Milestones of Obsession

Sometimes I think about what classes as being a success as a game designer, and what classes as being successful for me.  I do harbour an idea at the back of my mind that it would be lovely to actually be able to earn a living designing (and otherwise being involved in the publication of) games, which makes it a rare hobby for me that I would even consider such a thing. But I also recognise that very few game designers do earn a living from the business, and to do so requires a lot of work and dedication, some great skills, and a whole dollop of luck.  I can safely forget about that as anything other than a "wouldn't it be nice..." aspiration and get on with my life otherwise.  More realistic would be the hope that at some point I will be able to earn enough from designing games that I cover my expenses in doing so and maybe even fund my unhealthy game acquisition habit.

A little more concretely, I have come to realise that there have been a number of milestones that I got a bit excited about when they happened, and a load more that I am looking forward to, many of which are achievable, but some are extremely unlikely, to say the least.  So, in the spirit of distracting myself from doing something more productive, I made a list of some of the milestones I could think of...
  • Have an entry for a game on BGG.  This was I Know an Old Woman, in 2015.
  • Have someone other than me logging a BGG play for my game.  Same game, though this was a personal friend.  It was last year's March Hares that was the first with plays logged by a complete stranger to me.
  • Have someone rating my game on BGG.  As with the logging, March Hares was my first game rated by strangers, but IKaOW got a rating first.
  • Sign a game for publication.  Nearly a year ago, not one, but two games!
  • Have a physical copy of my published game. Still waiting for this, but should be in the next few months.
  • Receiving royalties for the first time.  Hopefully before the end of this year.
  • Have someone with more logged plays of one of my games on BGG than I do.  It's actually close on March Hares, but not quite there - I think I need a professionally published game (coming really soon...) to achieve this one.
  • Have a game with enough BGG ratings to have a ranking.  I believe the threshold is something like 35 ratings, so fingers crossed.
  • Have a BGG top 1000 ranked game.  I don't think my first two released games will exactly set the BGG ratings alight (not really the target audience), but I can hope for this if I manage to get something released that works well for the hobby game market.
  • Have a "1" rating on BGG from that guy who rates almost everything a "1".  It's a badge of honour!
  • Have a BGG top 100 ranked game.  This is one that I doubt I will ever achieve as it is quite an exclusive club, but if it happens I suspect I'll be buying the drinks!
  • Have a game published that is a collaboration with another designer. I'm hoping to make progress with collaborations one of these days, so it could happen.
  • Be published by more than one publisher.  If the plan to start pitching games in earnest this year, I might be able to tick this off in the next couple of years or so.
  • Have someone asking me to sign their copy of one of my games.   This has actually already happened -- someone who bought one of the preview copies of Giftmas from us at Essen asked for an autograph. A weird feeling.
  • Have a game published in a language other than English.  No idea how likely this is, or how soon it might happen, but it's possible if one of my games does reasonably well.
  • Have an expansion published for one of my games.  Well, Shooting Party is eminently expandable, and I can think of some expansion options for Invaded, so it could happen.
  • Have a game I designed reviewed by Tom Vassal.  Or any video reviewer really, but Tom would be a kinda landmark, I guess.  (Maybe bonus points if he throws the game out the window.)
OK, so that's a bit of time wasted.  Maybe now I have that out of my mind I can get on with something else now... :)


  1. I'd add a few milestones that you've already achieved:
    - Make a prototype of a board game you've designed
    - Playtest your prototype game
    - Have a group of people you've never met playtest your game design

    And a few more that I have personally on my list:
    - Have a game sell out and go into a second print run
    - Have a game picked up by a big box store: Target, Walmart, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble, etc.
    - Have a game win a Spiel de Jahres, Origins Award, or Boardgamegeek award
    - Have a game make the BGG hotness
    - Have someone describe my game as "their favorite game"

    1. Oh: and "- See my game on the shelves of a retail store"

  2. Hi John, thanks for commenting. Yeah, you're totally right about those first three -- definitely milestones worthy of note, though they seem so long ago now! :)

    And I like your other milestones and will probably add them to my list too. The awards ones are definitely in the "well, I can dream" category, especially the SdJ in my mind, as I remember the point in the 90's when I found out about the SdJ and realised, hey, I really like all the games with that badge. That would be something special, though I don't think any of the games I am working on are the right sort of thing to even be considered, even if they were good enough. Maybe one day...