Several weekends ago, I had the privilege of taking our newest protoype, Four Omens of the Tu’i Tonga to the Tabletop Showcase at Boston Festival of Indie Games. This small, local festival gave us many positive experiences: it was a great showing for the game, we got to see many other great indie games, I had a blast over-doing it with my booth decor, and we got to meet some awesome people. But the thing that has stuck with me as I sit and reflect now that it’s over is
local cons are crucial to the lives of indie game makers
First, I’ll tell you what didn’t happen for us at Boston FIG. We didn’t secure a publisher for our game. We didn’t sell any product. We didn’t get great playtesting feedback on our prototype. We didn’t win any Figgies (the BFIG awards given at the end of the day.) So with all this that DIDN’T happen, why would I still walk away from it glad I went and eager to go back?
See, the real gem in going to small local cons is the community you find there. For instance, I didn’t know until BFIG that there is a play testing and development group right in the Boston area called the Game Maker’s Guild. (If you’re in the New England area, I highly recommend joining.) I found other designers right in my area of the country who were excited to share ideas (and hear about the League of Gamemakers blog). I got to sit and listen to a keynote speaker talk about the recent history and near future of game design in the Boston Metro area. And I left inspired to keep doing what we’re doing.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get stuck in feeling like what we’re doing is so far removed from the experiences of my friends and family around me. I feel like we’re designing in a vacuum. Sure, I have great friends and peers in this League, but most of them live in California. So, to find other people passionate about making games who live on the same coast as I do was awesome! It’s the same reason game makers should go to meetups and game nights regularly.
To stay connected with the people who love games as much as you do.
So, no, this isn’t a super informative post that will help you get your game made. I don’t have insights that will help you get your mechanics to work, or your theme to pop. I just want to encourage you to get out and support whatever local game making is going on around you. Get to meetups, get to local cons. Yes, Gen Con is awesome. Yes, PAX is spectacular. Yes, long distance relationships with fellow game makers across the country are good. But, I promise you’ll be encouraged and your effort will be worth it if you go find your local community.
If you’re in an area that doesn’t have festivals, cons, or meetups and it’s not in the cards for your to relocate your life to an area that does, our very own Jasmine Davis has written great material on creating one where you are.
A League of Your Own- Building a Game Design Community
So You #GenCant? Build Your Own Con
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