The Best Advice That I Ever Got About Building My Tabletop Brand: Don’t

Someone who launched a successful kickstarter for their tabletop recently was hosting an impromptu AMA in r/tabletopgamedesign subreddit. I asked them a question about how to get the word out there about my game and myself as a designer.

How did you gain a following before launching your kickstarter?

I’m having problems getting anyone to notice me on my WordPress blog, Twitter, or Facebook.

I’m considering running ads on Twitter, google AdSense, and Facebook to get people interested in my weekly blog. Are ads the way to go?

I got the exact response that I needed to hear, but have been hesitant to actually take action on for quite some time.

My main method was playtests. Get someone to play your game, they’ll usually gladly give you their email address IF you have a pad out to gather it and your game was any good. Ads are risky if the main thing you’re trying to do is get them to know your project exists (and may some day be for sale).

Something to realize early is until you’re a celebrity … you’re not a celebrity. The average person doesn’t read blogs or wordpress or interact on facebook and an ad that gets a click won’t change that. Don’t worry too much about being a brand. Be the guy or girl who made the game. If people are having a good time playing your game, take a picture of them playing it and ask if you can post it on facebook / twitter. If they say yes and you get a good picture, they’ll tag themselves and tell their friends about the game.

Imagine that there’s some game developer out there trying to get YOUR attention and ask yourself what they could do to make you a fan. Usually the answer is “get me to play the game. Get me to like the game. And then give me small updates every month or two that make me like it even more and get me excited about the eventual release.” Fans are people!

Of course, I’ve always had excuses for not taking this advice. “Oh, I need to get the artwork in better shape.” “Maybe just a few more private playtests to work out any balance issues.” And on and on.

The moral of the story here is that if I want to get involved in the community, I need to get involved in the community. I’m not shopping for publishers, so I don’t need my game to be mechanically perfect, here. I need people’s general reaction to the game. I need validation. The answer to the one question I’ve been ignoring: is my game any good?

Soon, I’ll have that answer. After a few more balance and artwork tweaks. (Just kidding.)

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