Mini Book Review: The Game Inventor's Guidebook

The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-playing Games & Everything in Between! by Brian Tinsman

Despite the "How to invent" in the subtitle, this book is almost exclusively about the board game industry. So if you are looking for guidance regarding development of the gameplay, you'll need to find another resource.

What the book does provide is an overview of the industry. It introduces companies and game inventors and provides insights into how the business works. The layout of the book does have an amateurish feel and it uses big fonts and line spacing, so it's a quick read.

The book does a good job at taking you through the steps and options in getting your game published, including missteps you should avoid. There's a short chapter on game development as well, but it doesn't really go into details.

The book does have a couple of problems, though. First of all, it was published in 2008, so it's getting a bit long in the tooth. For example, the chapter discussing self-publishing doesn't even mention crowdfunding as an option. A more current book could easily dedicate an entire chapter on that topic.

While, by the very nature of the industry, you will still be sending stuff around by postal mail and talking to people in person, you can't help noticing that the contact details of companies and persons in the appendix rarely include a website or an email address. I'd imagine that a much bigger part of the communication is done electronically these days (even though, eventually, you will have to send a prototype game in the mail or meet up to playtest it). It also makes you wonder how accurate that information still is, 8 years later. How many of the listed agents are still in business?

Another problem is that the book is very US-centric. Now, the US market is by far the biggest for board games in the world and the author was and is still active in that market, so that shouldn't come as a surprise. He also does try to provide a balanced view and points to the European and especially German market on several occasions. Still, if you're an aspiring game developer in Europe, this book may not be your best option. (Are there any similar books out there that focus on the European and/or German markets?)

In summary, while still a valuable resource, I think the book desperately needs an update. It should have a chapter on crowdfunding and needs to be reviewed with electronic communication in mind. Additionally, it would benefit from a chapter discussing internet communities that focus on board games. BoardGameGeek is mentioned in the appendix, without much additional information. Two resources that I can add from my limited experience are the Board Game Designers Forum and the Google+ Board Game Design community (again something that didn't even exist when the book was published). I'd also drop the contact details in the appendix and put them on a website, where they can be updated more easily.

Creative Commons Licence "Mini Book Review: The Game Inventor's Guidebook" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.


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