Category Archives: Thinking Big

How not to drive reviewers away from Kickstarter

I’ve been writing to a lot of reviewers over the past few weeks, to try to make sure that there are some live reviews of Shenanigans when it launches. I’m a big fan of informed choice. As I’m sure you’re already aware, some reviews won’t touch prototypes for games on Kickstarter. I don’t write to reviewers who explicitly state on their sites that they don’t do KS – that’s rude – but I always end up talking to a few who don’t by accident or because the policy change is recent. This time I’ve been asking people why they don’t do Kickstarter, partly out of curiosity but also to improve my own practices so that I don’t contribute to other reviewer’s negative experiences of the platform. I thought that it might be interesting to share some of my results.



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Rules for Taking the Piss

Humour is a great tool across the board and game design is no exception. It won’t carry a game on its own, but it can go a long way towards making a good experience great. It’s also a fantastically volatile tool, if it doesn’t work at best it’s a little embarrassing, at worst it’s outright offensive. Doing it badly can utterly sour what might otherwise be an enjoyable experience. Yet trying to get it right is also undeniably attractive, when I found out just how far musicians go in mocking each others foibles my first reaction wasn’t “Better tread carefully and keep that out of the game”. It was “Fantastic, that’s going in!”


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Stretch goals and breaking rules

I’m in the process of putting the “Shenanigans: The Musical” Kickstarter page together and it’s becoming increasignly apparent that I want to break the rules. The core game consists of 24 cards and works perfectly well as a core. Then in addition to that we have three 10 card expansions. Conventional wisdom is to include the expansions as stretch goals, but increasingly I’d like to reject conventional wisdom.

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Games for teaching

Working for a charity is giving me a fascinating glimpse into how organisations of this nature deal with their duality. On the one hand we’re fundamentally about doing something to make the world better, but on the other we’re embedded in a system which obliges us to pay the bills if we want to keep using the office in which I now type. There’s always a tension between generating revenue (whether directly or through grants) and achieving our actual goals. None of this is really my part of the operation, I’m just supposed to make a game that can be added to the post-performance merchandise stand, but eavesdropping on these conversations has refined some of my thoughts on educational games.

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