A nontraditional game in a seemingly traditional market.
drop the rose colored glasses
Put on a pair of diffraction glasses and see more possibility
This is definitely something that I will have to continue to revisit as I develop my brand and push Escape The Fest! out into the world. I have talked about Escape The Fest! before, but in case you are new, it is a game that revolves around a music festival. You are ready to head home, but before you can - you need to help your friends find their lost items. There are a lot of mechanics in this game and it serves as an introduction to the tabletop hobby. All kinds of people have enjoyed the game and have pointed out that it has a good strategy that will encourage people to replay the game, it has amazing art, quick to learn, and quick to play. The theme of ETF! is something that constantly keeps me on edge with the traditional hobby game market. I know that this game won't be for everyone and that is okay, my target customer is the college student excited about their first multi-day camping festival. They may be in the middle of pregaming, getting ready for the festival to start, and hanging out with friends. Then they reach into their bag and pull out a game with some strategy compared to the normal party game.
For these people, I am looking at a lot of different avenues of not just marketing (like at actual festivals around the US) - but also utilizing festivals as potential distribution hubs. Board games and music festivals have a lot more in common than people realize, like creating stories, developing communities, and safely experiencing microcosms of the world or situations (I will talk about this late for sure).
I am also looking at licensing as potential routes to having my game grow in play. A Coachella edition of Escape The Fest! could be really cool. I could be focusing on small and region-centric runs of the game. I am really excited about the non-traditional routes I will be taking, but there is another target demographic for this game. The quasi-hobbyist gamer.
The quasi-hobbyist gamer is a group I created based on myself and many others I have met at conventions and online. These individuals are very much gamers and they can be just as happy going into their 6th hour on Twilight Imperium as they are pulling out their third casual game for a relaxing day with their friends. These people are fans of a lot but don't fangirl/boy about the properties that mean something to them. They spend time trying to convince their friends to do a game night because the bulk of their friends may not be heavy tabletop gamers. They know that they may have to give a day to hiking because it would mean a day of gaming.
Of course, the quasi-hobbyist gamer can take different forms but some other key aspects of this individual are that they are generally the gamekeeper. People know they have a library and may reach out to borrow or invite them to a party and ask for them to bring games. These people are the gatekeepers to a lot of people entering into the hobby because they aren't typically zealous and off-putting (this isn't making a claim that hobbyist gamers are - my experiences have shown that those people are more than likely going to be hobbyist gamers - the people that use 'Ameritrash' in a serious conversation).
One of the best games that serve an introduction to tabletop gaming is Splendor. This is a fantastic game and very easy to digest. The other day a person that I would consider a quasi-hobbyist was talking about for some people they know, Splendor is a hard sell and they weren't sure as to why. I will be talking a lot more in the future about what I think Publishers should be looking for, but the very first thing I can point out about Splendor is the art.
I want to make this clear, I like both pieces of art here. I am not about to trash on other games or ignore the contributions. Splendor is, for many gamers I know, the gateway into the hobby. I happened to really come into the hobby with my introduction to Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. I love all three of these games, but when you look at the art direction, these games were made to bring in a more conservative fan base.
The art, specifically in Splendor, is based on realism. There is nothing wrong with realism, but it is not the go-to art scene for everyone. I can respect a lot of what realism created, but I am not gunning for that section of the art museum. On the right is an art piece for the game Escape The Fest! and I couldn't be prouder of it. The art here is vibrant, playful, and a little psychedelic. Obviously, the art direction is strongly influenced by the theme, but I could have gone the realism route - or at least a cleaner cartoon look.
Splendor and Escape The Fest! can share shelf space for the quasi-hobbyist gamer, and they can feel comfortable suggesting either to their non-gamer friends. They say to never judge a book by its cover - let's be honest though - we do. We walk through a bookstore and we immediately are drawn to certain book covers. We make choices to see a movie at a movie theater because of the poster. We listen to the vinyl because the cover art screamed to have its vinyl played. It is important to put your best foot forward, and if we want to be truly inclusive as a community - on only do we need to focus on representation in imagery but as I have said before, we need to welcome new stories and art styles.