When I began reading books and blog posts about how to become a successful (and unsuccessful) board game publisher, I kept running into the same topic: becoming a part of the community. Here is what I have tried and what has worked and not worked thus far in my quest to become Transcendent.
Things I have done so far include:
joining and participating in more board game Facebook groups than I can count or keep up with
accidentally became the leader of a rulebook exchange through one of these groups
subscribed to as many board game reviewers as I can think of on Instagram
go to local gaming stores and conventions
playtest other people's creations through conventions or virtually through TTS and other simulators
Let's dive deeper into each of these to see how it is going.
As of this writing, I am a member of 40 different board game groups through Facebook. So now you know what my feed looks like when I sign in.
While the groups are different, many of them have the same goals of providing feedback and networking opportunities. I also want to mention that there are a lot of posts about a person is excited to join the group after not being able to have their opinion heard or being mistreated in another group. Upon further inspection, it is clear to me that this genre of nerd is full of gatekeeping, just like I see in video games, Magic, and chess. Good to know.
Some of the groups have competitions where the people that like and post the most get games or other things sent to them. For one of these groups, I actually put in the effort to win the prize for the month by liking and commenting on every post I saw. The winner tripled my like and doubled my posts. What a nerd.
How's it going? Glad you asked, but not well. It's really hard for me to commit to posting to each group at least once a day and honestly they are all the same group with a different permutation of the same boring topics. With that said, there are a couple of literally invaluable groups centered around international shipping costs and running lists of game reviewers. Everything else is brown and grey.
Accidentally lead the rulebook exchange
I joined the rulebook exchange group to get help when it came to fine-tuning the ruleset for Transcendent. In the group, you post your rules and the admin swaps your rulebook with someone else's which has a similar word count. After I was in the group for the first month, the person leading the group had to step down because of a big move. I commented on the post that I was sorry to see them go and got asked to lead the exchange.
It was sold to me as copy/paste of the previous events, and it was, but I was able to create a beautiful google sheet to do all the dirty work for me. I used to do a ton of spreadsheet stuff in my previous life, and this group has helped reinvigorate my passion for formulas. Anyways, this group has been a giant value add to Transcendent. The rulebook critiques have been spot on and I have learned how to make it a better game by reading some other excellent rulebooks from other designers. 10/10 if you want to create your own game, then join a group like this.
Subscribe to board game reviewers on Instagram
This was a great idea to set the foundation for when we want to reach out to get a review for Transcendent, but yet again the content is so similar, it has been hard to enjoy it. It just feels like there is no creativity on this platform and in turn nothing that I have been able to add to our own dismal social media presence.
I would say that my own social media presence heavily leans towards watching over creating. Even then, I spend 30 minutes a day on average on my socials. I just like to do other things with my time. I have to get better at this as it is the easiest and cheapest way to market Transcendent.
Go to local game stores and conventions
Check and check. I have been to as many in the STL area as I possibly can. Each one has produced the same results for me. Lots of mingling with the community (yay!) and followers from those events, but not an exponential increase in these things. Either way, I love doing these and will continue to do so.
Playtest other people's games
This is the post that someone needs to see. Playtesting other people's games is great for all involved. You can learn new mechanics and ways to make your game that much better. However, this is NOT the way to get devoted followers as everyone is trying to do the exact same thing that you are trying to do. So, keep doing this for ideas, but do something else for followers.
Anyways, thanks for reading and for letting me get this out there.
-- Ethan, that guy that pestered you at the last Con you were at.