Monday, January 22

The Sentiment Behind Craft Wednesday

If you follow me on twitter you've probably spotted my #CraftWednesday activity on, unsurprisingly, Wednesdays. I started it towards the end of last year and I'm pleased to say that it's been reasonably successful with a decent number of people getting involved, quite a few of them from week to week.

What is #CraftWednesday I hear you ask? Every Wednesday I post a series of tweets about cool board game-related crafting activities that I've seen during the previous week and then check in with the people who have previously got involved to see how they are getting on.

I've chosen crafting as the topic as it's something close to my heart. One of the reasons I started a second board game publishing company is because I missed the hand-crafting days of the beginning of Reiver Games - I love doing the graphic design, and hand-crafting the physical games. I also enjoy doing the art, though not as much (and I'm worse at that bit!). I am by nature a maker of things. Since as far back as I can remember I've preferred making things in my spare time to consuming them (it's been variously designing roleplaying missions and scenery, painting miniatures, writing bits of computer games, making mobile apps and for a long time designing, doing the graphic design and then hand-crafting board and card games, both prototypes and for sale). I love the creativity, keeping busy and focused and finally the pride you feel looking at what you've accomplished.

I strongly believe that a board game (which have been my passion for at least thirteen or fourteen years, and if you include tabletop roleplaying and CCGs then it's nearer to 25) isn't a game if it's sat in a box on someone's shelf (whether yours or the customer's) - it's just a collection of pieces. Games are only really games when they are being played, so obviously I want the games I designed to get played. There's a couple of traditional routes to this: approach a professional publisher or Kickstart it yourself. Which are both fine, but approaching a publisher means that the design and graphic design is done by someone else and the crafting is done by a factory.

Kickstarter lets you take control, but I don't think I've got the chops or the marketing skills to do a large run successfully through Kickstarter, I'm a little uncomfortable with the Kickstarter model, plus around my young family and busy job I don't want the hassle of trying to sell off the remaining stock to shops and distributors or organise and pay for the warehousing of it. I've done that before and I know how much work is involved.

So, here I am happily hand-crafting small print runs, desperately hoping that I'm good enough at marketing (and the games are popular enough) for me to sell out of the 200 copies of Zombology that I have in flight.

But #CraftWednesday is not about me, it's about the rest of the community of gaming-related crafters. It's about sharing the cool stuff that people are making, whether it's for sale, as a gift to a friend or a stranger or as a personal project to enhance the gaming experience in your own house. It's pretty broad, covering everything from hand-made dice trays, through laser-cut dice towers, scribbled prototypes, hand-sewn game pouches and bags and 3D printed game pieces or scenery. It's about celebrating the great stuff that people are making and sharing all that creativity more widely. It's about reaching out to those members of the community who share my love of making things and sharing their projects, achievements and successes with a wider audience.

It's also about encouraging that effort. On a recent training course I heard that research has found that setting yourself a goal is great but by itself it is not enough. You are significantly more likely to achieve it if you: write it down, come up with a plan, commit to a supportive friend to doing it and provide regular updates to that friend. Doing each of those things increased the chance of success, doing them all was the most successful option. I've taken that research to heart and I've set up a Board of Advisers for Eurydice Games to help keep me accountable. I realised though that I could give that back. By spending a chunk of my time on a weekly basis checking in with people on their crafting projects I could help them be successful.

That's time well spent!

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