The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

Lessons learned from Origins part 2

Last week I wrote about my experience and success at Origins.

But I realized that I had a lot more to add to this, hence part two this week.

You see, when I went to Origins Game Fair last year for the first time, I didn’t know as many people in the boardgame design community as I do now. It was still a great event, but I did spend a lot more time on my own and playing games in the Board Room and other elsewhere with new people that I just met.

This year, I wanted to do things differently.

Not only did I have many more polished games of my own than I did last year, but I also had more games I wanted to playtest, and I wanted to get more involved in helping other game designers as well.

So, I reached out to a game design group in Facebook that I’m a part of, and asked others who would be at Origins if they were interested in getting together to playtest each other’s games. One of the members, who I had met previously, mentioned how he always gets a group of designers together every year, and he decided to set up a Facebook group so that we could all find each other more easily.

This turned out to be a great solution and it allowed a lot more game designers to get together and meet many of those who we had only interacted with online.

Just having a home base where I knew other people was a great benefit.

Also, if I needed to step away to grab a bite to eat, meet with a publisher, or just wander the exhibit hall, I didn’t have to lug my carry-on full of prototypes with me wherever I went. This was another definite bonus.

There were always others around so that I could playtest their games and get feedback on mine.

It was also great to just shoot the breeze and talk games and game design with other like-minded individuals.

Even just hearing others say they were going to try to make cold pitches at a publisher’s booth encourage me to do the same as well. This actually led to a prototype being taken home with a publisher, along with the start of a new working relationship.

I chatted with some new designers and answered lots of questions they had about the process. I also put them in touch with other experienced designers and publishers as well. It’s always nice to share your experiences with others who are in the same spot that you once were.

I met lots of great people, who I know I will keep in contact with for years to come.

So, getting out of my comfort zone to meet with many people I didn’t already know made Origins that much better of an experience.

I also participated in my first ever math trade. Now, while I wasn’t selling or trading any games myself, I did get a great deal on a game I recently played and enjoyed. It ended up costing me only half the price it would have back home.

However, I also realized how crazy and busy these trades can be. I wandered around in circles looking for the individual who was selling my game that I had contacted earlier. I eventually found him, but it took quite a while.

Being at Origins also allowed me to pick up my copy of Unbroken, a solo game that I had backed on Kickstarter the previous year. I was excited to get this, as I knew the designer personally and had played one of the very early prototypes.

So, I packed a lot into Origins this year and it was definitely worth the trip.

I had four scheduled meetings with publishers, a few impromptu pitches at publisher booths, attended and had a successful publisher speed dating event, received great feedback on lots of my prototypes, picked up a few games, and met lots of wonderful people.

It was great to have a lot of things planned in advance, but also plenty of flexible time to do anything else that I wanted. It certainly didn’t hurt having both a lot of prototypes ready to pitch and plenty of others to playtest as well.

I’d definitely recommend having a plan, but also not booking your days too full. This allows you to always have some options and be able to join in on anything you find that is interesting, along with spending more time meeting others, scoping out the vendor hall, and demoing some new games.

If you went to Origins this year, what was your favorite part? What would you do differently next time?

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