First, I’ll tell you right off the bat that BGG (BoardGameGeek.com) is an invaluable and entirely necessary part of your Kickstarter endeavors.
No BGG presence = little to no success. Period.
Second, I am so grateful to the BGG community for their presence and support! I am also endlessly grateful to the Kickstarter community. And where those 2 worlds overlap, I am eternally grateful. So, I’m very happy to offer my help here to aid new Kickstarter Project Leads become a productive, and helpful, member of the BGG world.
Third, it needs to be said, that BGG is the single least new-user-friendly site that I have ever attempted use of. And I know few who disagree with my sentiment.
(I warned you in the intro Article that I would be candid in these KSACs. ; )
It is for these 3 reasons, and the 2 groups of people mentioned above, that I have written this column. BGG deserves the help, you need the help, and BGG is nigh impossible to figure out without the help.
All that being said: I make no claims that this article in particular is a comprehensive guide. For this topic, that would be nigh impossible, as BGG is huge. What I am going to do here is show new/er users how to:
- Make an Account.
- Get around the forums.
- Become accepted by the community.
- Set up a Game Page for their new game.
- *Get banner ads set up.*
- Avoid getting their account deleted.
- End up part of the mutually benefiting BGG community.
Step #1: Make an Account
If you’ve ever made an account with any other Forum site, (or any site for that matter), this process is easy enough. But I want to give you some tips.
Start in the top left of BoardGameGeek.com’s home page, and click “Register“.
It’ll bring you here:
2. For your Email – You should have a specialized Email account for your gaming needs. Don’t use your 15 year old personal one in Yahoo. Create a new email account in Gmail. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.
3. For your First and Last Name, you by means need to put in your actual name. Know that what you do put will show up on every post you make. (compare post image below).
4. Your Location can be seen by anyone who looks at your profile. Honesty is better here, in case you intend to trade games later. (A cool aspect of BGG for another time.)
Submit, then go to your email address to confirm your account, then you’ll be brought to this page…
…with ads-a-plenty! BGG lives on them, as most sites do. If you really hate ads you can donate where the green arrow shows and they’ll give you an option to disable ads. But then you won’t learn about cool Kickstarter games unless you hunt for the information.
I personally like the ads as they’re 90% Kickstarter games!
(See what I mean about needing this place?)
Once you’ve got an account you’re homepage will look like this:
We’ll refer to this “Guide Image” above, and the Colored Stars I added to it, repeatedly in the next few steps.
Step #2: Getting around the Forums.
BGG is, at its heart, a Forum site. It’s a huge glorified forum with a bajillion other things to offer, but it’s a forum. So let’s tackle this first.
Looking at the Guide Image, you’ll see light blue stars. There you can find the forums and the Geeklists (a different version of a forum, when it really comes down to it). Let’s start by going to the forums.
The main forum page shows a laundry list of forums for every major topic you can hope for.
I’m always amazed how far down you can scroll here.
If you’re like me, you play first, and read the instructions later. So head to the General Forum, and find something worth posting. Click on “post thread” to start a new one, or join a topic you find interesting and reply!
I made a new post, and in it I made a basic introduction. You’ll see the results of that in a bit. But what I want to show you is on the left. Your user info (green star).
You can see your Username (space included), your first & last “name”, your country, an envelope that anyone can click to send you GeekMail (a private message through the site, which you can have forwarded to your real email account), and the much disdained: “BGG New User” badge. I’ll show you how to make this info area more acceptable to the community in Step 3.
Off to the right on that post, you’ll see a little symbol that looks like a newspaper with an arrow on it (red star). You can “Subscribe” to your (or any) post, and you’ll be notified whenever somebody responds to the thread; super useful for posts regarding your own game/products.
In a matter of minutes you’ll get responses to your post…
(Identity of reply hidden for courtesy.)
I dare say, we’re off to a great start! This user was kind, interpreted stuff from my Username, and invited discussion from me. These are the people that make BGG wonderful!
(No, that is not secretly me, it’s actually a really cool person I don’t know …yet!)
The next forum you should visit (or the first, if you like to read the instructions before playing) is the “New User Questions” forum.
There you’ll see a bunch of “Pinned” threads. That means they’re never moving down the list so they’re always easy to find. The ones with a green star (added by me to the image) are worth skimming through now.
Step #3: Become Accepted by the Community
There are a lot of discriminations held against “new user”s, and each experienced user has a different one; their idea of how things should be. Then there’s also the moderators, more on them in Step #6. Here I want to cover the most common areas that the haters will hate on you for.
Bear in mind, hating may come in clear and obvious ways written in posts, but mostly it’ll never be said or seen. A little something that they find that gives them reason to not like, or trust, or welcome, or speak to you. Some BGG users can be a bit elitist at times. But it’s a gaming site… so play the game.
Item #1 – The “BGG New User Badge”.
That puppy will sit on your account for a full 30 days and there’s nothing you can do about it. So you should create your account AT LEAST 30 days before you launch your first Kickstarter because the BGG New User badge is prejudiced against by everyone. Some will be really nice because you’re new, others will hate on you for being new (both are technically pre-judgements). If you are new and are trying to sell them something, people get pretty indignant. (Which may be a little childish and certainly unwelcoming, but it’s going to happen. This is part of the “not-New-User-Friendly” part of the site; but at the same time, you can understand their point.) Just be ready for it.
Item #2– No Avatar.
Go back to the New User Forum read over the “How to get GeekGold Post.”
But to be true, the fastest way to get GeekGold, especially as a new user, is to beg for it.
It’s funny cause it’s true.
On the New User Forum you’ll see the “No Geek Left Behind…” post with a bajillion thumbs and replies… go there and plead your case. Somebody will throw some GG at you. This is part of the wonderful community aspect of the site. Rejoice in it.
Once you have GG go into your profile by clicking your user name at the top of the page.
-Halfway down that new profile page, click “Buy Avatar”.
-Spend the 30 GG and viola! You can now upload any Avatar you like.
-Once you have chosen an Avatar you can change it for free anytime forever; but people will learn you by your Avatar, so make sure that you pick a good one before you establish yourself on the site, and only change it if you have good cause. I propose that your game company’s logo would be an excellent choice.
Special Thanks goes out to BGG user and dear friend: VolcanoLotus for all the advice here in #2, who once gave it to me (along with the 30 GG for my Avatar! ; )
Item #3 – No Microbadges.
Microbadges are just that, little-badges of honor. …Micro honor, but honor none-the-less. They’re gained via GG also, 8 at a time to be specific. You can own any number, but can only ever display 8 at a time. Here are my account’s current 5…
(Note the company logo Avatar now appearing).
My five (at the bottom of the image) indicate:
Married, Martial Arts Fan, Proud Father, Catholic (Mary), and our very own Gate Keeper Games Microbadge (which we designed, and you can “buy” – If you decide to get it let me know, I’d appreciate it.)
As you can see, just from looking over the 5 Microbadges a person displays, you can learn a lot about them quickly. So choose wisely what 5 you display.
You can find a Microbadge for just about anything! ; )
(I think my next one might be “Optimus Prime”. …I’m just saying.)
The option to “Buy Microbadge” is just under “Buy Avatar” in your Profile.
It’s pretty clear that the GG/Avatar/MicroBadge/NewUser thing is a way to FORCE you to LEARN to be a part of the COMMUNITY, instead of just USING it. It’s a bit long-winded of a system to wade through it all, but I agree that it gets the job done of weeding out trolls and ab-users.
(Note: the “Game Designer” and “Game Publisher” badges will be given to you for free when you establish yourself on the site as such. If you don’t get them shortly after setting up your game page, then you can contact a moderator and ask for them. The patron badges can be earned by donating to support site, see far below.)
Item #4 – No participation.
This is simple. Contribute to the site, with helpful comments and thoughts in the areas of the site that most attract you. You can write articles, offer to help moderate image uploads, auction off items for charity, create your own Game Review pages, and a bajillion other things. At the very least update your account’s profile page with some info.
People that know your symbol (Avatar) will remember you by it, and feel more comfortable when you’re around, unless you choose to be one of the guys the contributes to the douche-baggery that happens on the site. In which case, you’ll feel better about yourself (falsely) and others will generally ignore you (…or thumbs your posts). It’s a mixed bag. I suggest you shoot for the former.
Step #4: Setting up a Game Page
This is actually fairly easy if you have a half decent guide. This is my attempt at giving that.
Looking the Guide Image way above above, next to the White Star is “Misc”, click on that.
Under “Add to Database” click on “Board Game”.
(Note: Don’t add your idea for a board game. Add your Kickstarter-ready board game that exists, and has been played, and liked, and …exists.)
There will be a guide at the top of the page show below that gives you the rules of what to do and not to do. You should read it over. And here I’ll offer a little help with each item line by line.
Primary Name – The Final and Full title of your game.
Description – Describe it in a fun, short, exciting way with some relevant facts.
Year Published – This can be the future if that’s the reality of it.
Min Players – Obvious
Max Players – Obvious
Min Age – Obvious (use what will be printed on the game box)
Playing Time – For the average and experienced player. First time games always take longer, we know.
Category – Click, and select from the list. You may select multiple. Do not select more than are actually accurate. I wouldn’t select PnP unless it’s only a PnP. Some of them are really freaking random, and some you wish were there are not; others will be found in Mechanic below.
Mechanic – Click, and select from the list. Pick as many as are accurate. Be honest. People will decided if they like those mechanics and you want them to know they exist.
I suggest doing “Category” and “Mechanic” together with your partner, so you can contemplate and decide together.
Family – Click. You can put “Kickstarter”.
Expands – Leave it blank. It’s for an expansion related to the game, which this item is probably not.
Contains – Leave it blank. This is if this is a compilation; ie: if it were a re-release of Munchkin with 4 main Expansions, etc.
Reimplements – Blank, unless your game resurrects an old one, but you need the rights to the old for that and if you had those, you’d know all this stuff by now.
Designer – Click, add yourself! …or the guy that made the game you are publishing.
Artist – Click, add your artists. If your artist doesn’t show up, you can add them. (Misc->Add to Database->Person. When you do so, make sure you list your game under their artist credits.) Notes to Admins rectify the “but this is all happening at the same time” conundrum.
Publisher – Yourself or, ideally, your company’s name, and “Self-Published”. If you are having your game published by another company, put their company name, and not “Self-Published”.
Version Nickname – “First Edition” will get the job done.
Version Publisher – Same as Publisher
Version Artist – Just leave it blank, or it’s redundant from above.
Year Published – Same as above.
Product Code – Blank.
Dimensions – If you know your box size (which you should by now), then enter it. If not, measure a game box you have that you expect to use the same size as.
Weight – Blank.
Languages – That the game will definitely be available in.
Release Date – Obvious
Release Comment – Blank, unless your release date is custom.
Release Status – “Unreleased”
Pre-Order Type – Probably “Kickstarter”
Pre-Order URL – You don’t know it and can’t. I’d suggest putting your homepage’s URL, which you can than update that page with the Kickstarter link.
Pre-Order Start Date – The day your KS launches, if unsure, just leave it blank, it’s fine, I promise.
Pre-Order End Date – The day it ends…
Notes to Admin – This would be where your thank them for reviewing this for you, and mention any new people that you added during the process, so they can find and confirm them at the same time. If you are the publisher and/or designer, you could request the badges here. Again: thank them. Some are paid, but most are volunteers.
Save – Only when you’re sure. Some is editable later, some is not. None of it will make or break your KS life, save for the using the correct and final game name.
Once all of that is done and you’re Game Page is made and approved your game will show up in GeekLinks (option when making a forum post).
But before you go linking all over the place, you’ll want go look at the Game Page and a couple more things.
1) Upload a mess of photos.
A volunteer mod will approve or reject them usually within 24 hours. You’ll get the hang of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Here’s a guide to which “Gallery” you want to select for each image when uploading them because it can be rather hard to discern, and they won’t fix it for you, they’ll only deny it if they disapprove of your choice.
- Game – Actual pics of the game or definitive components. If cards, put at least 2 in each pic or it will be rejected for “Individual Component”. Thumbed “Game” images can make the Hotness!
- People – Humans. If people are the central object/concept of the image, select People.
- Creative – Anything else. Fan art, component mock ups, alternate pics for the manual, etc.
Extra tips for image uploads…
- Put a short worthy caption on every one, either a description or a quote for “People” images.
- Put an occasional comment/note to admin saying thank you (most volunteer their time).
- Rejected images are returned with really odd reasons why, listed in weird percentages that rarely add up to 100%. If you think your image is worthy, yet denied for poor reasons, change the Gallery and submit again tomorrow. You just might catch a different moderator who sees what you see.
- Poor images will get rejected, repeatedly, and should be. Don’t be sore. Clean them up and try again when they’re ready. (Fuzzy, repeats, inappropriate, etc.) Or concede that the image isn’t worthy and move on. No one image will make or break your game page (except your Box Cover Art, but that will get approved easily).
- Ask that your Box Cover Art image be made the main image for the Game Page (via a comment on the image during the upload process).
2) Link to your website.
- On your Game Page go the the “Weblinks” section. Click “Add Link”.
- Fill in the form. “Primary Name” will be the next for link on your page. Submit.
- If you have fan sites, forum sites, or any other worthy and related site, add them too.
- Once your game’s main website link is approved. (Everything has to be approved)… Return to Web Links Section and click “Browse” and on the link that is where people can find out about the game and order it in the future, click “Propose Default”, and submit it with a note.
- Once that’s approved (again), it will show up on the main Game Page in the topmost section next to “Website”. …Simple right!? ; )
3) Update your “More Information” section (click Edit, very simple).
4) Update your “Files” section with your rules manual in PDF form when they’re available (click “Upload”, fairly simple).
5) Sit and watch.
The majority of the rest of the other areas of your Game Page will auto-populate as people create threads in your name and drop your GeekLink all over creation.
Step #5 – Get Banner Ads Set Up.
Banner ads can be (are) VERY TIME CONSUMING, and expensive, but they’re going to get you pledges, and if you’re reasonable in your chosen quantities, they WILL pay for themselves.
They are an upfront cost that you’re going to have to pay whether you succeed on Kickstarter or you don’t. So be prepared to budget that out of your PERSONAL finances. If you succeed on Kickstarter, and budget well, you can pay yourself back for them.
First – Review BGG’s Marketing Guidelines, downloadable PDF here. (Updated as of 11/27/13). Know what your costs are (Budget!) and what the specifications are.
Second – Download Gimp. It’s free photoshop type software. I’ve done every last bit of my everything in it for The King’s Armory. In my humble opinion, it’s more user friendly than Photoshop as well. It has its quirks and limitations, but for $0, you can’t really write them letters of complaint.
Third – Design your static ad (non-Flash). Use art & fonts from your game. Make it compelling in a short amount of time. Make sure it shows the energy of your game. (Light hearted games should have bright ads that invite the viewer into a world of smiles, and happy, and fun; Dark games… we’ll you’ve seen those ads a lot. Either way, you can use ads that you’ve seen that worked their magic on you as inspiration for your own ads.)
3.5 – Flash Banners – If you have the time and the devotion to making your own Flash Ads, I used the Aleo Intro Flash Banner Maker. It’s not free, but it’s fairly cheap and gets the job done. If you choose to use this, Tip: make all images that you import the EXACT same size as the full banner ad (with as much transparency in the layer as needed to achieve that), because using the image re-location offset controls is nothing short of painful. Just trust me. If anyone knows another tool with an easier user interface, I’m open to knowing about it, and will link it here.
(Note: if you choose to make flash ads, you still also need static ones.)
Fourth – Email Chad Krizan (aka:Chaddyboy), the Marketing guru for BGG at firstname.lastname@example.org, let him know you’re interested, and tell him that I sent you. He’s super nice and one of my absolute best experiences with BGG to date. 5 Stars.
Fifth – Consider making all of your ads now. Take the ad you have, make a new one for “Fully Funded!”; another for “Stretch Goals Unlocked”; another for “Final Week”; “Final Days”; “Final 48 Hours”; “LAST DAY”. They can be identical with that area of text changed. This will make you very happy in the final 48 hours when you don’t have to spend time fiddling with ads, when you’d rather update your stretch goals chart and respond to backers. When it’s time for the new ad to start running, email it to Chad at least 12 hours in advance and ask him to switch the old out for the new. He’s fast, pleasant, and does this all the time; so you don’t have to feel bad for asking.
Step #6 – Avoid getting your account deleted.
For all that is great about BGG, it is run largely by volunteer Moderators (or “mods”). And in my relatively solid experience, moderators of forums tend to be heavy-handed, crotchety, somewhat self-important, and highly volatile. And I’ll be honest (and candid) here when I say that: BGG’s moderators have been no different. While some are cool and reasonable people, there are some that fit all of the above adjectives and outright ruin the site for many people.
Remember: I love BGG and I’m writing this whole thing to help you and them. But their moderators have at times been vicious and very heavy handed to both myself and especially to my Kickstarter Backers, up to and including deleting some of their accounts.
My personality type can easily be described as: “Over-protective Older Brother”. I am here to help everyone, but when you hurt my own, I’m not going to gloss over it. It is what it is.
So to that end, I think you should be aware of what you’re getting yourself into by choosing to be part of BGG, especially as a dev/pub.
So here’s some tips to keep your account, and that of your wonderful Backers safe:
If it’s not obvious: Read the Community Rules. They are merciless in enforcing them, and they won’t warn you before deleting your HARD WORK in posts, no matter who you are (Joel Eddy, etc.), OR even your account (several of my backers).
Most of what I’m about to mention is listed in the Community Rules, but they deserve honorable mention here based on our experiences, and our effort to help you as a new Dev.
Rules you should know clearly now:
- Spamming, sex, certain uses of profanity, etc., will rightfully get you slapped around.
- You can not “promote” yourself or your game. This rule is somewhat absurd, as they’ll take your money for advertising (ads displayed in all areas), but not let you mention your own Kickstarter in many, if not most, areas without jumping down your throat. I see a bit of a dichotomy/double-standard there. But it is the case, so be aware.
- You can’t even “promote” another’s game. This is a VERY fine line; because there are some areas where you can get away with it, and others that you can’t. And if a moderator thinks that you are doing so, you’ll get the post deleted; and if they deem your account isn’t old enough, or hasn’t contributed enough, they’ll delete that too …without warning. Therefore this one is of particular relevance to your Backers. (I have friends that have refused to return to BGG for what happened to them during one of our campaigns.) Again, be aware, and be sure to be clear with your backers when you ask them for support on BGG.
(Note: You can get away with just about anything on your own Game Page, except for “Contests”, and it usually works out better anyway.)
- No contests. …unless it’s a contest. You can’t run “Unofficial Contests” even if there are ZERO prizes. The only contests you can run are the ones that cost $1,200 and run only 1 week. This sort of stuff makes a guy wonder about a site’s current motivations in life… but I’ll leave that for you to decide on your own.
Aside from the few issues that I and my backers have had, the place is otherwise fairly well run and respectable. Especially when you consider the traffic it gets in any given day. They really do do a really good job; and they know it needs work, and as I understand, they are endeavoring to make improvements. So with time I think BGG will become even better.
I have made good new friends on BGG.
Chad (the ad guy) even let us wait until after BOTH of our Kickstarters were over to pay for our ad invoices. We got to meet at GenCon 2014 and got to chat for a good 5 mins before he got called back to work.
And I’m honored to say that Aldie (one of the owners) even pledged for the FULLLLL version of TKA, plus an extra copy! Also met him in person at GenCon 2014, very busy at the time, but quite approachable.
Overall, the place is great. And YOU as a new Kickstarter Project Lead, can’t live without it. But do take note of where the landmines are.
Step #7 – End up part of the mutually benefiting BGG community.
This is the goal.
Don’t just use them because you think you can. You’ll get sucked in by the greatness anyway and end up part of it. You can’t really plan to do this as a step, you just have to hope it happens organically at some point. You’ll know when it’s official. I can’t say how… you’ll just know.
Quicklinks to a few items of potential interest to those who have become familiar with BGG…
How to make a new 16×16 pixel Microbadge – Here.
How to rate and comment on a game and give/get “thumbs” on images – Here.
How to support BGG with cash donations – Here.
On BGG and want our Microbadge? Support us by getting it here and adding it to your displayed set!
Click here to be brought to Article #9: Speed Tips!