Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why There Aren't More Good Mormon Games, Part 2

10:16 PM by Mike ·
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Here is the second part to Mark Hansen's discussion of why we don't have good LDS-themed games.
Mormon gaming suffers from some of the same ailments that plague other LDS oriented arts, like music, literature, visual arts, and even performing arts.  These are:

A Small and Mostly Unaware Audience
Most of the world is not Mormon.  Yet.  I know, I know, we're working on that.  Still, we haven't gotten there as of this writing.  

Of that small part of the world that is Mormon, the percentage that speaks english (the language that most of our stuff is currently published in) is steadily shrinking.  Of the English speaking Mormons, how many of them are aware that Mormon games even currently exist?  And, of that percentage, how many can and actually want to buy one and play it?

I'm convinced that this audience is gradually becoming more and more sophisticated in their gaming tastes, because more and more of them are buying more and more intriguing games.  Eurogames, for example (, once only for a more intense gamer crowd, are becoming more and more mainstream in America. That means that LDS games have to step up to the plate as well, and (pun intended) compete.

Relatively Few Game Publishers in the LDS World
Since the audience is inherently small, Mormon publishers are cautious in entry.  There are, however notable examples when they've kicked in:  "Feast or Famine", "Warriors of the Promised Land", "Hagoth".

Games can be more expensive to produce than books, and don't usually sell as well, so it's a bigger risk for a publisher to invest in one.  And, since fewer publishers handle games, they don't seem to be as confident marketing them as well.

Game Designing Ain't Easy
Even though there are a handful of LDS artists, writers, and musicians that are pros, I don't know of anyone who makes a full-time living designing games for the LDS market.  And the time it can take to hatch an idea and take it through multiple cycles of prototyping and playtesting can sometimes stretch into years.  All done as a labor of creative love, before the publisher even hears an intial pitch.

In spite of all this, I am ever optimistic.  I've seen good games be concieved, prototyped, tested, and published.  It can be done, and it is being done!

Mark Hansen


Nathan said...
April 22, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I submitted a board game once to Covenant Communications. One thing the guy told me is that, because the market is so small, it's risky to make expensive games. For that reason, most LDS game publishers are currently making card games instead of board games. That's because with card games, the cost of printing on thick paper and cutting is cheaper, and there are many manufacturers that have the technology to mass produce cards at very good rates. In contrast, board games are made of more expensive material (thick boars, plastic or wood pieces, organizing trays) that usually have to be custom shaped and cut.

That was a very interesting and useful bit of advice to hear. Unfortunately, I think board/tabletop games are usually more fun and have a greater potential for variety.

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