Friday, July 15, 2016

Lucky Hans and the Board Game Business

Chevee Dodd’s videocast “The Daily Shed” takes a moment to talk about the business side of the board game industry. Folks are wondering: How do you break in? How do you make the cabbage?

Short Answer from Chevee: Unless you’re a select few at Hasbro or the Exploding Cats guy, you aren’t making money.

What we think of as the board game industry is actually a pretty small niche made up of dedicated fans of the board game arts.

Even the guys producing those huge over-blown miniature games in Kickstarter are doing it because they love it. They make hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then turn around and inject that money back into making all those overblown models.

Or, if they have less business sense, they throw the money away on impossible future speculations, soon become destitute, never to be heard from again.

Let us consider one of the longest running game companies I am aware of: Hans Im Gluck. I’ve had a soft spot for the company for years, ever since I saw my first copy of Carcassonne.

The company logo is an amazing piece of graphic design.

Why is the guy riding a pig?

“Hans in Luck,” written by the Brothers Grimm, is one of the original "trading your fortune away" stories.

In the case of Hans, he starts with a big bag of gold and trades it down from horse to cow to pig and so on. Eventually he’s penniless but still happy.

If you look at the people behind the curtains of most board game companies, you find guys very similar to Hans.

People who started out with money from some other industry, and now are using that money to pursue the dreams they had while programming, managing data systems, designing aircraft, digging out ditches, or whatever else the world needed them to do.

It wasn’t the fortune that made them happy, it was the board games they got to pursue afterwards.

We all have stuff we do to pay the bills. But it’s important we also do the stuff that makes us happy, even if it's not a money-making venture. Very seldom do these two paths intersect.

Hans im Gluck found the perfect pig for the saddle they were carrying all along. We should all be so lucky.

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