I spent this past Labour Day weekend at Fan Expo in which I got to meet some of the major designers in the tabletop industry. I got a chance to speak to Robin Laws, Eric Lang and Johnathan Lavallee among others over my two days at the convention. During this time a was able to attend numerous panels on a variety of topics regarding the tabletop industry. It is my hope to share some of what I learn with you today in this post.
The first piece of information I am pleased to share with you all is that tabletop games are hitting their renaissance. Board games and RPGs have exploded in popularity over the past few years and it has never been a better time to design or enjoy playing tabletop games. Games of all types and genres are becoming increasingly available to players through the internet as well as the invention of the board game café – which has become an enormous community in Toronto, where I live. This increase in availability has lead to much greater attention put on the tabletop industry. As an example of this the attendance of Gen Con – the tabletop gaming convention – has been increasing steadily over the past 5 years. With the increasing community along with the invention of crowd funding sites like Kickstarter, the barrier of entry has been dramatically reduced allow for more games to be released
Crowd funding was actually the focus of one of the panels I attended. The panel speakers consisted of tabletop Designers, Comic Writers and a representative from Kickstarter. Most of the panel focused on topics involved with running a successful Kickstarter. With the main point being that the best way for a project to gain attention is to have the creator be excited and passionate about their project. The panelists went on to talk about projects in which the creators were not excited about their project, which ultimately led to the project not building the momentum needed to get funded. They continued by stating that people who were passionate about their projects and that treated backers as partners, each with their hand in the project, were much more successful. The more that you can make your Kickstarter interesting and fun, the more people are going to notice it and want to get involved.
Robin Laws, Author and RPG designer stated “…It is as though Kickstarter was made for the tabletop industry. Kickstarter’s size and scope resonate perfectly with that of tabletop games”
I was also able attended a panel about board game design. A large portion of this panel talked about areas of design I have talked about on this blog, namely Know Your Audience, Fail Faster, and Play Testing. The discussions in the panel followed pretty closely to what I have written in those articles, and rather than repeating myself you can follow the hyperlinks to those articles. One thing that was repeated numerous times throughout the panel was the simple lesson that in order to design better games. Play more games. Play games you like, play games you think you won’t like and most importantly play games you know you don’t like. Only through playing a large variety of games can you develop a better understanding of good game design. This is an interdisciplinary skill to, if you are looking to make an RPG, play some board games. They are bound to have some form of design information that will help with your own design.
Overall Fan-Expo was quite the learning experience and it was great to meet some professionals in the field. I am sure I will release future articles which contain the information I've learn over this weekend, so be on the lookout for those.
In the meantime thought I have finally created a twitter account in which Intend to post game design musings as well as updates regarding the blog and my games production. If you are enjoying the blog and/or are interested in my upcoming game please follow me @MTTJ_Patrick. Next frontier, a Facebook page!
Thank you so much for reading,
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