The Unbearable Multifariousness of Being a Self-Published Game Designer

The more I find out about trying to fund a game on Kickstarter the more I know that it is not for me. Getting funded on KS is essentially an exercise in marketing. The process of self-publishing as a whole does appeal to me, but it is clearly something that requires many different skills and types of experience – there are very few people who have them all, and so a team is required to successfully get a game published. If you’re lucky enough to have a team ready-made then this can clearly work out well. I had the opposite experience several years back when a game designer put together a team to publish his game – I was involved on the marketing side (I was the only one who spoke English) as well as helping with the design. We were all very enthusiastic at first, but after a few months the team fell apart. It turned out that one of the members – the most important one, the designer, who was driving the whole project – was incapable of working successfully with other people. Needless-to-say, his game never was published.

No doubt it is gratifying as a designer to publish your own game. However, if you look at the time you spend on various aspects of the process, I’m sure you’ll see that most of it is dedicated to things other than game designing. Perhaps this relates to my age and experience in life, but I’m more interested in pursuing the creative aspects of getting a board game published rather than the business and administrative ones. I spent a decade and a half involved in the business world, interacting with marketing people, leading international projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros (in consulting time – no products were involved). My experience would probably set me in reasonable stead in setting up and operating a board game publisher, but I also know that much of the work involved would be very mundane, time-consuming and frustrating. I have some of that – enough of it for my taste – in my day job, and so when it comes to board games I’d rather take the plum job – that of pure creation and design. Having said that, I’m excited enough about the forthcoming publication of my first game not to mind being involved in some of the nitty gritty of interacting with the artists and thinking about the marketing. Unfortunately, this is partly at the expense of working on my second and third games…if only I were a full-time game designer!

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