Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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This is kinda cool: board games get a lift from crowdsourcing

So, via Black Gate, I happened across a post on the lift crowdsourcing has given board games.

Albert Mach wants to help you lead a Viking clan. He wants you to compete for honor and treasure and the control of islands. He wants you to tame the wild dragon. And he wants the masses of the Internet to bankroll all of it.

That’s because he’s a board game designer.

Now, I’m not really into games, but some of the games — board games, some of them, but some are clearly card games — that have gotten funded through Kickstarter certainly have intriguing names. Exploding Kittens? Raised almost nine million dollars via Kickstarter? The next time someone says, “What’s in a name?” or “A rose by any other name” to me, I will think of exploding kittens. Because the name must have been the initial clickbait that made people look at it.

Anyway, just thought some of you might find this post interesting.

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6 Comments This is kinda cool: board games get a lift from crowdsourcing

  1. Macsbrains

    Since our discovery of the German Spiel de Jahre board game award back in the late 90s my partner and I have spent years trying to convince people to play strange foreign board games with us, only to now have the same people come to us nowadays and say “hey, did you hear about such and such game? It looks interesting.” To which we reply, “You mean the one we tried to get you to play 15 years ago?” Like all sudden jumps in popularity, it feels like it happened overnight: blink and all of a sudden everyone’s interested in your little niche hobby which is now cool and mainstream.

    I can’t really say I understand the intricacies of the hows and whys of the board game resurgence, even as an active gamer (in fact, our most recent Kickstarted acquisition was just left at my front door 20 minutes ago), but the article rankles more than a bit because it does cost more than pennies to manufacture games and ship them and cost is a major concern of most campaigns. Many of the earlier Kickstarter campaigns have needed to follow up with another campaign to help pay for the first one. Sometimes they learn from this, sometimes not.

    The Kickstarter thing I think boils down to this: everyone thinks they can make a game, the same way every Joe on the street thinks they can write a novel. Sure, they could do so, but 90% of them would be cringe-worthy, and this is no less true for games. Because there are orders of magnitude fewer games produced than novels, gamers are more willing to brave the slush pile and the secondary market on games currently retains prices of expanding popularity, so it’s easy for a gamer to unload a game they invested in and don’t like with minimal loss of capital, or perhaps even a profit. The Kickstarter campaigns attract a LOT of speculators, which I think will eventually end up biting everyone in the rear end the same way comics speculating did in the 90s.

    These are half-formed thoughts (I hope this post is at least semi-coherent) — my skills do not lie in writing (obviously), and I’m glad that creators have a more direct line with their players/readers/listeners/whathaveyou, but things are definitely not as simple as portrayed.

  2. Rachel

    Interesting! Hopefully what will happen — sooner rather than later — is that the best game designers will quickly learn to run the best kickstarters and gamers will find themselves having an easier time picking winners to back.

  3. Macsbrains

    That’s what I hope will happen as well.

    If you’re ever offered a chance to play a modern board game, you should try some. There are many gradations between Yahtzee and Chess. I’m about to try ‘Bios: Megafauna’ on my table for the first time, which is a game which involves evolving your creatures during the mesozoic & cenozoic areas and competing for resources while the environment warms and cools. It appeals to the bio nerd in me and even if it turns out not to be great in the end, I still want to try to wrest control of an ecological niche by winning an herbivore dentition contest.

  4. Rachel

    Wait, wait, “Megafauna”? OMG I need to get that! …. Wow, I see it is $120 on Amazon. Shoot. Well, I’ll add it to my wishlist and think about it.

  5. Macsbrains

    That would be an example of the really great potential for profit on the secondary market for out-of-print board games.

    We snagged one recently for $46 at auction from someone in my city ($50-$60 being MSRP for games of this type) because we watch for deals constantly.

    I will report that after a rough start my mammals did manage to eke out a win against the reptiles largely thanks to my nocturnal amphibious mammoth, who out-toothed several competing herbivores after global warming flooded many of the habitats. (see photo)

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