However long you’ve been a game designer, you’re probably aware there’s a lot of people that go into making a game. If you’ve researched how to run a Kickstarter campaign, you’re already aware of how many hats you have to wear. Those roles are needed by a publisher, even if their roles are done behind the scenes. These other behind the scenes jobs are a great way to get your foot in the door in this industry, and Joe Slack’s newest book is here to tell you how. Go pick it up here, or keep reading for the full review.
Full disclosure: I received an complimentary pre-publication copy. All thoughts remain my own.
The promise made here is to get you up to speed on those many jobs, gigs, and opportunities you didn’t know were presenting themselves.
The book’s sections on Game Creation, Publishing, Freelancing, and other roles in the industry are clear enough, but plenty of attention needs to be paid to the introduction – specifically, the skills that are part and parcel to the industry. Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and self-motivation are just a few of them, and Joe gives a reminder of the pay – it’s not the reason people seek to join this industry, after all.
Some common points are repeated multiple times:
  • You’ll likely be wearing many hats, whatever your role might be. Your experience, skills, and networking are the main elements to help you hear about the jobs, especially considering how many jobs aren’t formally advertised.
  • Becoming known as an expert in something is really helpful.
  • A lot of jobs have to do with turning a great game into a great product. If you can help with that, there are opportunities.
  • There are plenty of different options across the many facets of the board game industry: artistic, financial, marketing, management, etc.
  • Being able to package services can make your offering more valuable.
  • Soft skills like problem-solving and time management are very important.
The section on freelancing is a reminder that the vast majority of jobs working in the board game industry are actually gigs run by freelancers, not formal, full-time jobs.
A section on other jobs is another reminder of just how many people make up the industry, from manufacturing to helping people enjoy board games to other out-of-the-box ideas.
The biggest strength of the book is the quotes from industry professionals across the spectrum. They’re not full-on interviews with back-and-forth questions and answers – instead, they’re quotes that give context to a point Joe is making.
Soft skills, connections, and provable ability to do the hard work often help people get jobs in this still-informal industry. Your experience in other industries is often as helpful, and being willing to start at the bottom or take a pay cut may also be necessary.
My biggest critique is that too much of what needs doing is real-world, in-person work — the sort of thing that’s been nearly impossible over the past year, and will still be rather difficult for awhile going forward. I would have liked to see Joe’s thoughts on networking or connecting with publishers virtually, even if it’s not as evergreen as the rest of the book will be.