Most of you are like us: burgeoning hobbyists that dream of a time when the rest of life’s obligations integrate gaming beyond the sessional fixes. And some of us even have this obsessive desire for contributing something that the global gaming community will accept, providing yet another layer of participation in this pastime we’ve come to love. While we’re not all designers, artists, or publishers, those aspects of the gaming industry are less accessible to many of us anyway. Where most of us find an accessible outlet to the larger community is our voice, whether in forum participation, ratings and reviews, or even in the creation of media content. Which brings me to this post. The further we dabble in various kinds of content, the more we desire to provide not just more content but meaningful content. But what does it take to make a significant splash like the seasoned personalities we follow online?
Covering this year’s West Texas Table Top Con put Pub Meeple in the unique position to interact with many of our hobby’s experienced elites in a small enough venue that gave us more of the one-on-one interactions than a larger event might limit. So here’s a little list of take-a-ways I picked up while talking with our gaming gurus.
Providing consistent meaningful content takes loads of time
(aka something we all probably already know) This is something that has always been a challenge for us and the #1 issue with just about everyone. And there are two ways to look at the time equation.
There is a lot of work that goes into keeping up with a hobby that is becoming so huge that teams and networks of individuals are coming together to cover the whole spectrum of tabletop gaming. That said, most of the well-known reviewers spend hours of their week preparing and producing content. Knowing this, we’ve had to decide early on what our limits were as a group and be content with that decision. But it’s evident that if you desire notoriety, you have to put in the time.
There is also a long-term commitment that is necessary to build the trust of an audience. In this way, the time issue is one of consistency and dedication. Kind of like an engine building game, but your content is your tableau and you are… still you.
2. Interact with the community
You should be doing this anyway if you desire to work in game design or production. The gaming community is the everything to gaming. Think about it – the bedrock of this hobby requires that individuals come together to participate in some fashion and if you are extending your interest to a larger community, your participation should grow as well. What’s great about this particular aspect is that it provides a great experience to all the parties involved. As a fan of Crits Happen, it was a blast to interact with Scott Morris from my end. It’s also extremely rewarding when we get emails or comments that people are enjoying our contributions. Don’t ignore how important it is to be a part of the larger gaming community. And by the way, you need to do this with more than just Facebook – I think twitter was recommended by Scott. And if you’re designing games, you should be making connections with publishers in a similar fashion.
3. Find your niche
While I think this advice is great for creating focus and defining your approach, I’m not sure this needs to be an exercise in finding a unique niche. It’s great if you can, like Edward and Amanda from Heavy Cardboard, but I think it’s more important you pursue your passion. It’s still paramount to maintain originality within your niche, but I’m not convinced that you can’t cover a particular aspect of gaming just because someone else got there first. Keep it authentic and be yourself, and you’ll enjoy the work a lot longer. This is particularly important to networks and groups that contain multiple pursuits and personalities. Knowing your niche will help in refining your work and making your efforts concise.
4. Your perspective will change
As more of an expectation than advice, I find this to be an important take-a-way and point of consideration. Almost everyone we talked to said that for one reason or another gaming is different for them now that it’s driven by their content. Be it goals or deadlines, most said that the games they play are dictated by what they plan to review, or vice-versa. Another interesting comment was that always working on something new gives little time to revisit older games that you enjoyed playing, or that when you have free time you don’t feel like playing games at all as that’s become a lot like work. While most of us can understand changes in gaming preferences as our palates refine and our tastes mature, there is an entire level these guys and gals experience that I’ve yet to face and I can definitely see how it could affect the way I enjoy our hobby.
5. You gotta game too
This is less a take-a-way from conversations with the convention peeps and more an observation of how I spent my time at the convention and how we spend our hobby time in general. It’s ironic that a desire to dig deeper into gaming has had an adverse effect to how much time we get to spend playing games. But it is important to play lots of games if not for the principle of the thing then at least to maintain some level of experience. There are times I envy the gamers at our local game store who are content to make their weekly game night, meanwhile I have a video shoot and another waiting at home to render (not to mention this blog to type up). So as a final piece to cap off my thoughts, don’t get so busy you forget to game.
For some great advice, check out these panel videos from WT3C and some of our hobby’s finest.