Chris is the editor of Tabletop Gaming Magazine, the UK’s largest board game, RPG and miniatures game magazine. In this episode we discuss what good tabletop game writing looks like, the ethics and effectiveness of Kickstarter previews and what ‘product’ really means.
I'm James. And this is producing fun, a podcast about making games from a product perspective. Welcome to Producing fun. This week I talked to Chris Eggett. Chris is the editor of tabletop gaming magazine. The UK is largest board, game, RPG and miniatures game magazine. And he also runs the publications own podcast. Being at the helm of this title gives him a unique perspective on how the industry works. His job sifting through a vast swathe of game related news developments and new releases gives him a broad view about what's really going on. It's very different from a designer or publisher. And that's why I thought he'd make an excellent guest for Episode Two. I wasn't wrong. But in the end, we didn't talk about the current game scene that much. Instead, we spent more time discussing more important and fundamental topics. As I suspected, Chris had a huge amount to say about how we should talk about games, which is critical if we're going to get a better understanding of how to craft these boxed experiences. But he's also very honest about what limits us from talking about them in the same way as other creative disciplines. Indeed, honesty is what I really enjoyed about this conversation. We got to steer into some slightly dangerous ground by having an open and upfront chat about more controversial topics that I hadn't really prepared for, like the hobbies often on obsession with objective reviews, or the more contentious issue of Kickstarter previews. I'm talking here both about their cold commercial value as advertising and then murky ethical questions, both issues that rarely get the nuance treatment, I think they need that said, Well, I think we do a better job than many of having a very transparent conversation about this, I wasn't completely satisfied. It's something that would repay a more detailed explanation, the future supported by more hard data. There's a lot I enjoyed in this conversation. Most illuminating for me was the revelation of how different my definition of product is from many in the industry. But Chris provides valuable insights into a range of topics, how and why his analogue magazine thrives in the digital world. Great advice for publishers looking to get the attention of media, and a taster of what's to come at the magazine's upcoming virtual spring showcase. Anyway, it's time to get on with the interview. We join, just as Chris is explaining why strong opinions about games matter so much.
Or even even if you don't enjoy opinions, you know them well enough to know, like a friend like a friend's recommendation that Chris doesn't like, this aspect of rolling rights. So next time, he says, This is rubbish because of this, I think know that. And I can look at the other bits he said and said, actually, it sounds great for me.
Yeah, of course. Well, I mean, if we think about the wider review world, or going way outside of board games, we get, for example, restaurant reviews, that still the name of the the most famous person I can think of in restaurant reviews in Britain is aa Gill. Yeah. And opinionated does not even begin to capture like the that. So I think that's really interesting that in other spaces. This is more explicit grasping of we really want to read people who have strong opinions. Yeah. Which I'd like to know what you think about that in terms of what we get in board games, but you still get these occasional discussions about objective reviewing. And yeah, which is nonsense. It is right straight up. It's nonsense. Because an objective review can only be a description of the components at best, right? And that's if you assume we have some sort of philosophical worldview, where there's a possible to have some sort of guaranteed truth, then at least we can say, these are the components in this box. So there's no way that there's no way that anything about I like about how well the game plays could possibly be objective. But why do you think it is that the game space still has strong interest in that?
When strong opinions or in the description star review?
Well, it seems it seems very obvious that what a magazine would have to tend towards, in my mind, thinking about this from a, again, a kind of evolution of market perspective, is towards being pretty opinionated? Because that's the way that all of these other more mature areas are like we've had restaurant reviews, I would assume the first restaurant newspapers, I don't know how old they are, but I could imagine they could go back to the 19th century, whereas people, no one was writing a magazine about tabletop games, as I understand it, even 30 years ago, let alone right. And actually, when when was the magazine founded?
It was some five years ago, I think,
right? It's a very, very recent, comparatively. So what is it that that means that we haven't rapidly evolved towards the state This way, everyone's like, of course, reviews are really opinionated. And they're all about opinion.
I think that is the central the central problem in game reviews, which is that we are, we are still looking at something that is ultimately a product. So obviously having a lovely meal, you're not, you're not reviewing the freshness of the fish. I mean, you are in some ways, but you're not reviewing the components of the meal. And you're reviewing the experience in some way. And same with with film, you know, you can say, you can say, objectively, this is a beautiful thing or subjectively, but we, you know, we've begun all broadly agree this is a beautiful film. It has
technical elements where we can say that yeah. And again, I wouldn't say the objective exactly, but they're slightly closer to some sort of standardised notion of technical competence in certain spheres.
Exactly. Yeah. Like, it's in focus, you know,
that is a pretty basic one, right? Actually, certain degrees of shot composition, change less radically over time, in terms of what is good or not, versus other elements that make that make sense. So
so you'll be you'll be but you're what you're really looking for, there is the experience you can have. And that's something that we all actually know is what games are about. But when it when it comes to sit down, sitting down and doing a review, because we are in such a kind of like consumers market and just in the sense of, it's about often, for people it's about buying and owning a thing as much as it is playing the games and something in some respects, because because we have things like Kickstarter, which give us these really long lead times to actually playing and we just want to talk about it anyway. So this is anything we can do. And when you finally get it, you want to say here's the stuff. And I guess I guess that's where it comes from, I think I think it's just because we are in a world of wanting, moving wanting, but we've kind of trapped with the idea that these are products, we're buying a night experiences necessarily. Yeah, which I, as I said, before, we before we started this, I think this is maybe sort of maybe the central failure of all games writing at this point, which is where while Yeah, magazines like like our own. They, we are always attempting to give you opinions, we don't do reviews, which are descriptions of the game. We tell you how it makes you feel, we tell you how how to play it a little bit, just a rough idea to see get a sense of the kind of thing you want to do. Because we're talking to a very literal audience anyway, we don't need to do the How To Guide. But I think it's the fundamental failure of all games, writing that we've none of us have quite got there in terms of saying, finding a new language, finding what we want to say interesting about our experiences that can be shared universally and understood universally. And all this sort of stuff, because we all still do anchor ourselves to the product in some way. Yeah. Which is I suppose obviously interesting being on this podcast, because we're kind of talking about product. Yeah. And itself, aren't we? So it's kind of hard to. So I'm kind of saying like, we don't we don't want to talk about in that way. But, but actually,
I want to stop you there for a second because I think that's a really interesting point when we come to the question of products and being on the podcast, because I think doing this is already making me realise how different my definition of what product is compared to other people. Because to me, in a game, the product
is the experience. Yes, yeah.
So in some ways, the components of a game to my mind are more like little pieces of engineering that build up the overall effect. And I will say that it contains a little bit more than experience and I suspect the interest that that product in games should have been my personal point of view, is also in the questions around market positioning about how the game sits on a shelf. How does it fit into someone's game nights experience, right? You have to also design a game not only for can I make the best artistic League, brilliant game, but also can I make a game that fits into the typical 20 minute filler slot before someone plays a main game of an evening or an a question? I've come up with magnet recently, which is we've had to make the box bigger than it even was before and it was already upset. And I realised we had to come up with with the rights make sure the box never got bigger than a Cadillac shelf. No, absolutely. Right. So that's like because that's effectively the de facto design standard. Yes, maybe people don't realise but is right. You can't have a game bigger than a calyx, otherwise you've got to find some annoying knock somewhere in your board game section that you can't go in the right place. So to me, the experience isn't is like 80% of what the product is. So I think that's so I think it's really interesting what you're saying in terms of what, there's this sense that you have a failure in the industry in general to capture the kind of really important part of the game. At the same time, that maybe people are thinking of products as boxes with bits in.
Yes, I think that's right. I think that's because I think that's starting to come back to actually is your original question there? Which is, because you've just answered it for me. Which is because because is a is a very difficult thing to navigate that you end up with, we end up with a couple of things, you end up with the book and geek thread, which is a review thread, which is actually a description of the stuff in a box. Yes. How long it takes to play. It took me slightly longer to play that sort of thing. You know, that you get the editorial editorialising on the feelings they had in the game are limited. You know, you usually get that, but it's very
difficult to do technical in nature. Yeah, yeah. It's like that. It's more for making an analogy here. It's closer to the technical layer of understanding filmmaking. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it was it was the light was the lighting good was the shot composition. You're not talking about? How did the shot composition contribute to how I felt at that moment in the film? It's just does that meet some basic aesthetic standards? Yes. In someone's crappy home video.
Yeah, exactly. And so I think that that's, that's one, that's one thing that happens. And the other thing that happens, and this is something that Paul Grogan tweeted about before, which is sometimes people call his how to play videos, reviews, interesting, which, which is just but and the thing is functionally actual, actually showing people or telling people what's in the box, and then how they played it, and how long it's gonna take is what sometimes functions as a review on BoardGameGeek thread say? So that's why, you know, obviously, that's why people should read magazines like like mine. Because, yeah, obviously they should that mean, just that. But yeah, any any outlet is trying to move move beyond that. Because then you get to a point where you're, we're all pushing towards a better kind of understanding of. Okay, yeah. Usually we end up in sort of Wofully conversations about like, you know, play, then we write Yes. And then, but we won't go there today. I don't think because it's just,
I think, because that is an area where you end up sounding like a French philosopher. Yes. Yeah. And I've been studying some French philosophy at university, particularly anaesthetics, it does get very circular and long and long winded. So that's, that's kind of challenging. But I think it's important to keep anchoring back to this really, I think, hopefully eminently practical point that everyone can understand, which is that what we are saying here is that really, experience is paramount how someone comes away from the table feeling a certain way about a game, which is a journey that they've probably been through, there's been highs and lows, there is drama, there are these things that we actually normally associate with Nat more narrative arts that actually can be created in the game, they have different because it's a different medium. Yeah, but and then that's what we're really interested in, really good tabletop writing is, is understanding those things, and getting to grips with those things and be able to describe and invoke so that someone can read a review, and think, oh, I can imagine how I might feel. That's it. And then and then that's what then we have this buying decision then comes on the back of rather than just it has x components. It takes y length of time to play. And it technically uses a worker placement mechanic. Right, which is, which tends to be the limit of it. And I I sure know that telling me that it's got worker placement, and you're telling me that there's auctions or telling me that something like that is rarely telling me very much. It's like a very poor signal. Yes. And it's very noisy in reality in terms of me working out the games that I you know, that I prefer the most. I mean, I I know, for example, the things that tend to typify games are, for me are more things like collaboration, or drama, or the sense of stakes, or these kinds of things that aren't really don't belong to any technical quality.
That's it. Yeah. I mean, there are things like people do enjoy knowing that this is gonna is a social deduction game. Yeah, I think things like that. I think I think that's important to include in this kind of thing. But that should be a less, it's a very important part of the game. You don't need to spend too much time on that. Because most people can find those definitions for themselves in some way. And if you are in deeply enamoured and enmeshed in the industry, and you're going to know most of these terms anyway, there's and that's that's all you need. Just need a little thing to hold on to say I was at work placement game. I don't need another one. Yeah, whatever it might be.
So that's interesting so that they aren't there is a practicality to them. I think it's important not to throw them out of the bathwater, I guess in saying terms are are things that are somewhat limited. I think social production is a very interesting example that you use, because to me, it strikes me that social deduction games games, for example, are more alike, in many ways than perhaps picking other genres. Even I would say, worker placement, that may be a few cards that get flipped over. And there's lots of people saying, well, I think you're the so and so because of this thing. And then people are having a huge argument about it, right? So I'm okay, just for the listeners here. I'm gonna sign posters. Now, I'm not a fan of social deduction games, if you didn't work it out from what I just said. But, but it is, I would challenge anyone except for maybe that perhaps the one exception of something like blood on the clock tower, which I heard is genuinely phenomenal, that they do share a very strong, such a strong familial resemblance, that it's more like, the reason that works is because that's quite a high signal to noise ratio in terms of understanding what your experience is going to be.
Would you be exactly I agree with that. Yeah. And so but what I like to do a bit again, I'm gonna come back to the review of this wall without an enemy, and the block organ, which I described as having an element of social deduction slash party game about it. Because obviously, it's all that secret information. Because if you only see the back of the other person's blocks, you don't know what troops are in what area. Which means if you're the parliamentarian is one of your goals. And one of the ways to end the game, if you can, is to capture the king. So there is an element of interesting of trying to find the king, and you don't know where he is, and you think he's here. And there's all sorts of stuff around like, I think I have a number them, but if they're all covered on bucket, and stuff like this, and that's it's not quite social deduction, but it's got this it's got this sort of like weird, kind of, like, giddiness of a party game about it. Because you, because you're trying to work out where, where certain things are and the choices you're making, you're done with, like pouring information and stuff like that. And so, so I like I like to use them sort of counterintuitive, in some ways, just to say, because it is the feeling of this, even if it's not the mechanics of this, you know, so I think turn it on his head is quite useful as well. So as long as long as you're talking to people who are in the right frame of mind for
you're explicitly using some of that more standardised, perhaps technical language. Yeah, it's almost technical language, I think, social deduction, and you're trying to use it in into the new ways to try and prize out something that he that you may have been on described a bit about the way that that makes
me sound really smart. I wish that's what it was.
It sounds like it is it sounds like exactly what it is.
I sound like a cotton cowboy and say I just call him as I see him.
Yeah. Well, actually, let's, let's bring that in there to stay on this topic. So we've got this problem at the moment that we could be doing a much better job of describing experience. And I'm really interested, because from my point of view, is exactly how I feel. i The only difference is the angle I'm coming in from things from our is I want to build the best possible products. This is mostly defined by the overall experience that it creates, that experience could start with seeing the box in the retail store that could taking the shrink out, the first thing that happens when you open the box, all of those things, for me are components of experience, but it's still experience that matters. I'm interested in a kind of more fiendish way from the point of engineering, right? So I want to I do want to learn what is objective in the sense of what is what is repeatable? Yeah, that tends to generate a certain kind of emotional reaction in order to craft an experience, right. So that's, that's my, I have that kind of interest in objectivity. That's maybe very different to what people interested in, but there's some of them into that. So obviously, will be very useful for me to also have access to really good game writing, because it means that I'm able to understand better about experiences that games are creating, I can then study the games. That's how they did that. So the question then becomes how do we as an industry then get better? How are we going to solve this problem of increasingly writing with more maturity about experience?
I think it comes to fold. So you know, we're a commercial magazine really, I you know, it's I talk a good philosophical game I think about this, but that ultimately, we aren't we are a commercial magazine, but um, so we it's I find myself in a weird place with this where so experiences you're talking about, they're like unboxing the thing about unboxing the things I was just thinking just then I thinking I've got a copy of super fancy brought over here and that's a game where I lifted the lid off. I went fuck. Because, yes, it would Not only giant pieces of plastic, but which is just always fun, right? And also, they were all contained in game trays, things that stacked beautifully on top of each other. And it was just like, Oh, my God, there's a lot of stuff in here. And but can I write truly about that? Yeah. You know, and I think and again, this is another sort of bridging part where we're not quite able to use the kind of language we talked about mechanics with. Or we try to talk about mechanics with for the component aspects of it, which would also cure us of the descriptive problems. Right? So Oh, interesting. Yeah. So like, if we were somehow able to transpose that language, it's be able to cover that experience, in a way. And I suppose really, you just have to say, Chris, this is, you know, you've got 600 words on a page. So you're not gonna be able to give over so much time to how it felt when you took things out of the box.
But like, this is the practical limit there,
there's practically but also, if we want the menu, if booked, so it's going to be very hard for us to do that. But in theory, we if we could apply that kind of sense of mechanical language to the way or the way we tried to talk on the calculator, its aspiration, to the physical components as well, because just to say to anyone listen to the same Chris sounds like an absolute snob who just wants to play some really dry engine building thing that's just about shuffling things around and having this beautiful engine in his head that as a co well said, so we want sighs I've always stuck with which is a good year, a game is a game that gets an engine really, really, really hot and important plug on the last term, so and so he actually also mentioned this idea of taking a game you love your game you love and playing it for one more round. So when the game ends, just if it will let you in some way, just play one more hour or set it up to play with a few too many blueprint cards or whatever it is, to see what it does to you. The answer is usually it completely goes off the rails because they had to pull the plug then yeah, yeah. But there's no way. And so what gave you that was like a nice little description of maybe how we feel when we're playing Euro games. Yeah, obviously comes from one of the smartest people in
this this engine running really hot. Yeah. Like, I think that's a really great description of how these games work.
Just to come from one of the smartest people in industry. It's not me, it's cool. I think he's done. He's done a talk before. I think he just recycled that one to me. But But I think it's
you don't you don't junk, good material, right. Bring the value out of good material.
Thing is it stays in my head. I mean, you've done this to me before actually, we talked, we played magnate once. And we talked about how I'd kind of if you gave it to me, or we just came to it through a discussion. But how theme is the way is a way for people to balance on? If the rules aren't clear, but the theme is true to the mechanics, you can often lean on the theme to work out what the rule means. Yes. And I think you gave me that. Yes, I
think I think I remember us discussing it. Certainly at the time. It was clearly put us that. But certainly your experiments are very strong and enduring belief of mine. Certainly.
Yeah. So there's these little things, which I think are very good examples of our interactions with games. They stay in my brain forever, as well as we've just launched in there like shrapnel. But yeah. And yes, come right back round, if we could use that level of understanding on our components somehow. And the feelings we have of using the hard part of the product. Yeah. And the experiences that we get from them. And so I'm using that sort of interchangeably there a lot of stuff in product and also experience. But then that's kind of what I'm saying is we should be able to if we could somehow bring those all together into a view that or a piece. Anything I think a piece let's say
we're saying, so would it be fair to characterise what you're saying is that partly then the way that we improve the writing is by allowing these things to merge,
is that the time or the way we talk about them to merge or to try and use the same techniques in some way? I don't know if it's really going to work. But I think what I'm really saying is that there's part of this there's a there's a fair few magazines who go to this. It's not the render things more theoretical side of things. And then there's a lot of then there's us who I believe would kind of be In the middle. And then there's on the other side of things, which is the product review, which might on BGG, which might as well be on Amazon. Right? Yeah, completely. I mean, and like we're, we're trying to, we're trying to and you're trying to thread that needle that encapsulates both ends of it and actually brings it to the middle actually
understand the middle again. So there's a kind of the the reviews he said, that are more like list of components, which can be eg they could be an Amazon. And then the other end, you're talking about, I guess, the kind of really deep game writing, and it's sort of like essays or Yeah,
I guess, I guess essays, I guess. Just theoretical discussions of right, which is where you win, which is where you end up in beginner. John Paul Sartre and things, right, yes. Maybe he's a bad example, because he's an existentialist. So maybe that's actually a really bad example.
This is I think this is interesting. So I don't know if you'll agree with this concrete example. One of the people that I feel in industry who gets closest to that is Dan Thoreau space birth. So I, I love his work. And his Patreon exclusive stuff is all like the deep theoretical essay pieces about the nature of how to represent get historical games, or how, how can historical events come to life and the problems that present? But he also, obviously, his main stock, and trade is publishing reviews that are drawing on that tradition? But obviously, they're still talking about the ultimately a product and giving you a sense of whether or not you would want to buy it. Would you agree with that?
So I have not read his writing, I must say, immediately, which is the look of shock in your face, and probably people just throwing their podcatcher is out the window.
Just a very simple thing to say to that. Is that not enough people have? I think it's I think it's just something I just think you'd really enjoy it. I think more than anything, yeah,
I will, I will, I will hunt that down immediately. But if, if he's attempting to bridge that gap, then he's doing the work that we're all trying to do, which is just trying to get there closer to kind of, I'm gonna say legitimising the median. But I've got many quotes going on through that, for those at home. There's, there's, there's something we need to do that takes us beyond product product review, and also doesn't let us run off into academic nonsense. Right. And that's, that's, that's, I guess what I'm trying to get to there through my massive meandering answer to a very quite simple question of how do we do it?
Well, I start with an introduction. That's it. Yeah. I write about three mechanics, and then a nice little funny end, and we publish it, which could be, which could have been the answer, I guess that one will be honest, I get the sense that most of the audience would be much more interested in the by its nature. Meandering answered in to some extent, in the sense that in the best possible way, that that's a that's a really tough, nuanced subject. It's really hard to unpick, so I kind of knew that the answer would naturally go in that direction, because that's how it is. So I would love to talk more about that another time, because I think this is an incredibly rich seam that we could get into more on. But before we do, I'm wondering, you mentioned, like, we remember this where there's a cold commercial reality of the fact that we have 600 words to play with, you can't write one of your Ron Paul Sartre esque essays about the nature of play every time you want to talk about the latest spin on Uno. So so as a result, you've got these other kind of commercial pressures. And I think what would be really interesting, I think is really critical talk about in this podcast is that positioning of the magazine in general, and how it sits in its marketplace. So I'd like to understand a little bit more about if we just kind of place it about we talked a bit about what it's not about doing essays, but firstly, I guess I want to understand how does it sit next to other reviewers in from a more markets perspective? And what do you what unique thing do you do for your readers that no one else does, and how does it justify the place of the magazine in the marketplace?
We are a a analogue reading medium for a analogue hobby. We are we are we are on the thing that your hobby is made up of is made out of paper, your boards are made out of cardboard, you know, for the most part and I think very is a very I hate to bring up but the whole lockdown thing, everyone's feels very atomized, very desperate, desperate, desperately, desperately stretched them in some sort. have psychic societal way, you know? And I think that just having even just having a print magazine that isn't that, you know, that isn't in the magazine isn't SEO to hell. You know, when you, you know, when you read an article online and you're like, okay, that heading didn't need to be there, that's all the key words. And you're like, I don't know how much I really trust this as much in the way I, I would trust something that just been written for the sake of me buying a product, you know, but also, you can trust that we're, we're not writing for other people. That's the other thing. You know, because you are buying the magazine, the magazine is the product that you're buying. And so you can trust that we are editorially independent, which we are. I actually don't see what. Sorry, I don't see what adverts are getting in. Right. Okay. Until a couple of days before we get to printing because it's not my business. Yeah, we have a certain number of hours. I know there's a certain number of pages I need to make an account for, you know, make available. You know which support is more generally, but they are is a general support. You know, it's it's not pretend to advertorial we don't do anything like that. Yeah, we don't do. We don't? We don't even have at the moment, although I don't think I'd be too bad to do something like therapy sponsored painting garden, something like that, which we haven't been painting Garden magazine. And
they have this this deliberate? I think the technical term is Chinese Wolf.
Possibly, yes. I'm not sure which side of it I'm on. I guess the Mongolians?
I think it's not the greatest side rather than the the one dynasty side or something? No, I think actually to failure and dynasty were actually the Mongolian. So that's not going to help. What I know is is that the important I wanted that scathing satire, and I think it's a term from No, it's just me, showcasing historical knowledge, I resisted the question and then thinking it was terribly important to correct myself, there you go. The Chinese war is a concept which I first came across in banking and financial sector, which is where there are certain parts of banks, which are not supposed to communicate with other parts, I think they go quite far that they have things like, if you try to place an internal telephone call between two different departments, it will block the telephone call. So there are things like that that level, I'm assuming you don't really need to have that level at the magazine. But, but you do have this kind of Chinese wall where you are purely focused, you don't know what the adverts are going to be, you know, there are going to be some ad slots for page layouts. Otherwise, that's what you
know, I don't know what's gonna go on those pages. And sometimes I look at it. And this is, if I may, if I'm, yeah, I guess this is a moan about the industry in some ways, which is, I want to hear about all of your games, not just the ones that you can I can arrange an interview for? Yeah, like, I have occasionally seen an advert gone. Oh, that looks good. Why didn't they? Why did they bring me? Why did they? Why did they find me looking at straightaway, which is lovely. It's great. Because like, sports, the mag, you know, and the absolute good, you can put whatever you like on it. But it's just it's just occasionally we have it's just a funny thing. That's interesting. And I do I do work with the sales team. Obviously, they know what I'm putting in the magazine, because obviously after know, ahead, and stuff like that, so they can, you know, I guess so against and stuff like that. But it's not my business.
So we have this other Chinese war, and this is a big part of the part of what magazine does is trust. Yeah, right. Because you can trust it, you're actually paying for it in a very straightforward way. You pay a cover price, you get an opinion about about something, and that you can that you can rely on there. There's something in that you're saying as well, where there's almost an association with the analogue nature of the medium itself that sort of suits an analogue publication. Is that is that just because there's a kind of nice, aesthetic meeting of those two? Or is it more something practical about the fact that the kind of people that like board games are also the kind of people that like handling physical things?
I think there's there's an element of that latter part. Certainly. I think. And I think this is where I was going with the word were locked screens, and we have been for a year and a half. Yeah. And just the idea that you wouldn't have to look at something on a screen. Right? Yeah, it's good. And, and this is me just doing the prelude to whatever real place in the magazine is in everyone's hearts. And the truth is, in reality, and everyone's smallest room, which is We are the premier Lou Reed. I mean, when there is longer articles for certain things, and they're shorter articles for other things and If you just want to pick out a piece of it, we're there in a way that is entirely on your terms. Because of the physical medium. There's no. And I'm not just talking about reading with what you can read anywhere, it's fine. But there's none of the I've got five minutes. I just checked Twitter. I'm having I suffer five psychic damage. Yeah. Exactly. So
psychic damage to horror, whatever you want to call it. Like, completely? Yeah, it's gotten over that.
You know, like that. So, in that way, you know, we are with that. So that's, that's, that's where I think our place really is that we are. Because we're hopefully a good read. Hopefully, we're interesting. And we are also, we are also your friends, in the sense of, you know, that if you read an industrial Dan, Jolyon Blackwell, whoever, in any of any of our writers in the magazine, you've read them for a few months now. And you've got to know them a little bit, ah, that's important. And you may be read a feature on that they put together or you read their carpet manifesto, which is, like our opinion piece column, right, just a short blast of 600 words of usually the smallest hill that people are willing to die on. Which is good, you know, this little run out liberty for what we're going for. And always really interesting, because people think way different to the way you think they think. So you read these people, and you know them, and you maybe instruct them on Twitter as well, and that sort of thing. And that means when they come to recommend you something, you go, Well, of course, Dan's gonna like that. It's about alien. Okay, favourite film, I think it's fan films, actually, the fly? Can't quite remember. But, but you get to know these people. And that means that you, you, you're kind of in communication with them in a way that you don't necessarily get on the product, end of things you do get it another magazine is obviously another online platforms that do proper editorial. But in terms of the product reviews, from a, I say, random BGG user, you probably do know them in some ways, but they're not gonna be able to play everything for you in the with the consistency that we can. It's very, very unlikely
they'd be able to do that. And so you're building up this sense of what are their taste effectively. And that and that's and who they are. And this can inform. When you're reading the review, this is informing you about more about the game, because actually, it isn't just a question of what they're writing. It's about what they're writing and what you know about them.
That is it. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So that's, I mean, that's a big part of it anyway, you know. And as I said, it's not not entirely unique, but we are in this, this position where, you know, no one's getting paid for a review. No, I mean, they are getting paid to write it obviously can pay for their words, but no one's really, you know, sponsored reviews or anything like that. We don't do anything weird like that. So you are getting absolute honesty. And sometimes you see magazines, and they're in the same section as in the board game, sort of gaming section. And you see magazines, which are just advertorial E series on Kickstarter, as well, you see, magazine magazines being put together, but people pay 500 quid to write five pages. And that's advertorial and people back it and buy it. And it's weird. You know, it's interesting,
so that I was involved in a conversation on Twitter just last night, actually, with some reviewers discussing this, including Matt throw, I don't know if he's someone Yeah, read some of that stuff. So. And I got to say, from my personal publisher experience, I gotta be careful how much I say here. But I am very, very unconvinced that a lot of the paid for stuff even drives much value. So let's say I am a ruthless game marketer. And I want to get as many backers as possible based on my ruthless measurement. I'm not convinced that none of those paid that paid stuff even works. When I looked at who was coming to back the Kickstarter, for magnet, for example, the top earned media reviewers not only beat all of the preview stuff, but they beat all of the advertising five times over.
Yeah, people real review. Right. Right. So So I've
questioned a lot of this, I find this entire aspect of the industry kind of interesting. And I used to previewer in the process of doing magnate because it was partly an insurance policy. Very Fortunately, it turned out that lots and lots of people wanted to review it and do genuine coverage of it. And were really interested in in just just for its sake. And also, I don't want to denigrate any of the previews here and says, you know, they did a pretty solid job one of them that I did, I wasn't hugely impressed by it. I'm not going to say who it is. But in general, that paid content just didn't do very much. So I find this quite interesting why there's so much of it, because I'm just like, look like it would just fail.
Yeah, I mean, what I'd say is like, people should take out an advert if they want to advertise. Yeah, yeah, I will say however, we one thing we do do those paid that involves editorial team is we do preview videos now. Because we have access to the studio, and that sort of stuff. So but that's kind of still separated, because we're not, we're not reviewing, we're just giving overviews and stuff like that. And also, it's usually for Kickstarters, so we're not even going to talk about it for a year. Yeah, most of the time, on any kind of editorial, like review level where you're getting a real verdict or anything. Yeah. And also, we obviously, only work with people we like, as well. So we just say like not to completely say that we're entirely pure and muddied by money in some way. But just together in the very successful as well, since I'm sorry, to say they're very successful in terms of the Reach they get. And so in that, in that sense, they're very successful in terms of, as you say, the hard end, where you are where it's like, do people back at from, from paid media, I don't know is where I have to land.
I was one of these ones, where I aspire to be something that's to being as transparent as I feel I can be on those things with people because I do feel like that would be would change the conversation a little bit. My sense of it is, and I'm going to be, maybe take a bit of a risk here is that some of the pre viewers and again, I can't speak to, to what tabletop game magazine does. But if I took some of the previews in the in the wider market, the video ones, it seems like the business is more about, there are people who can't get reviews by really good reviewers simply because you know, you have a very small number of games, you can review, even when you apply those filters we talked about earlier, tabletop game magazine, it's still you know, you've got to look for the things that are hits, what looks really promising. People have got their lovely little darling project, Kickstarter probably hasn't been very, very optimised towards thinking about what the market really needs, and what demand really well, they need they feel they need some reviews, because if there's no reviews on the Kickstarter page, then they're not raising any money. So as a result, they pay for previews. And the problem is, is that because it's it's it's a paid preview, and people get a sense quite quickly of what who the paid reviewers are and who the reviewers who are not taking money as very quickly. It might drive a lot of views, but maybe doesn't drive lots of conversions again. I don't have any broad numbers so that I only have my own numbers for that. So but I don't know it for me anyway, good questions, the value of some of that. And I do feel like it might be a bit of a bubble, actually, that some of the paid reviewers will move on and some will will continue to be great content, because if it comes from a name that they trust, that it's just good reach. It may do well. But
I think it's I mean, I always think that videos done for Kickstarters, like that label ones we do. So, you know, and our most our most recent one was for the avatar extensions, which, which are, which look great. And we're just gonna get an overview of what they are. And we covered every expansion up until then, which you'll get in the complete collection. Right? And so, right, it's like, if you want the potted history of everdale, we've actually given you that as a as, as the publisher of tabletop tycoon or Starling games. Because two hats, right? They they have got a potted history of evidence that they can, they can basically chop up and use as they wish for the rest of time, get something that's going to last you for the second and third reprint if it goes well. You know, you want the setup guide and how to play and here's the expansions and all that sort of stuff. You want to be able to deal with that video out for 10 years. That's how I think about it.
That makes a lot of sense. So something I think it's really important for me to stay at this point is what about the previews? Because like I said, we work with a few magnate is that all the ones that worked really well. Were almost exactly that. So I had a absolutely brilliant experience working with Monique of girls game shelf, which longer runs as a site but obviously individually creative after different things. And she did the most incredible Rules video on magnates and I am eternally grateful. It was absolutely brilliant, very compact, very, very strong and That was an example to me of actually, I think what you're saying to be really fair, really good content because it wasn't here's my opinion that I've paid for. Right? And actually, I wasn't comfortable with working with anyone who would, who was taking that stance, it was more like, here's a useful description that could be used for different people. So I had someone for example work with in German, as well, it was brilliant to see a something another language which is difficult to get when you're coming from the Anglosphere. And again, it's just a it's just a description of like, this is what the game is, this is how the wave more like it was a description how people understand what it was, and then the same thing with another American reviewer as well. Or sorry, previewer. And actually, yeah, and actually, as you said, there's some really interesting creative processes, potentially, here as well. We'll talk about the everdale example. That is something that then continues to be a useful asset, which is just just a very interesting, more creative take. On the whole the whole thing.
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think I mean, this Kickstarter often gets a kicking for a lot of people. Yeah, yeah. Again, funny clothes problems we have in the industry. Yeah. Well, people cool problems, we have an industry anyway. And I don't think it's really true in most cases, but there is a kind of pump and dump mechanic in there. Of, there's a single point where everything works, everything goes into it. And then you kind of you do hit obviously, to hear from creators after that point, but everything that happens after that is you're only talking to this, like really talk to select group people who've already backed it. Yeah. And you're no longer talking to the world. Yeah. So and so then, in terms of adding to like a greater conversation about gaming, or, you know, any any sort of philosophical point that you want to make around that kind of thing. You've already closed yourself off to a group of people who are only interested in the product. Yeah, all that stuff. Yeah, makes sense. And so as you say, getting something that lasts a bit longer, and does contribute beyond that, you know, something that's gonna be useful for when it does come to retail, actually, even though you didn't intended to contribute, when you kicked up at it, you know?
I mean, I was just just a shout out to Monique, again, that rules video It was phenomenal. And I can do, it is one of those things where that actually will be, even though it's for the prototype version, it will still be doing a really good job for people to help them learn the game, if they choose not to use the package tutorial, which I probably will because but but if they choose that it kind of ultimately makes sense. I mean, I looked at doing a Rules video for magnets, kind of retail Rules video video, and actually came to conclusion in some ways it undermined the value that I placed in the tutorial by making it look like I'm hedging my bets. Where is that tutorial? I'm really bloody proud of you. And actually, I think it will do an excellent job. So hat but bots, for some people that will be learning style will instead be the Rules video and having my next video that will be huge, I think for that. So I'm really bad about that. So you're right, there are these, there are pieces of this puzzle. And I think it is a bit simple just to talk about saying oh, it's all bad. There's all problems here. When actually there's there's it's a more subtle picture. Yes. But essentially why I'm glad we've been able to actually discuss this one up front, because I feel like it's sometimes a discussion that's having maybe overly harsh tones. Yeah. And it's good to be able to explore the nuance of the question a little bit as to what works, what doesn't work. And certain things have asset value, you know, as just brilliant little creations that go way beyond beyond the setting and initial, oh, we're paying for this for conversions, which is I think, not the way to circle.
Yeah, I mean, so just to echo that kind of sentiment. I'm quite happy to talk about this stuff. openly and possibly in slightly rude terms. I suppose. Someone who's listening is that I have I have a sordid past in marketing. You know, I did copywriting and I ran the advantage as copywriters did SEO, marketing and that sort of stuff, PPC, all that sort of online digital stuff, right? And one of the sicknesses that marketers get is they destroy the product. By looking at too many graphs. They destroy the thing they're meant to be holding central to everything they do. And that is something that is a general function of our like datafied society or whatever, I guess. You know, I'm going to sound like someone who's claiming claiming they've been shattered and on Facebook, or something, but like, everyone just cares about the likes or you know that that's all Yeah, but, but it doesn't It is a weird thing to your head doesn't mean to say that something is better than something else because a number says so. And it's a distancing tool that is used by marketers. Because it's because the measurement is also a distance into, because having the measurement, while good sometimes for measuring something and saying this line line goes up, and that's good. It also obfuscates whether the thing that's being sold is good or bad, or what people want, or anything like that. And that's a question. And that's a question that people should like, always be asking themselves, when they're, when they're marketing something is like, not just, I need more clicks. It should be, is this product still good? Is it still what's right? Or do we need to change the product? Do we need to do something differently? You know, obviously, all sorts of things you can do around you know, talking to people and stuff like that, but, but in general, just keeping, keeping in mind that you are you have, you have something of worth that is central, that has nothing to do with lines going up and down. is like really important thing for marketers. Because if you lose sight of that, and you just you forget about product, you just look at the the numbers, you end up kind of in a weird, like a postmodern sort of, like, void, completely. And I think that can happen. I've I've not run a Kickstarter myself. Although I'd love to, I think I think I should maybe do one just for the learning process. Maybe?
It's a great thing to do. I think it would, you would learn a lot from it.
Yeah, I'd love I think maybe maybe I would do something. But maybe that's not the spirit to go into a Kickstarter with anyway. We're doing by I assume the feedback you get in numbers from that. And all the analytical tools you have tied in with it, make you try and make the pushes you towards trying to make decisions off those numbers. And I think that's actually very far away from the sort of generative heart of Kickstarter, and crowdfunding generally, which is, I've got a cool thing. Are there enough people in different places? I am not standing outside my house waving around saying you want to buy it. I'm saying everyone moves. Would you all like to buy one copy of this? You happen to be all over the world? We've all got the same interest. And that's why we can make it happen. Because you can pay for my manufacturing upfront. Yeah. And that's, yeah, that's the heart of it. And that gets I guess that's something that gets lost by maybe, maybe those numbers. But that's that's a speculation.
I think it's a it's a reasonable speculation. My, it's a really interesting one. Because in terms of good product management, you have to stay on top of your metrics, because you need something that's a sense, check all the time as to what you're doing. But the problem becomes of the classic maxim that the moment whatever you choose to measure, will be what you optimise towards. And so reducing your perspective to two or three metrics that could get you to do terrible, terrible things. I think that we really forget about this. I mean, there's the whole issue of people seeing things like the Netflix documentary, like the social dilemma, know a bit about the practice of Silicon Valley know that this has been a huge problem. In terms of the the way in which it's like, well, any amount of increasing engagement is good, because increasing engagement means more eyeballs means more time on page means more advertising money. Unfortunately, it turns out that the things that people engage with the most because we're wired evolutionary to do with this are negative things. So it's like, therefore correct for the AI to pour more negative nonsense into people's feeds. And that's a really good recent real world example of that kind of optimization strategy. And I can see the same thing happened to Kickstarter. And it's a pity because it's, it's completely logical that companies end up using it as a pure preorder platform, the products can be made it sitting in a warehouse, and really, it's just a marketing event. Logical you would do that, because the numbers have said so. And it's like, you can use the tool that way. But it does mean that we end up in this world where it does get further and further away from its kind of original purpose. But I understand the pull of it. It's such a powerful marketing event. There are so many consumers on it, to say, oh, no, I will be terribly virtuous and not use that further down the line is a difficult decision to take. Yeah. So yeah, it's a tough one.
Yeah. I think. So I spoke to Laura game on TableTop, and a while ago, and she she mentioned that they've run a crowdfunding platform. It's also integrated a nice interesting way. There's no There's no separate backerkit thing that you have to go to afterwards to jump through several hoops to actually get to this. So that's kind of their, their their selling point. But her feeling is that for everyone now, it's just another sales channel. And it's not even seen as like necessarily a crowdfunding channel in the way you're talking about there to talk about that. Talk about big companies, like I think come on is maybe the best example of this where maybe it's not even a sales channel, maybe it's an advertising channel. You know, because you want a number that says, backed in 35 seconds. 1.5 million? Yeah. And you don't, because because we agree, numbers testing on things that make
great. A million seconds in seconds. Great. I can see.
But But yeah, so her idea was that actually, even even companies like come on, probably do rely on that part of the ecosystem. Yeah, as well, not necessarily in the upfront funding, but in the sense of, to sell the game at all.
Yes, I think we're there are a whole lot of different products that are genuinely challenging to do in a retail environment. I think we can never underestimate the power of Kickstarter, sweet, sweet margin. Anyone who has done any business with distributors or retailers knows that the amount of money you're making per unit on each thing you're directly selling, Kickstarter is much higher than you can in retail and distribution. So there are lots of products. I mean, this is what the team I'm in seventh continent have said that they simply couldn't bring it to retail, because it would be too expensive to do. As it happens, I actually believe that about that product. But that's another that's another story. That is an example, however, of the kind of problem that he brought up against. So it makes sense on that point, if you've got something very big and complicated, then within more niche audience, probably is a better place to have it rather than assuming that you can do the selling it to retail could actually be mistake.
something that we we need to talk about today. Yes. And my listeners would not forgive me if we didn't talk about more explicitly on the nose, I think is around this analogue versus digital question of the idea. You're an analogue magazine, digital space. And in fact, we had a, someone sent a question in about this. And I was going to cover it anyway. Because it's, it's such a critical one. But the first thing I want to say is, well, let's not forget here, the magazine was founded in 2015. Is that
around then? Yeah, yeah, I think I think is 2015. Yeah.
So what's interesting about the story is that we're not talking about a magazine, which was launched in the 1980s, and has somehow had to keep up with the times we're talking about a magazine dropped into a world of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. So we're looking at a slightly different story here, right, in terms of, we're not looking at old magazines trying to keep up but actually more like no magazine does something unique in the space.
Absolutely. Yeah. So the the story of the magazine is really the gentleman could bump. Who's working at Warner's publications group, which is where, which is where I, I work now, obviously, shout out to my employers. They, they put together a single issue of a magazine issue number one. One is deals in niche subjects. So obviously, it makes sense that board games in 2015 would still be considered by the WH Smiths market as a niche subject. For the most part, and they, they took they took the standard UK games Expo, and they sold out immediately everyone said when's the next issue? And they said, Oh, well, I spent the annual actually. And they were told that they need the needs to happen faster than that. And so they went twice a year. And then they went bimonthly. And eventually, this has been volved, after some point, magic over who's not icebreaker. And then monthly. And then Matt left, and I'm here, churning a monthly magazine, about board games, which if you think if you think about the acceleration, that was all driven by directly by consumer demand. So we no one went in saying there needs to be a monthly magazine about board games. It just got to a point where people were asking for it directly from us, right. And so what's this place in the world now? Well, it does. It does all those things that I think I kind of covered a little bit earlier about, about being about being on paper.
And what I mean in terms of subscribers, because like, that's the question I worry for if I can ask that question is exactly. You mentioned that the we've talked a little bit about what does it look a bit uniquely, I think in the space, but is around. Is that is that showing in subscriber counts? Is that? Is that still on the growth curve, that your subscribers are growing very strongly has it reached a kind of stable equilibrium?
Yeah, we were very, I mean, our subscriber numbers are very stable, you know, we, we get a lot of single issue buyers, as well. For people who buy, what usually happens is things like people buy a one off issue because of one, one article, and then eventually they'll get a quarter subscription, and then they'll decide actually, they should just get it all the time. Right. A generally generally seems to be the pattern for it. So yes, the numbers are fairly good. I mean, we recently had some digits on cars on the front cover. And that tends to sell things. Right. Yeah. So issue 52, completely sold out a couple of days after being on sale?
And what's going on? Can you tell me? Do you have circulation numbers you can share?
I think I think we print like 20,000, or something like that, when you add it all together? So yeah, fairly, fairly chunky marketer. And I think I think the thing to come back to your actual question, which is, we're not just a magazine, in a digital world, we also have a website, where we try and put as much news as we possibly can on before everyone else does, we do occasionally get a little scoop, which is quite nice. We're reviews gone there now, as well. So you can you can get our reviews online as well, if you refuse to buy magazine. There are we've got our YouTube channel where we're slowly climbing towards more more video content. Often reworking sort of classics that we like, in a format where one of us teaches the other one the game. And then we'll talk about why we why we like it. And so you get a bit of it's a bit of an actual play a bit of a how to and a bit of a sort of more general featured magazine called Have you played, which is kind of just like, it kind of is that it's like, Have you played this game? It's really good. It's just like a pure hearted recommendation of maybe a game you just forgot existed or went out, or something like that, you know, always very timely for some reason. So always getting into second edition, I mean, that sort of thing. And so with arts kind of answering that question, like Have you played this? And then that sort of thing? Then we have podcast as well. And so we are the answer is that the magazine is just the beating heart of everything. And really, it's even if you pick up the digital edition of the magazine, which is considered a subscription service called Pocket Max, you in that pocket mags version, you'll get things like we have little audio interviews, where we embed, embed a little bit, basically stuff we couldn't fit in maybe or just if there's just a funny bit, sometimes we add that in that sort of thing. So we're doing all these little bits of digitising our eye contact across the whole spectrum. And then of course, we have the massively successful Tiktok. channel as well, Charlie, Charlie, who's our online editor, who does most of the news writing, she adds disinfected features in the magazine itself as well. And for views, where she does very silly things for other people's amusement. Right. So she's pregnant.
So my question then would be, where do you see it in the future? So is it the case that you think for a long time that the print magazines still going to be the beating hearts? And the reason I asked this is because I also come from a bit of a magazine publishing background, I ran a newspaper in Croydon, a local news magazine for six years. And we produced about 48, print editions of that. And I think we took the gamble that there would always be some demand for it. I think there was we got about 15,000 circulation. But that actually, the advertising model ended up not really what didn't work for us Local Ads. I'm just convinced that maybe maybe the artist dead pretty much. Certainly for us. It didn't it didn't work out in the end, but there seems to be some demand for it. Do you? Do you see that going forward? Or is or is actually the whole shape of the company going to change over time in terms of which part of that mix are more important?
So okay, full reveal. I take off my editors mask of peeling back data, and actually my title is Head of Content for gaming. So that's going across to magazines. So that same initial WarGames as well, which is a fabulous magazine that occasionally has plastic soldiers in the front, as well as a really, really interesting articles about a lot of historical Wargaming and a lot of other stuff. So we're covering both of these, I compare these factions, and then also is my job to make us more online in some ways. I don't just mean psychologically, as I am now, which is extremely online. It's more like getting us to a point where the magazine, wire remains the engine or the heart of everything, you can sort of, you'd be able to draw a perfect map of it back from some form of media that relates to anything. So the answer is that, as far as I'm concerned, the magazine will always be there. Because he talked about the the advertising model there, you know. And, you know, I think, in addition to the actual advertising model that the newspaper suffered with, then it you probably also suffered with the concept of distrust in local news as well, I think local news took a really big hit over the last last 10 years, at least, I think it's really local news really got eaten by the Internet in a way that the major newspapers didn't, I think, maybe agree. Yeah. So I think it's, I think that's slightly different to, to compared to a niche magazine, for example. And I'm not, I'm not a salesman. But if I was going to sell you the concept of by you taking the advert on the magazine, it's because you've been talking to someone who's already paid for the privilege of seeing what's in that magazine? Yeah, completely. Yeah. And the number of you even say, Well, you know, if I do ads on your website, they'll, or anyone's website, in fact, or BoardGameGeek, or anything like that, that will technically be be seen, again, money quotes, by this many people. Yes. But their intention is nothing to do with your affinity with that website, people? You know, it's not it's not given the same, the same traction, it is it does remain effective. I will say, I think online advertising does remain effective in some ways. But I think in terms of magazine itself, you know, just having this bought, literally bought in audience does make it a viable long term platform. And it's, it's proven to be so far, you know, even through COVID, we put we still put out 100 pages of magazine every month, you know, even when games were popping on outside China in big container ships. Yeah, you know, we we still did it, because not only because, you know, it's it's a lifeline to people, it's an important thing to do. It was important not to shut down. Yeah, it's very important. Because we are, as I think we were a lifeline to some people, and just a way for people to still enjoy their hobby. Yeah. Also, just like the gaming world still existed. And we didn't want to ignore it. Even. Its it, they were some of the most quite strange issues. I will say. We did have like retro reviews and stuff like that, which is actually really nice chance to talk about the games,
something again. So you think that in terms of where you see the future of this is that it could just be that it will, it might gradually transform into different mediums as they arrive. But it continues, the magazine continues looking like really print magazine at the beating heart with actually the sort of satellite of different things around that are taking on more or greater importance as time goes by.
Absolutely. Yeah. So you could you there will be there will be a point where there's more people watching our YouTube channel, then subscribe to the magazine. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Don't mean and that that's, yeah, that's perfectly fine. Because but the thing is, they're not equivalent. And, and the way you know, the way we put out 100 pages of the magazine every month means that the content we're creating is pretty huge considering the size of our team that is towards him. In house. There's only two people and then obviously all of our lovely loving freelances. It's just a way of us finding where are places in that world. Yeah. And beyond that to be on the magazine. And hopefully it's in the nice contemplative world of talking about games like this for a little bit.
and more Twitch streams and stuff like that, because I really liked doing this Twitch stream, right? Yeah, but he can't always find the time. But Bs is trying to do a few at the moment. We're trying to do a few good things, a few things well, which is more video more podcasts
make sense? Makes a lot of sense. Well, I mean, that's something you know another time, I'd love to talk about in more detail. Oh, God, that question about the future of media is one that is close to my heart, and I think is really interesting to spend some more time on. So before we wrap up, I have got one question that I think hopefully lots of art, or publishing audience be interested in? Which is this, I'd like to know what your top three tips are for a publisher looking to get the attention of the media for their game?
To do that, and do you mean publisher of board games? Yes, publisher board games, political games,
tabletop miniatures, games, war games, anything in that anything in that kind of broad categories?
The best thing to do, because the people you're going to be talking to probably people like me, if you just want coverage, you just want to you just want someone to see it, the best thing to do is send a physical copy of whatever it is to that person. Talk to them. There is I feel a lot of shy people in this industry. Yeah, I like I, I read every email if even if I don't get a chance to get back to you. I read every email. I'm like Santa like that. Just not the not the working home got as well. So it's Yeah, I think I think, you know, this industry, like any industry, when you're talking to the media is a contact sport. So stay in content, you know, that's, that's, that's ultimately the thing. And then just being really useful with things like, here's a load of really useful high quality assets that you can actually print. I think being just being upfront, VT organised. And just, that's not that I don't work with anyone who's not organised to be honest. So I've never really encountered that problem. But there's, there's levels of, hey, here's our Dropbox, we, we upload all our new assets into it for media as we go. Add it to your Dropbox. Yeah, that's, that's like, well, you are. You're my, you're my favourite, because it means that I don't have to find emails of you asking talking to you about dpi.
I was gonna say, say this right now we're talking 300 dpi, 300 dpi, for 300 dpi, high quality product imagery. Specifically, what
it should be 72 for screens? Absolutely fine. You can put pretty much anything on the screen. Yeah, it will do
multiple versions in the same folder. I mean, we once we get to this detail, right, because people will be interested in hearing about this and hopefully a good shortcut your job in the future as well.
It works with if anyone works with Ross Connell of Morgan's pieces I believe you did for Magnus.
Yes, he did. Phenomenal product. Yeah. Absolutely incredible. Those photos.
I think so. Great. I mean, I aside from just hire Ross. The advice is to do what he does, which is you get your nice cut out product shots, which you can use absolutely everywhere, including with the review in our magazine. But then also, when you're doing an interview with us, we might want some sexy ones as well. So Ross will do some sweeping, half fade in, fade out what's called tilt, tilt focus. Is that right? Yeah, something like that. He'll do some very clever things. And have those in a separate folder called artistic shots or something like that, which I do see quite a lot now, which I really like just the the option of me being able to go through. Okay, his because, as I say, again, for us, we're a commercial magazine, we need to as much as I say we we don't need, we don't necessarily need to always talk about what's in the box, we do have a section with every review, which tells you what's in the box. Because it's an important piece of yes, we want to see and I say and I say that's a massive minis of this. You do just want to see like, your regulation size, wooden cubes next to a massive Mini, even if it's in the generalised production. Really?
That's the thing. Yeah, completely.
So that's, that's in terms of, once you once you've got through, let's say, but most people in the industry if, if they're like me, are driven entirely by novelty. Tell me what your game is. I want to have a look. Anyway. If you can spare the review copies, absolutely send them and that's all that's all it needs to be. If there's if you're a publisher, and you have available designers who might want to talk let me know. Because there's, there's there's some some publishers will come to me and say hey, you know, I've got I've got the brand's they'd like to have a chat about the new exit puzzle game. And, and that's, that's cool. And that's that's pretty good and really useful because it gets me straight to the meat of it which is We can just we can just talk straightaway. Whereas other times I'm chasing through a couple of channels. Because actually the game wasn't was because the designer is actually in Eastern Europe or they're in America or something like that. It's actually the people I'm talking to about this distribution of this game, which is one I can cover because it's available in the UK, people I'm talking to you, they're actually just Just be sure the second or third publisher of the game. And actually, they have to bounce back through a couple of people saying, well, of course, this is one of the most open industries in the world as well. So, and I feel like the difference between talking to very Nicosia or Eric Lang or yourself, or, or Andre games on divorce any of these people, there is literally no difference between at all because everyone's just very nice. Yeah, yeah. And everyone's just like, excellent. another excuse to talk about games. Yeah,
exactly, too. Damn. Right. Fantastic. Oh, that's very useful. I think that that should be great advice, I think, for anyone who's interested in getting in kind of coverage. And so then, to wrap up, so anything we should be on the lookout for tabletop gaming magazine sometime soon. Bearing in mind, I know you don't know exactly when this episode is gonna
say, when does this episode come out? So I will just dive in. Regardless, at the end of March, if this episode has not come out yet, we're doing a spring showcase, which is a bit like on virtual VirtuAl Show of last year, which we do. And so which you were part of last year, you did a panel on building games with as Gil, and we are doing a spring showcase. And it's all just announcements, people chatting showing off the new games and sort of playtesting but not necessarily. So if you've got a Tabletop Simulator version of your game available anywhere, or on other simulator platforms, where we can make space for you to just say, hey, here is over that weekend, we've got announcements from people like free League, we've got a really interesting and this is a bit niche game genic. Who make cards, card sleeves and stuff like that you might realise in terms of the product, end of things. Exactly. They make some really nice boxes, and they've got some they showed they showed off some like totally new stuff that never seen yet. So that might be actually interestingly for you personally, like Yeah, because they are basically magic boxes, as far as I can tell. And then we've got playthroughs of games like macro modes, played a bit frustrating design with Isaak. So we really reveal a few monsters there. And then you watch. You watch me be sort of like vaguely Alpha gamed by him, because obviously he made the game he knows what's the best thing to do is pretty good at it. And that's it. Yeah, it's your way. He's pretty good at prostate. Yeah. So that's all going on, on the 27th 28th of March, the Saturday and Sunday there. And it's all pre recorded, you can just turn up, we'll be tweeting about stuff that's going to live throughout the day. But you don't have like anyone who's involved that doesn't actually have to work on that weekend, unless they really want to. The only people that are working that weekend will be us. And that means that there'll be a nice as a buzz, we've got so many people turning up to the website to enjoy this special show last time. So that's the next exciting thing to come from us. And then there's loads of other video stuff coming from us as well. We've We've got just more explorations of games like and things like that. So come join us on on YouTube, their tabletop gaming mag on that one.
Fantastic. Yeah. And if people want to follow you, I guess they can they can find the magazine quite easily on Twitter, take a magazine or get into Google, the links are gonna come up. But if they want to kind of follow you personally, or do you have a personal Twitter account, which you tend to yes, you're
more than welcome to follow me. And my retweets of bits of poetry and like, and strange articles and things that I buy other sort of pastors, I used to run a literary newsletter, which I was recently skewered by an interview I did with Ben Maddux of five days for doomsday five game five games for doomsday sorry, yeah. All that must have had a massive reach. And he was he wasn't wrong. So that's at CJ, I get to see JEWG Double T, if you want to follow me on Twitter there. I like seeing that number go up. But despite everything I said before, I'd like to see in the data points.
That's why it works. We love those graphs, those graphs with the steep learning curve. That's what yeah, that's it. And on that note, thank you so much again, for joining me. This has been a real pleasure. This has been absolutely brilliant. And I hope you will come back again because there was so many things on my list that we left off in terms of discussion Yeah, please come back again.
Absolutely any time, as you know. And thank you for having me. I don't get to say that very much. So I was about to say, thank you for joining me, but that's not right. That's yours. That's your life
producing fun is produced by Naylor games. If you enjoyed the show, follow us on Spotify, Stitcher or other major podcasting platforms. Remember, producing fun is also a product, and it thrives on feedback. So please leave a review wherever possible, to simply send me your feedback directly. You can message me on Twitter at Naylor James or write me an email James@games.com. Until next time,