Community: The importance of having fun with friends
Sorry about the late post, folks. We have been hard at work continuing to develop Mort-A-Mania, but we will continue to post every other Tuesday in the future. Thanks for reading!
Creating a game to sell and selling that game are two very different activities. Since game development is the first step, people who get into game publishing are often developers first, publishers second. As a result, it is easy to be too focused on the game itself, and not enough on marketing, outreach, and logistics.
To honor this more murky side of the self-publishing journey, I want to discuss a deceptively obvious part of a successful career: community involvement.
To many, community involvement is a weird marketing sneak attack: earn the trust of the people by hanging out and attending events, and they will be more receptive to you when you finally give them the inevitable product pitch. They believe that customers are out there, and that pitching your game game to every person you meet is the only way to find them. They treat communities of players like schools of fish to be chased down with the goal of catching as many as possible.
This is not community involvement.
Community involvement is going to (or organizing) small, local events as a normal person. Not as a developer, not as a marketer, not as a mover or shaker or anyone important. It means getting involved as a community member for the sole purpose of improving that community in the simplest way possible -- adding one more participant.
The reason we should do this is twofold: one, it's fun; and two, it is good for the local gaming scene. When we join groups just to be in them and support local gaming, we make them better for everyone. Don't focus on networking, or making good impressions on buyers, or on selling yourself. Those behaviors are for sales events like cons and trade shows, not small time board game nights or DnD meetups. Instead, just kick back and remind yourself to be a regular gamer again.
If you do make business connections, great! These are still valuable contacts, and will be useful in the future. But much more important than this is growing the local community. Focus on enjoying the events, and doing your part to add value to them. Even if the players you meet never see your games, you can rest well knowing that your actions contributed to the fostering of new players, and improved the entire gaming industry by that much.
So while you are out there doing everything you can to make your game successful, don't forget to take a night off every now and then, step away from the role of promoter, and return to your roots as a gamer. Find a local game night or role playing group. Make some friends and add to a community. It will probably make you a better game designer, but even if it doesn't, it will definitely make a better game experience for everyone else.
-- Dakota W Winslow