Writing for Board Games

Those who’ve been reading for awhile might have noticed that I’ve been talking about board games a lot. I’ve been working on a number of projects that have required me to be jotting down and wordsmithing shorter pieces to fit into and otherwise support a number of games. It has been an amazing opportunity, and it has been a fascinating way of stretching my writing skills. The shifting opportunity to try to have a drastic impact in as few words and lines as possible. It is almost like a way to develop the skills to develop these potent and powerful sentences.

There’s more to this as well – having talked with some other game designers and spent almost a year in the field of both board games and RPGs, and longer still working on RPGs, I think that there is a trend towards pushing towards deeper and more meaningful experiences. The glut of games on Kickstarter, combined with the business tendency to deliver the minimum viable product, has resulted in strict competition.

Now, this isn’t decrying the delivery of the minimum viable product, per se, it is rather an argument that what our minimum product can reasonably be is being forced higher due to the nature of competition. Recently, for example, I was playing one dungeon delve game that had a heavy plot sentiment tied to it. As we read through the pieces of fluff, we saw that most of them were, frankly, terrible. The kind of thing that had long been done away with in proper fiction writing.

We’re now seeing that games of all sorts are being forced into competition, and it is forcing us to up our games. People are reviewing board games, comparing them. As an industry, that’s good. Like every other medium, we’re forced to improve and become progressively better under these pressures. Much like we saw with video games, they’re forced to continue to improve. Better writing, better art, and so on. The inherent tension between art and commerce ensures that things happen like this.

And be certain – board games are a form of art, in the same way that video games and countless other media are. We’re always improving and I think that more and more each part of a game is going to have to be perfect. The audiences for board games are already expecting drastically better quality and commitment from their games. That’s not going to stop, and I think we’re about to hit a race of people finding better and better ways to create fullsome experiences from their board games.

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