Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Salesman Against Unbridled Consumerism

The title of this post sounds contradictory, I know. But lately I've been feeling the contradiction as I've tried to sell my own game ideas to publishers, while at the same time, trying to cut back on my own tendencies towards consuming and accumulating stuff.

Maybe it's the whole Occupy... thing that is making me feel like an activist (although that is not necessarily the type of protest movement I would join, as it does not seem to have any clear direction). Or, perhaps, it's the proposed origins of the burgeoning boardgame market in the German protest movements of the 70's and 80's, as I wrote about earlier.  Now, Germany is the epicenter of the worldwide (albeit somewhat underground) gaming movement, and arguably the main reason that there are so many other boardgame publishers in other countries today. It's almost as ironic as George Lucas starting out as the most successful independent film maker of all time, only to become the very kind of corporation he had once loathed--not to mention becoming the catalyst for the current, soulless, Hollywood blockbuster mentality.

In the boardgame industry, publishers are currently flooding the market with many games that are increasingly similar. On one hand, it is a golden opportunity for beginning game designers, as the number of publishers to which they can pitch their ideas has multiplied. On the other hand, though, once a game is published, it is so much more quickly forgotten, and I've seen this even happen to the more innovative releases.

But what I am much more concerned about is avoiding a more personal dichotomy.

On one hand, I'm a salesman. Selling game ideas, selling games.

If you are a publisher and you like my games, offer me fair contracts and support my games for a reasonable time when they go to market, and I'll gladly work with you. If you are a gamer and you like my games, buy them for your game groups' library. If you play them often with your friends, buy copies for yourself too.

On the other hand, if you have too many unplayed games, and mine will join them as part of a "collection", gathering dust, or if you just don't have the money and are going to add the purchase to your credit card debt, please don't.

And if you aren't investing your money and time to help those in need, then please reconsider your priorities.  I have to reconsider mine repeatedly, as I often fall short of my own good intentions.

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to combine our interests with our duty as human beings: donating board games to local youth clubs, retirement homes, alcoholic recovery cafes and homeless shelters, and, more importantly, donating the time to lead gaming groups there and teach them some games.

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