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The life of a board game blogger

As some of you who have followed me from the beginning may know, I started off reviewing games about a year or so ago. I have been in the hobby about six months more than that but I do find my previous hobby of computer games did help the transition somewhat.

I instantly fell in love with the huge variety of games on offer and the social buzz you get, which was absent from most computer games (unless you play on line but there is still little interaction).

As my board game knowledge grew in the first few weeks and months I noticed how much of a community in the hobby there was. I was part of a UK based group on Facebook that had around 5000 members (it stands at 6000 now) and the thing that stood out was how friendly everyone was.

Fast forward six months and I had somehow managed to make contact (and friends) with some big names in the board game industry. My contact list was growing and what was a fun hobby of telling people about the games I had played and what was good about them soon turned in to something more serious.

Board Game Exposure

The two main things that helped me build a name for myself was Kickstarter and Zatu Games. There was a huge number of games being released from indie developers that needed help getting some exposure against the big names out there. I offered free Kickstarter previews where I spoke about the games merits and why I thought it deserved your money.

These articles, that were published on the Zatu Games blog, proved very popular and soon increasingly more of my time was taken up. I set up a Facebook group where publishers, bloggers and reviewers could come and discuss whatever they liked game related. This group completely blew me away in terms of support I had, within six months it now stands at over 1000 members and has been the driving force in the creation of Board Game Exposure: Collective

BGE Collective

I was now inundated with requests and had recently signed a contract with Final Frontier to collaborate on a game design, so I needed to think fast on where to take the group. People don’t realise that I was close to stopping the group as I work full time, have two kids and still like to play games for enjoyment not just to review them.

I noticed a lot of the ‘BIG NAME’ reviewers charge and I think that’s down to the audience they have something I could not match at that point. I had made a few friends that also blogged so I reached out to them and asked about setting up a plan where when we are sent a review copy we send it on to another reviewer to also review.

This was done already on some small scale but my idea was to get at least four reviews per copy. There would be no charge for this beyond the shipping to reviewer one (and import tax if applicable) and we set a plan of around three weeks per person to review. This idea simply rocketed and I am still amazed to this day the amount of people who have contacted us to help them out.

Stonemaier Games

We were still mainly getting Kickstarter previews based in the UK or Europe and it was frustrating seeing games we really wanted to review not been given any UK exposure due to the high shipping costs.

This was one of the reasons I set the group up, so I started reaching out to publishers and finally found a break with Rise of Tribes from Breaking Games. This game was passed around three of us and Peter Vaughn was kept in the loop the whole time. He said he was very pleased with the service and this made me realise I was on to something.

With the help of my peers we carried on doing this for games that wouldn’t have been seen over here. Games like Summit from Inside Up Games would have not been reviewed once let alone three or four times all on independent channels.

Eduardo Baraf from Pencil first Games gave us a mention on one of his videos discussing paid and free reviews and after that I shortly received an email from Jamey Stegmaier, saying that he had seen the video and despite us speaking about the idea and him not truly seeing the potential, he would like to trial it and see how it works.

I have since received his games and will be reviewing and sending them out to the others to do the same.

The future for this board game blogger

In the month of September, we will be doing a special feature on Stonemaier Games, the first of its kind in the UK I believe. With a copy of all his games each reviewer will review write/video and then send on to the next person.

  • Jason Frowde will publish his reviews on his YouTube channel.
  • Nick Welford will also publish on his own YouTube channel.
  • Mark Capell-Helm will publish on his own blog.
  • Lindsay Miller has a multitude of options with a blog and YouTube channel.

I will be running articles, questions and more on both our Facebook Group and Twitter page throughout September. I hope to get feedback from Jamey along the way and I hope if nothing else we can show that the UK can provide a quality service that’s affordable despite the initial shipping cost.

Check back in a month or two to see what we have learned from this experience.