Ok, so maybe nobody really had the courage to come right out and ask us this question, but I know many were thinking, “Why are you at Legends of Ravenhall so ignorant about this game industry stuff?” and from our family and friends, “Why are you doing this anyway?”
Perhaps it is obvious to many that we are novices to the game industry, at least to those on the “inside”. To those on the “outside”, you may not know what we have been up to, or may be wondering what all of this is about. In general, most people probably don’t think too much about the difficulties and challenges of the board game industry. Even “gamers” probably don’t know much about the actual industry itself. They just want to play games! And, family or party or casual gamers probably don’t care much more than the occasional half hour of game-play that they do once in awhile. But actually, there is a whole world out there when it comes to games! Even more so, when you create your own, that is, with the goal of publishing them!
Personally for our family, this game-thing has been a long journey. There seemed to be a gradual progression from playing the basic family games from our youth such as CandyLand, Twister, Uno, and Life, to playing more complicated, strategic games into our teens, such as Risk, Stratego, and Axis and Allies. Then we advanced to such games as Cosmic Encounter, Settlers of Catan, Heroscape, Caracassone, and Star Wars Miniatures. Now we’re cutting edge, trying out new games almost weekly, scoping out games wherever we go, test playing, visiting game escape rooms and game cafes, and having discussions regularly about some aspect of gaming.
There are actually hundreds and thousands of games available, not just the few at the local merchandise, book, or hobby store. This can be quite overwhelming for the novice. To many, having more than a few games in your household may seem extreme or too intense. Considering we have LOTS of games in our closets… upstairs, downstairs, in the garage…obviously we were pulling away from the pack.
Then we hit a new level– making our own games. We enjoyed adding new rules to games, making custom cards and boards from scraps of paper, and even designing our own custom card games for road trips, which was really entertaining when you are traveling for hours and hours. So, technically we were already “gamers.” I
In 2016, we began serious talks about sharing our games with others and making them official, which led us to forming our own company/group called Legends of Ravenhall. From there we began production of our products. And this is where we are today.
There has been much to learn along the way. And the more we learned, the more we realized that we had much more to learn. Simply making a game and publishing it takes a lot more than one may expect. There are designers, developers, retailers, publishers, play-testers, fulfillment companies, distributors, and more. Also, there is manufacturing, shipping, selling, funding, and other business information that we had to figure out. On top of this, there is marketing, social media, and the like. We had to put together a website, tweet on Facebook, post on twitter, snap pictures for Instagram, produce a newsletter, and surf the internet, so much, that we thought we were drowning! Drowning in our own ignorance, that is!
All this was done on a shoestring budget from a small group of people who still hold full-time jobs, are active in our church and community, and value our family time. Needless to say, this has been a busy and overwhelming experience these last few years, yet exciting and rewarding as well!
Here were our three biggest learning experiences: 1) creation of our formal company, 2) our dice project, and 3) our first official game Headhunter.
From this, we gained experience and wisdom that we want to now share with you. Yes, to answer your questions, but more so to help others who may be traveling down this same gaming path or venturing into a business of their own. The following is from our personal experience:
You are more Ignorant than you Think!
- Starting or joining something new means that you don’t know everything about that particular industry or culture. Be prepared to know this going in so that you will be open and ready for new challenges. Remember, ignorance simply means the lack of knowledge about a subject, and that can easily be fixed with an open mind.
Do some Research!
- When you’re new to something, learn about it! The best way to learn about something is to experience it, but “book knowledge” or other means of research before hand, and during your experience, will only enhance your knowledge and awareness of a subject.
- Some great places to find out about the tabletop community, specifically, are:
Try, Try, and Try Again!
- Though you may not have instant success, in fact that seems highly unlikely, and perhaps you will never have major success according to some people’s views, set your own goals. Then, plan accordingly. Have realistic expectations and measurable steps on the path to your goal. Remember to not give up! Failure is overrated. There is only really one way you can fail, and that is if you give up and choose to fail. Otherwise, failed attempts are really components of success. You have simply learned ways to do something differently. Plus, don’t worry! Keep aiming for your goal and learn from your mistakes. Adapt, know your limits, and carry on.
- New situations can be unnerving! However, we have found that most people are actually helpful and friendly in the game community. Simply reach out to people and ask questions! Overall, we want games and people to succeed, so help others and ask other people for help too!
It Takes Time!
- Be prepared for longevity. We all have full time regular jobs, so this means that our board game company is basically a legally registered hobby. So, since we aren’t working this business full time, we shouldn’t expect full-time results. However, on the other hand, don’t work your venture like a second-class job, or you will never receive the results that you are looking for. Work hard and be patient.
Be Prepared to Lose Money, But Work to Gain Money!
- Statistics and conversations and observations from others show us that the gaming industry is a tough row to hoe, so to speak. Most games will only have small print runs or be lucky to break even. Remember that you must set your own bar of success, but a financial reward is always welcomed. So, you should plan for, work as if, and operate as if you expect to make a profit. In other words, if you aim high and fall short, but are prepared for that possibility, then you won’t be as disappointed and may just be blessed with more than you thought. But if you aim low and are operating your business as though you are going to lose money, then you probably will.
Enjoy the Journey!
- Whatever your goals, whatever your motives, whatever your results, enjoy the travel along the way! For us at Legends of Ravenhall, gaming began as simple learning and fun growing up, yet grew to be competitive, strategic, game play as we aged. Now, it’s a budding business. Ignorance is bliss!
-Legends of Ravenhall