How I turned my passion for board games into a job
Today I want to talk to you about The Board Game Bulletin. More specifically, I want to share how my simple idea for a magazine changed the directory of my life. Let’s get started.
In the Fall of 2018, I was just starting my freshman year of college at New Mexico State University. Like many freshmen in college, I had no clear purpose of what it was I wanted to actually get out of college and over the course of my time in school, I bounced around between different degrees fairly regularly. From biochemistry to psychology to anthropology to accounting.. I tried a lot of different hats and none of them really felt like they fit.
What I did know was that I loved board games. My tiny dorm room closet was full of them and I had a variety of different prototype games that I had designed in various stages of development… I had built up a good group of college gamers and we played regularly, often 4 or 5 nights a week.
But as much as I loved having my dedicated game group, I wanted more. I wanted to talk to more people who were as passionate as I was about this incredible hobby that I had stumbled into.
Very quickly, I learned that there were plenty of other people to engage with online, and I very happily dove down the rabbit hole of BoardGameGeek and Youtube creators, enthralled with the amount of awesome content creators that existed for the sole purpose of lifting up this hobby.
As you might expect, I got carried away. I spent a lot less time focus on school and a lot more time playing games and consuming gaming content. I loved seeing the passion of content creators and I knew I wanted to share my passion as well.
But I also knew that I wanted to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps that’s a bit selfish of me, but that’s who I was and still am. I’m a risk-taker who wants to pursue novel ideas, not try and do what others are doing.
As my time in college dragged on, my free time very quickly began to shrink. I got married in 2019 and had my first son that year. I was working on designing several games in between time spent in classes and studying. In short, life got busy. And as a side-effect of life getting busy, I discovered what I believed to be a major problem with some of my favorite board game content creators: They do TOO much.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is no way an attempt to disparage any of the many content creators that are out there. Let’s take one of the biggest groups as an example: The Dice Tower. I LOVE the Dice Tower. The impact they have had in growing the board game hobby and creating a safe space for gamers is tremendous. I love the quality and the entertainment value of pretty much everything they put out and enjoy the dynamics of the many different personalities on their shows. But here’s the problem I have: I can’t keep up with it all.
And I use The Dice Tower as an example but this isn’t something limited to just them. As the content creation space has evolved and become more competitive, more and more creators are pushing to churn out as much content as possible. I love a lot of different creators, but when so many of them started putting out hour-long new videos every single day, posting multiple reviews per week, live-streaming every other weekday… I often felt like I was missing out on keeping up with lots of awesome communities and content simply because staying engaged with all those different creators was just too hard.
I saw a need in my own life for more accessible board game content. I wanted to hit the same quality of content of creators that I Iove like The Dice Tower but keep the quantity of my content at a level that felt more manageable for people with less free time. So, in December of 2019, I launched The Board Game Bulletin. A monthly magazine comprised of fun articles, interviews with other creators, gaming news, Kickstarter summaries, photography, crossword puzzles... My goal was to toe the line between helping people feel like they were keeping up with the industry without having to spend a significant amount of time watching super long videos or reading way too many articles every single day.
Over time that vision remained the same while the format of the content I put out shifted. What started as a monthly downloadable PDF eventually developed into a more interactive website with content posted as often as once a week. I experimented with video content, collaborations, changing up my writing style… Over time the magazine grew to have just over 500 email subscribers. (In the context of Youtube or some other major content creators, that may not seem like a lot... But it was huge for me!)
So why did it all of the sudden stop in July of 2021? 4 Key Reasons…
1) My wife had just graduated and was getting ready to start her PHD in Athens, GA… A town some 22 hours of driving away from where we currently lived.
2) We were expecting the birth of our 2nd son in October, and with my wife starting graduate school, that meant I was going to be the primary stay-at-home caretaker of our kids.
3) After moving to Athens, I met the lovely folks that run Keymaster Games. You might know them from their massive hit PARKS, or any one of the many other awesome games in their catalog. They were a little familiar with the work I had been doing, and offered my a part-time job working in customer service and community management as well as doing some ad-hoc writing and editing work.
So, it’s clear that time-wise, I’ve gotten even more limited in terms of the scope of projects that I can be actively pursuing in my free time. But that wasn’t the only issue, which leads me to Key Reason #4
4) Despite the relative success of The BGB, I wasn’t really satisfied with what I was getting out of it. I set out to accomplish creating more accessible content, and in a way I think I succeeded. But I was missing that key spark that made me interested in content creation in the first place. I wanted to engage with community. As much as we had been getting good website traffic and regular readers and an increase in subscribers… I hadn’t built any meaningful relationships or had interesting discussions with any of them. People liked and consumed the content I put out, but there was no additional engagement beyond that.
It just didn’t make sense to keep doing it anymore… But that doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful to what it has done for me. I published a game! I’m getting paid to work for a gaming company! I’ve discovered and built relationships with so many cool content creators and gamers! I’m still passionate about pursuing engagement with this awesome community. The Board Game Bulletin changed my life and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but it’s time for me to move on and pursue I’m so I’m not going anywhere.
So here’s the new plan:
Every other Tuesday, I’m going to post an article (most will be shorter than this one) and I’m going to talk about board games. But instead of trying to fulfill some need that I think exists in the hobby, I’m just going to write about what I’m interested in and passionate about. I might talk about recent news, a Kickstarter project that's piqued my interest, a specific game or publisher, and so on...
Whatever it is, I can promise you that I’ll only be talking about the things that I actually want to talk with others about. I hope that this new version of The Board Game Bulletin can be a safe place to drive more conversation about this hobby and a place where I can get to know more of the people that make it great. (Like you!)
So be sure to subscribe and then drop me a message in the comments below. Tell me about what first got you into gaming, or who your favorite content creator is, or just a fun fact about yourself and let’s chat.
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