Why Everyone Should Build Their Own Board Game

040 (1)For the last couple years, my wife and I have been in various stages of developing a board game called “Salem,” based on the Salem Witch Trials. Since “Salem” was on our back-burner while we had school and work, our game took it’s time as it meandered through the “flashes of inspiration” phase, the testing on napkins phase, the printing out cards phase, the 3rd/4th/5th versions phase, the play-testing phase, and the design phase.

Now we’re about to enter a new phase: fundraising! We have our manufacturers lined up and are trying to make $6,000 on Kickstarter to pay for the first 1,000 copies. (Update, in the first 4 days we’ve already made $23,000! Wahoo!)

It’s been a great journey so far! Here’s a few reasons why I believe everyone can benefit from building their own board game:

1. It’s a simple way to release your “inner-entrepreneur”

The beauty of board games, is that you can create anything. Your game’s rules, design, requirements, and environment are all completely up to you. The more crazy your ideas, the better.

You also get to practice solid entrepreneurial processes, testing prototypes and getting feedback quickly, trashing things that don’t work, and constantly improving your game from received feedback. During our play-testing phase, after every game we would go back to the rulebook and make some tweaks. When we finally started playing the game without any bumps, it came with a beautiful feeling of arrival.

2. You get to see inside the worlds of design and manufacturing

130 (1)Midway through the creation process, we hired an illustrator. We got to negotiate a simple contract, attend some of her drawing sessions, and get an inside look into how illustrators work. My wife took on most of the graphic design work, gaining useful skills in Photoshop and Illustrator. And as I reached out to card, hourglass, and faux book manufacturers, I learned all about foreign labor costs, boat shipping, and the whole fascinating process of the world economy. The beauty of doing this all for a simple board game is that the cost of learning all of these lessons is very low. And if our Kickstarter succeeds, the education will come with a profit.

3. The board gaming community rocks

For whatever reason, perhaps because 99% of the game-makers in this industry don’t make real money, the board game community sticks together. Just go to any game convention, and right away you’ll have people giving out free advice, offering to be a mentor, asking to play your game, etc. These are nice people! Since there isn’t a lot of money in board-gaming, there’s a whole lot of passion instead. And that passion often turns into generosity, sincere interest in others, and great people.

4. It makes you a more interesting person

Often when we get introduced to a friend of a friend, someone will bring up that Holly and I invented a board game. Immediately, our new acquaintances look at us like we’re a rich, long-lost uncle with an attic full of treasures from the lost island of Atlantis. Building a game makes you interesting. Now, just get an ant farm, and you’ll be unstoppable.

5. You will forever be known as a creator

114 (1)No matter what happens moving forward, no matter how boring of a day job you have, or how seemingly simple your life, you will always be a creator. You can pull out your masterpiece and play with your future neighbors, children, and grandchildren. And you’ll always feel a little more awesome, knowing that you added to the world’s lexicon of literature and entertainment. Hold your head high!


If you would like to learn more about our game, “Salem”, just follow this link to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/141297521/salem-a-strategic-card-game-of-deception-for-4-12


If you have any questions about starting your own board game, I’d love to help you get started! Just shoot me a note, or leave a comment.


4 Responses

  1. Jordan Ring
    | Reply

    This game looks awesome! And thanks for the great post! I have thought about wanting to create my own board game in the past, and its awesome that you are doing it and writing about it. Can’t wait to read more about it! 🙂

    • Travis Hancock
      | Reply

      Thanks Jordan! It was a blast to make. So far so good on the funding! Our first day is going well. If you move forward with making your game, let me know if you need anything!

  2. Roger Miller
    | Reply

    Loved your comments. All very true. Gets even better the more you make.

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