The Dutch tabletop games podcast ‘Het Ludieke Gezelschap’ contacted me to chat about the playtesting Guild ‘Spellenmaakgilde’ and discuss our activities. Especially now a 3rd location will start with events in Ede, in the center of the Netherlands. It is in Dutch, check out episode 73.
In the first weekend of July once again the yearly game designer convention was organised in Göttingen. The SAZ has taken on the organisation and the location changed to the Lokhalle. Together with a fellow designer and a game illustrator we participated on Saturday. Time to look back (for more tips and tricks see this blog on a visit 2 years ago).
Some rough numbers: around 160 designers were present and around 80 publisher representatives. Some publishers were represented by 3 or more, while other publishers had 1 scout that stalked the hall. There were also agents, who scout for prototypes they then pitch to publishers all around the world. It was a very productive event for us, getting interest in many of the prototypes we brought.
Some personal impressions:
- We talked to publishers and agents from Germany (most were), Switzerland, Austria, Lithuania, Belgium and Russia.
- The SAZ indicates who will be there (some companies were not mentioned but still were present). Emailing those companies in advance helped with making appointments. I was a bit late (1 week in advance), and should have done it sooner. Luckily, compared to big conventions like Spiel Essen, it was still possible to make some appointments. Publisher have a full focus on meeting (new) designers at this event.
- Making sell-sheets, to pitch concept(s) works really well. These can be used to place on your table, hang on the pin-board and put into publishers’s folders they will look into. This year I made them just before the weekend and not emailed them
- Sunday is relatively less busy with publishers and this year we decided to be only present on Saturday. That did feel a bit short and rushed. Sometimes it was asked whether we would be there Sunday as well, to play a concept or talk more. For next time, I will consider going the full weekend again.
- When being present on Sunday: the event is then open for the public and they might love to play your game. People enjoying your game is great advertisement, but do keep check if publisher would also like to talk to you.
- I brought 2 published games that are available for sub-licensing outside the Netherlands. While most publisher look for new concepts I did get some interest in these and could then introduce them to the original publishers.
- Another Dutch designer could not join, but send me demo-copies of his kickstarted game (Rollecate). 5 publishers were interested in checking it out and accepted a copy to take away. Whether this results in anything we will have to see, but this does seem to work to a degree.
- Going as a team makes it much more fun. We had experienced this prior and is true still. And we could help each other out with playing a demo and by referring publishers to each other.
- Some designers had a prototype in a rough state, not much playtested or developed yet. They got useful feedback but I heard one publisher also say they were being polite and not see these talks as useful for them. Seeing how making games takes a lot of effort and time I get that. It is stating the obvious perhaps, but do playtest and bring fleshed-out games. They certainly do not have to be finished, however. Some concept I brought I could indicate what still needs to be done (or how to improve it). There should be a good core of a game that can be assessed.
- Note to self: make better conversation notes. After 15 talks some scribbled down key words is not ideal to remember what has been discussed and what follow-up has been agreed upon (extra nice: a spreadsheet with names, contacts, summary of talks and what actions you need to to next).
In short: preparation and representation will lead to better meetings!
Based on our experiences this is a really good event to pitch and to network. Once you have established a lot of contacts with publishers it might be less needed to go there. However even ‘big names’ are there to pitch (Friedemann Friese, Michael Kiesling). That is actually what makes this event more special: first time designers and veterans are there, all passionate about games and their newest concepts.
This was our 3rd visit and we each brought more different concepts and improved our preparation. In the end all our prototypes got some publisher interest, actually. Of course, the path from interest to publication is perilous, so we’ll see what comes out of it. It is encouraging for sure.
Beginning of June we had another playtesting sessions. It was a small crowd that showed up. However, it was great to see students playtest their year 1 to year 4 projects! After the summer break we will be back with events. Until that time students, the Makerspace is a great spot to setup a playtest! 😉
Tuesday afternoon 2 April we had another playtesting event at our study, supported once again by the study association Glitch. This time we had around 25 students showing up, most of them looking for feedback. On top of that we had a few external guests: a VR game company that wanted input on their VR multiplayer survival game and a tabletop designer who playtested a board game.
Check out the picture below. In a few week we will have the next event!
In my work as a lecturer at the Hanze Applied University we focus on the digital games industry. To showcase more where this industry stands in the north of the Netherlands, they made a video with interviews of many participants in this field: students, company owners and lecturers. If you want to know more about the industry and see me appear, check it out:
There is second video which showcases some work, including Studio Bleep’s Augmented Reality Storywall: awesome wallpaper in a hospital that ‘comes to life’:
Overview of the video’s and read more about the local game incubator association : https://sginn.nl/resultaten/
On Tuesday 22 January we had a rather impromptu playtesting session. The moment was right after the project deadline of 1st year students and just before the deadline of 2nd year students of our CMD study. So the turnup was a bit lower than usual. Still there were multiple groups getting feedback on their prototype.
Stay tuned, soon we might have an event with students from other studies participating…!
On 11 December 2018 we had another playtesting event at our CMD multimedia study. Students presented their digital school projects, their personal work and even a tabletop game going for crowdfunding on Kickstarter right now (Epic Story of Blank and Blank). Some students assessed each other’s art and shared tips. And some graduate students had a paper prototype of their mobile app that aims to have kids do playful activities outside. Below some pictures of the event.
It was nice again to see the diverse types of projects! Save the date: Thursday 24 January will be the next Test & Chill playtesting event!
Once again we had a playtesting afternoon. Students of all study years were present and many concepts and prototypes were demonstrated. It was cool to see many types of projects: group work, individual work, some well developed, others still rough work in progress, digital and card games.
We will have 2 playtesting events again next block. Aaaaand students: to work out those design and prototyping skills join the Day Jam 15 November!
As a lecturer, game designer and organiser of playtesting events it is a balancing act what to focus on. The paid job has priority of course, as other live events and responsibilities. Game design has gotten some attention, and coming year hopefully more so 🙂 (enough ideas in the works for that).
The Game Design Guild (in Dutch ‘Spellenmaakgilde’) also got some attention, by me and others. I started doing this to support fellow designers and see what synergy could be created. Slowly but surely this is happeningIt remains work in progress, but the next small improvements are nice to mention, as they offer more structure and opportunity in our local game design habitat:
Slack is some form of chat site, similar to Discord if you know that one, and we started one for the Guild a while ago. While the group is still small, the created slack channel is a nice way to chat about ideas for the guilds and proofread game rules. Plus some local artists also pitched their art portfolio recently. So there is some engagement and I hope it will grow bigger.
Thanks to help of my friend Douwe the Guild (‘Spellenmaakgilde’) now has a slick mailchimp newsletter since this summer. And I have to say, after tinkering with the tool, it is quite nice to create (basic) lay-outs. And finally, after some more tinkering we now have a signup form, yay! You can subscribe here.
Last year 2 Dutch game designers, Ellis Hendriksen and Dennis Merkx worked together with the ‘Spellenspektakel‘, the biggest Dutch tabletop game convention, to offer discounted demonstration tables for local game designers. This year we took up the challenge and are facilitating demo tables. 10 tables are booked fully for the event on 10 and 11 November 2018. Visit the ‘Auteursplein’ and meet designers, buy their games and play their games in progress.
While we usually are present at the Ducosim conventions (a national tabletop game organisation), we have yet to have other locations were we structurally offer playtesting events. There are other of course that take initiative and Utrecht and Amsterdam have playtesting events often.
Two digital game industry professionals and board game enthousiasts, Friso Roolvink & Mitchel Bonnema, will host the first event in Leeuwarden on Friday 16th of November. We will see what the turn up will be, but the city has quite a (digital) design scene and the initial interest is there!
What is next? We will see. One other idea I like to pursue is to interview local designers and post the conversations in Dutch and English. If you have an interest in that, certain questions you would like to have answered or perhaps you like to participate as a published designer: contact us!
We have kicked the playtesting year off! Once again, with the support of the study association Glitch we had a great playtesting event at our study Communication & Multimedia Design. Students from all years (1st years to graduating students) brought their project work and their independent work. And some teachers walked in to give their 2 cts. 🙂 Besides the digital games there were some card games playtested, and some work in progress (also nice to bring!).
I even got the opportunity to bring my RPG party game to the table and put the new rules to the test! Huzza!
In a few more weeks time for another playtesting event. And for tabletop game fans / designers: join us at the Spellenmaakgilde playtesting nights in Groningen! Speaking about tabletop games, the biggest analogue game convention in the Netherlands ‘Spellenspektakel’ is coming up and the Guild has some tables available at a reduced price to demonstrate your game! Further details are available in Dutch here, if you are non-Dutch and interested, you can contact me.