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How Kickstarter Reinvented Tabletop Gaming

How Kickstarter Reinvented Tabletop Gaming

When I was in high school, my favorite English teacher told us that he had a great idea for a tabletop game. He explained the rules to us, getting more excited as he got further and further into his game. It was like watching Ben Wyatt explain the Cones of Dunshire on Parks and Rec for the first time. It was obvious my teacher was stoked about his game, and there were even several members of my class who expressed excitement about playing once he had a prototype. However, it didn’t matter how cool my teacher’s game sounded — he hadn’t a clue as to how to make his game a reality and get it in stores.

“I guess I’ll try to get a patent one of these days,” he said with a shrug.

We all nodded and smiled, trying to think of how a person actually went about making a new tabletop game without having the last name of Hasbro. None of us had any idea, but we all hoped our English teacher would figure it out.

This was the plight for many game developers for quite a long time. Without a powerful corporation to back you up, how exactly could you make your idea for the next big tabletop game into a reality? And what constituted a “big” tabletop game, anyway? The sad answer was that for most game designers, there weren’t many avenues to help promote and sell new games.

Thankfully, Kickstarter has totally changed that.


Crowdfunding has revolutionized several different industries, allowing creators to finally get access to funds they could never imagine on their own, but it’s had a dramatic impact on tabletop in particular. Using the power of the interwebz, people with tabletop game designing dreams actually have a place they can go to explain the game, spell out the costs, and get actual people to back their project. Even better, by not having to pitch the game to a major corporation, the designer gets to keep creative control of their project, allowing the actual game the designer dreamed up to become a reality rather than a malformed interpretation of it.

The tabletop industry is evolving right now. Because of Kickstarter and the crowdfunding movement, we get to see new games come to life every day, and with the rise of shows like (cough cough) Geek & Sundry’s own Tabletop, more and more people are discovering tabletop gaming and falling in love with it. So much so that some game stores and game distributors have had a hard time keeping up with the newfound interest more and more people have in tabletop. The man who runs my local game shop even told me that he’s noticed a significant spike in sales of games that were featured on Tabletop, and that he not only had trouble keeping those games in stock, but the distributors were often scrambling to keep up with the sudden rush of new customers. Which was, consequently, why it took me MONTHS to get myself a copy of Betrayal at House on the Hill. *grumbles* 

The biggest thing outlets like Kickstarter and Tabletop are doing is bringing tabletop gaming directly into people’s homes. Whether you’re a long-time tabletop player looking to discover a new game, or someone who’s heard that tabletop is fun, but are too intimidated to get started, you can find a TON of resources about tabletop from the comfort of your own home. (Bless you, Internet.) You can interact with game designers online by backing their project financially, and  even getting the chance to reach out and talk with the designers online. You can watch Wil Wheaton as your intrepid guide into the world of new and old tabletop games — even some that you can go and promote on Kickstarter.

By its very nature, tabletop gaming is old-school. You don’t need a console to play, and as long as you have some daylight, you don’t even really need electricity. However, game designers have been able to harness modern technology like webshows and crowd-funding websites — even turning some of their games into apps — breathing new life into tabletop as a genre. More people can learn about new tabletop games, actually see them played, and start supporting a game from the “ground floor” to help it become a reality. Ultimately, the fun of tabletop is the community it creates, and with Kickstarter and Tabletop helping to create a larger community, we’re seeing the industry evolve and grow more rapidly than it ever has before.

How have you seen Kickstarter and shows like Tabletop change the tabletop industry? Do you think its a good thing or a bad thing? What changes would you like to see in the tabletop community? Let’s talk about it in the comments! 

Image Source: Tabletop/

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