. And I’m not talking just about the players – I’m talking about the designers, the publishers and the developers in particular.
When I first decided to start dabbling in game design I immediately found myself taken under the wing of first the Playtest UK Meetup group and, shortly afterwards, the fledgling Cambridge division of the same group. Despite my early attempts being rubbish at best, I was positively encouraged via great constructive feedback that only served to inspire me to keep at it (something a few of them probably regret now…).
Once I had a game I thought might be publishable, I started to talking to (you guessed it) publishers and developers. While not every meeting is a positive experience (everyone has shitty days), the vast majority of them have been really supportive and open.
The designers and publishers I’ve met since have been a mixed bunch of characters, but I’ve never met one who thought they were too good for me, or who wouldn’t happily answer some questions or have a quick chat. Sure, there are a few I wouldn’t approach now – but that’s the same personalities issue you get in every walk of life.
In fact, I’ve been amazed at how far many publishers and designers will go to help, even when meeting for the first time or just for a few minutes. Rather than being a secretive, cutthroat closed shop the industry is quite the opposite: if someone doesn’t like an aspect of your game, they’ll suggest a way to improve it – or if it’s not the game for a particular publisher (or they have no room in their schedule), they’ll be happy to suggest alternatives you may not have considered. Clichéd I know, but it feels like a family.
But what has all this got to do with Steal This Game?
At Essen Spiel last week – the most influential event in the board gaming calendar – indie board game publisher LudiCreations had its Saturday takings for the fair stolen by a gang of professional thieves.
Luckily no one was injured, but the gang got away with thousands of euros: an event that has hit the LudiCreations team hard, both financially and emotionally.
But rather than sit around and mope, the Ludi team, along with a gang of designers and reviewers, set about making it right. They spent Saturday night designing, testing, reviewing and filming (a review by Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham) a nanogame – it fits on a postcard – in an attempt to recoup some of the takings. Kickstarter had a stand at the show, so within 24 hours they’d turned tragedy into a live Kickstarter campaign.
Designed by David Turczi, this two-player game pits a game publisher against a thief trying to rob them. But of course the point here isn’t the game – it’s the fact something positive came out of a desperate situation almost immediately as everyone rallied around to chip in however they could.
At the time of writing Steal This Game had almost 2,000 backers who’d pledged almost $25,000. Pledge levels include simply getting the postcard ($5 or more), or getting one of Ludi’s other games (Kune vs Lakia, Microfilms or They Who Were 8) into the bargain for just $14. It’s very small numbers, but together we can help make this right and show once again what a great community board gamers have created. I’m in – now it’s your turn.