The Board Game Design Course

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Game Design

Getting your game tested and certified

In our last article, we went over the steps to finalize pledges and make an order with your manufacturer. Today we’ll discuss getting your game tested and obtaining certification so that you don’t run into any problems getting this out to backers.

Some regions, Europe in particular, have some pretty strict safety regulations. This is especially true for toys. Games intended for those under 14 years of age could be considered in this grouping as well.

I want to preface that I am not an expert in certification standards. I’m just sharing what I have learned and the steps that I have taken to ensure that I am compliant.

More information about CE markings, which are necessary for many goods entering Europe, can be found here. Specifics for different product groups, including toys, can be found here.

Testing

One way that you can ensure you are in compliance is by having your game tested by an independent 3rd party testing organization. You can arrange this on your own or through your manufacturer.

Just make sure to get the details of who will be doing the testing if you do this through your manufacturer. My understanding is that a manufacturer cannot do this testing themselves, so if they offer to do so, you can politely decline and arrange this with an established testing company.

The testing company will take a copy of your game and run it through a series of tests to ensure all the materials used are safe. You will then receive the testing results, indicating whether everything is compliant or if any changes are necessary for compliance.

If you’re feeling brave and don’t want to go through the testing process, you could always fill out the forms yourself. Just make sure that everything you sign off on is true. However, I prefer to get my games tested to be 100% confident.

The cost of testing will vary based on your game and the components. You can expect this to be in the ballpark of $1,000 US, give or take.

It is a price to pay, but this will also give you a lot of peace of mind, as you won’t have to worry about having your games rejected when they enter Europe.

Documentation and markings

Some suggest that labeling your game as a product for ages 14+ is also a way to get around a lot of the compliance issues. Since toys are for those under 14 years of age, labeling your game as 14+, if appropriate, may make it a lot easier to get your games approved. However, if you made a kid’s game, this wouldn’t be an accurate depiction.

You’ll want to make sure your box indicates where your game was made, the age it is intended for, that it is not suitable for 0-3 year olds, and include the CE certification logo.

I have a whole article dedicated to box markings that will give you all the specifics.

By applying the CE logo to your game box, you are identifying that your game is compliant with all the EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements. So, make sure that you’ve completed all the steps to verify this is the case.

Wrapping it up

It’s a good idea to get your game properly tested by a 3rd party company to ensure it meets all the EU requirements. If you feel you can fill out all the paperwork and demonstrate that your game is safe, then you can handle this on your own, but sometimes it is better to leave things to the pros.

Also, make sure all your necessary labels are placed on your box.

All these steps are important to ensure your games don’t get held back from being delivered to your customers.

Next week, we’ll get into shipping and fulfilment, which require a detailed discussion.

What box markings have you always wondered about?

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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5 comments

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    Thanks for the information…not there yet, but will make note and keep this info.

    You never know when a piece of info you take in now will be helpful later on, Sharon! 🙂

    Hi, just a quick note on marking a game as 14+ in relation to CE marking. There’s a common misconception that if you mark your game as rated 14+ you can put a CE mark on the box without testing, but that’s not the case. A CE mark means that you’ve tested the game as suitable for use under EU regulations, you can either test the game and CE mark it, or not test it as not falling under CE marking regulations due to an age rating (and you’d need to show that the age rating has some sort of back up beyond just a stated number), not put a CE mark on it and release it under the General Product Safety Directive.

    Thanks for the clarification and confirmation, Glenn! Box markings and labels are tricky to get right, so you want to do your best to be compliant. I appreciate your advice.