Recent weeks have been particularly chock-full of interesting and easy ways to kick-start your game development career. But there’s something of a trump card that hasn’t yet been revealed: the humble board game.
“But sir!” I hear you cry, “I’m here to make videogames! What’s with this analog nonsense all of a sudden?”
Slappity slap, heathen. There’s nothing wrong with a good old board game, card game, or pen and paper RPG. In fact, let us count the ways in which board game design is actually more awesome than its digital counterpart:
All of the good devs do it
In a sponsored feature entitled “How to be a Game Designer Right Now”, Game Career Guide explains several accessible ways to get into game development. The first point? “Going analog” and designing board games. Then there’s the Rock, Paper, Shotgun series on classic board games, said to be the most extensive and in-depth set of reviews the Website has ever written.
The point? Well, if you tap the shoulder of any veteran designer out there, chances are that they’re not going to frown upon board game design. Indeed, it’s quite possible that most of them have made their own analog game at some point, even if it consisted of cutting up little pieces of lined paper in primary school to make a card game for their friends.
It puts the focus where it matters
With even the easiest of videogame dev tools, there are a few hurdles to overcome. There’s events, tables of actions to choose from, sprite drawing, and bugfixing to take into account. It is, quite frankly, a horrible waste of your time. In contrast, board games and their brethren truly start to shine.
In a board game, you only have to think about those elements most crucial to the game design process: resources, rules, game balancing, and raw fun. Want a wizard to shoot a fireball every six steps? In programming terms, that becomes a chore. In a board game, the rule simply has to be declared, and the player can envision it.
It’s more fun
That’s right. It may sound like heresy, but designing board games is more fun (and more rewarding) than making a videogame. With the former, you can create a working concept in an afternoon or two, and have some like-minded friends gather around a table the very next day. And the next. If they like your game enough, you’ll probably see school or work breaks being swallowed up by these “sessions”. How many people, complete beginner or not, can say the same for their videogames?
Even if you ignore the rest of the advice in this article, remember one point above all others: board game design can be the most rewarding experience of your early game development career. You really have no excuse: if you think analog games are fun, you should be making one yourself. If you don’t think they’re fun … well, it’s time for you to make one that is.