Sep 252016
 
I was recently interviewed by Anton Hill of the YouTube gaming chat show ... We talk about lots of things, including my board game Playing Gods... You can listen HERE.  BoardVert copy   You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Oct 302013
 
My investigation into what is considered the best case for crop circles appears as the cover article in this month's issue of Fortean Times magazine. You can get a copy at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere, get it before it's sold out! images
May 162013
 
It's about time to give everyone a glimpse of a top-secret project I've been working on: a monstery new board game called Undead Apocalypse! You can check out the spiffy site HERE, stay tuned for more details!  
Dec 052008
 
The gods seem to be smiling, at least for the time being. Orders for games are coming in at the rate of a few a day; I'm doing my best to give excellent customer service. I usually get orders out within a day or two. Sometimes I've got a game boxed and shipped off within 2 or 3 hours. The work doesn't stop, it seems steady. One unintended consequence is the e-mails; again, I do my best to respond to customers right away if they have questions on ordering. A few have e-mailed or called, asking about their order status. I try to be polite as I point out that the Web site states very clearly that orders may take 2 to 3 weeks for delivery-- SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU ASKING ME WHERE YOUR GAME IS, AFTER ONE WEEK? It's on its way, don't sweat it, no one's ripping you off and I'm by far the most conscientious person you could buy from.

Read in the paper yesterday that the CEOs of the Big Three automakers went up to Congress, asking for a bailout loan of billions of taxpayer dollars. After having driven their companies into the toilet with poor decisions and planning, a few have graciously offered to work for one dollar salary next year, if the money is approved. I'm sure the tens of millions of dollars they got over the past few years will tide them over, but it made me think about me as a small business guy. What am I making on this board game?, I stopped to wonder one recent night as I boxed up games on my kitchen table at ten past midnight.

By my count, I'm putting in about four hours of work a day on average on my game. That's taking orders, filling orders, buying boxes, e-mailing press and distributors, designing flyers, arranging ads, filling out Customs forms, driving into town to pick up more sets of Limited Edition figures, driving to and from the Post Office and FedEx, to and from the storage place, writing blogs now and then(!), and so on. Four hours may not seem like much, but that's in addition to my regular work. We're talking nights and weekends, and seven days a week, not five. That's about 30 hours each week, hours when regular people are watching their favorite TV shows, going out with friends, cracking open a book, or surfing the Web for midget porn, whatever. I'm explaining, not complaining.

But the question becomes, for what? The answer is, literally, for nothing. I have not earned a penny from the game; every cent that comes in goes into the company to pay for shipping charges, ads, bank fees, etc. I, personally, have yet to see a penny of profit; I just hope to earn enough to pay back the people who graciously loaned me money for the game. Last time I ran the numbers I figured I might break even some time late in 2009; unless the game really takes off (and it might), I probably won't earn more than a few thousand dollars in profit until 2010 or so.

Okay, do the math with me for a second. Let's say that by 2010 I earn $5,000. Not bad, eh? Five grand is a nice wad of greenbacks. Except that by then, if the game keeps taking up the same amount of my time (and it may or may not), I'll have worked about 1,800 hours to earn that $5,000. That comes to $2.75 per hour, a wage that a Mexican Chicklet street peddler would sneer at. (I'm not even including the nine months of pre-production work on the game, or the years of development. That would just depress me.)

So I have to laugh when I see some of my critics suggest that I'm exploiting religion to get rich. I'm doing neither. This game is a labor of love, something that started as an idea, and that I somehow found the perseverance to see through. Playing Gods, like most things I do, from writing books to solving mysteries, is not a money-making scheme, it's a personal achievement, and no one can take that away from me. It is immensely satisfying to see people getting pleasure, laughter, and enjoyment out of something I did.

I'm glad that the head of Ford Motors can work for a dollar a year salary, but I've almost got him beat. Lots of people can drive a company into bankruptcy, but not everyone can create the world's first satirical game of religious warfare.


COMING IN THE NEXT BLOG: Rule changes! A nice plug from a Simpsons producer! And Playing Gods teams with the Church of the SubGenius!
Nov 072008
 
Friday November 7, 2008

My tradition of late blog entries continues! At least I'm consistent!

I've been getting orders from all over the world: South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, and of course England. Got one from Wales, or at least I think it was Wales, the place names were in the U.K. and had all sorts of consonants and very few vowels. I keep hoping / expecting to get an order from the Vatican. How cool would that be to get a photo of the Pope at a Playing Gods tournament? I expect he'd be Jesus-- after all, the Bible is quite clear about God's violent nature: "The LORD is a man of WAR," states Exodus 15:3. Who am I to argue?

Oh, and the Rulebook translations are coming along. So far the Portuguese is done (thanks to my Brazilian friend Kentaro Mori), and the German is coming along. Hopefully I'll have downloadable PDFs available on the Web site within the next week or two.

Yes, the games are off, distributors are getting their shipments in. I noticed yesterday that there's now an Amazon.com page for Playing Gods. Whoever created the entry left out the real religious figures (Jesus, Moses, etc.) but that's okay I guess! The pawns that are included in the game actually turned out better than I expected. They are pretty detailed, and made of a fairly flexible plastic. I had no input into the type of plastic, but at least I won't have to worry about them breaking, as I do when shipping the Limited Edition figurines.

I sent a free game to state Senator Ernie Chambers, who made the news this year for his lawsuit against God. Chambers wants God held responsible for the acts of destruction He has caused. Latest news is that the suit was thrown out because God couldn't be served with a summons, having no official home address. Perhaps the Pope could deliver it.

I'm hoping to get some decent holiday sales, despite the recession we're in. To that end, I'm running ads in the L.A. edition of The Onion, as well as classified ads in The Nation. I'm also running a "Recession Special Offer" on my Web site; buy one game, get the second one at half price. The special will run until December.

Oh, and be sure to check out the Playing Gods mini-video featuring everybody's favorite pissed-off spiritual heavyweight, Badass Buddha! We'll have it on the Web page soon, but before it's up, you can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7umA3xfd-ZQ.

By the way, I *think* I finally figured out how to keep the formatting from getting screwy when I post to the blog. Thanks to Dr. Atlantis for his techyhelp.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on Playing Gods goes global!
Aug 182008
 
Good news from Atlanta: it seems that all the packages of pawns arrived. Good news from the board game folks: My 250 games should be arriving in Atlanta any day now. I’m skeptical and I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m cautiously optimistic: “expecting the worst but hoping for the best.” I honestly don’t know if I will have everything together for my big premiere. It’s looking like I’ve done stuff right (at least in terms of preparations and getting things done early), but I have a continuing uneasy fear that I will have forgotten something really important, something I knew about at one point and scribbled on one of my dozens of “To Do” lists, but soon forgot about. So many little things must come together… Along with the good news about the games (allegedly) being in, there was an attached invoice for somewhat over $20,000. I barely have enough to cover that, but I also have about $4,000 in various expenses I need to come up with in the next few weeks. I’m trying not to make too big a deal of it, but Dragon*Con will really make or break it, I’m thinking. My goal is to sell 200 of the 250 games. If I can do that, I’ll come home from Atlanta not only confident that the game has potential, but also able to pay some bills right away. If I can’t sell the games, or if I’m shipping 200 games back home, I’ll… well, I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on So many little things must come together…
Aug 132008
 
Finally got a response back from two foreign game distributors, one in Germany and one on England. (I had previously e-mailed each of them twice before, I guess persistence finally paid off. They want to know what terms I'm offering, and what shipping will be. I know the terms, but had no idea what shipping a case to Europe will cost. Set about finding that out, then interrupted by a reporter from the Kansas City Star, wanting to interview me about a supposed Bigfoot body that was found in Georgia. Gave half-hour interview, then back to work. Arranged for a gaming tournament at a Santa Fe game store called GameCo; basically, I'll provide some promo materials (posters, stickers, etc.) and some prizes (T-shirts, figurines), and in return they do a little publicity and set aside a table for people to play the game for a few hours. Gets people in, becomes an event. Got a call from the ad guy from The Onion, confirming that I'm running the quarter-page ad in the August 21 (back to school) issue of the L.A. edition. I said yes—the one with the Buddha and the chain gun. I promised him an extra-special holiday ad, but I wouldn't tell him what the tagline is. I don't think they will object, but it might be controversial… So far I have 30 pre-orders, I was getting one or two a day for a while there, it seems to have stopped.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on Bigfoot in Georgia? Playing Gods will be!
Aug 122008
 
I e-mailed the game folks asking for an update on the 250 games. The latest info (this shit seems to change by the hour) is that the pawns are being finished and should be on a boat sailing August 24, with an ETA of September 25. That’s 10 days later than last time I asked, but what are you gonna do? The stuff will be ready when they are ready. Actually I saw on the news that China shut down a bunch of polluting factories around Beijing for the Olympics, to help make the air cleaner. I wonder if one of those factories is making my games or pieces… if so, it’s possible that someone who won a gold medal did so with a tiny particle of soot from my plastic Midget Jesus. How cool would that be?

I borrowed dad’s truck and mailed off two final boxes of pawns. My friend in Atlanta wrote that he'd gotten the first two boxes of pawns I sent, and asked, "I hope you've thought about the return trip for some or all of this treasure?" I replied, "Yes, it has occurred to me that I may end up just shipping the boxes back here, but I don't really have a choice. The 250 games are already on their way there (due in the 21st or so, last I heard), and I dunno if I'll sell 5, 10, or 250 games, but in any event, I can't sell the games without the pawns. I might as well have enough pawns to match the games. I'm hoping that the numbers will be on my side: if there are 30,000 people at Dragon*Con, and if just one person out of every hundred buys a game, I'll sell out. Or, hell, I dunno, I could end up a few thousand dollars in the hole. But with a name like Balls Out, I gotta take a risk!" Saw that Russia stopped bombing Georgia, hope Lasha’s okay.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on Dragon*Con, Packing, and is Lasha Okay?
Aug 112008
 
Opened up today’s newspaper to see that Russian tanks are attacking the Republic of Georgia. Lasha, the guy who sculpted the figures for my game, lives in Georgia, I think in the capital of T’bilisi. I e-mailed Jim at Firewheel Casting (who created the Ltd. Ed idols) to see if he’s heard from Lasha, if he’s okay. No word yet. I also realized, with a bit of panic, that I forgot to find and order envelopes or packaging for the Expansion Set. Shit shit shit. I took more boxes of Ltd. Edition idols to mail to Atlanta; all was going well until I tried to jam the 2 foot cubed box in my Toyota. Well, look at that. Won’t quite fit. Exasperated, I left it next to the front door and took the one that would fit, mailed it off. I’ll fill up a second huge box and borrow my dad’s truck to get it there. Thought of a new item for my Balls-Out.net site: “Balls Out knows the exact date that Axl is going to release Chinese Democracy.” Thought it was kinda clever, Blake agreed, so we put it up.
Aug 102008
 
My friend Patty and my next door neighbor came over and helped me pack figurines into boxes for 3 hours. It would have taken me five hours, that’s what friends are for. I’m feeling relieved to finally have the pieces in boxes and ready to go. 17 days until D-Day, gotta get this stuff in transit. Finished reading / skimming Blasphemy (I skipped over 1600 to about 1880), a few interesting nuggets: In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled that profanity is not protected speech (Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire); it seems a Jehovah’s Witness named Chaplinsky called all religion a “racket. ” A cop confronted him, and he called the cop a “God damned racketeer” and a “damned Fascist.” Chaplinsky was convicted because of his profanity, and the Supreme Court upheld it. In 1941, the Supreme Court ruled that an Oklahoma City law that made it unlawful to “reproach or ridicule God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the Christian or any other religion” was indeed constitutional. So much for freedom of speech, goddamn it. Interesting. The book concludes by saying that though blasphemy laws are rarely enforced these days, they are still on the books in many places, and are legally speaking enforceable.
Aug 092008
 
Began reading a book called Blasphemy: Verbal Offenses Against the Sacred, From Moses to Salman Rushdie, by Leonard Levy. It’s been on my shelf for years, but I figured it was time to bone up on it, as it’s possible I’ll be called a blasphemer at some point soon, so I might as well know what I’m being accused of. I won’t bother to summarize it, but I learned a few interesting facts about the history of insulting gods: 1) “For most of history, blasphemers have been devout Christians” --- it’s usually different sects of a religion that consider each others blasphemers; only rarely and recently are non-believers considered blasphemers. 2) Many sacred texts including the Hebrew Bible, declares that blasphemy, like idolatry, cannot be endured; 3) In fact, in strict Jewish tradition, merely saying God’s name is considered blasphemy (hence they use the letters “YHVH” instead).
Aug 042008
 
Good news, good news. Word is that my shipment of 250 games have arrived on US soil in L.A from the literal “slow boat from China.” Still a risk, Customs may decide to do a random inspection and hold up my games for 2 weeks. If so, I’m in deep shit. If not, it may be heading to a train soon, then to Atlanta.
Jul 292008
 
Saw sneak preview of the new Mummy movie; it was okay for a third-generation Indiana Jones clone. I'm still preparing to send 1,200 deluxe (Ltd.Ed.) figurines to Atlanta, and trying to get all the stuff I'll need. I got 250 4X4X6 boxes in bulk from a company called ULine. I decided I should make the packing peanuts go further by also using shredded paper as a cheap but good packing material (the technical word for it is “dunnage,” which just sounds silly to me). Anyway, I went to CostCo and bought a shredder for about $70, I’m probably one of the few people who is more interested in the product of the shredding than the actual shredding (I don’t really have many high-security papers). After a few test runs, I’m a shredding fool, like kid on Christmas morning with a Stomper 4X4 (you guys in your thirties know what I’m talking about). Soon I’m shredding more paper than the Bush White House.

 Playing Gods  Comments Off on A little R&R… Excelsior!
Jul 202008
 
I printed up a bunch of Playing Gods stickers. One says, “My god is badder than your god,” and the other says, “Be your own god.” I was going to enclose one in each game, but then I found out that shipping them to China would cost about $400. When you add in the cost of the stickers themselves, it got too expensive, so I had to abandon that idea. Still, I’ll give them out at conferences and enclose them free with orders I fulfill. I’m hoping they will be interactive, and I’ll encourage people to take photos of where they put (or find) the Playing Gods stickers: bumpers, halls, on the Eiffel Tower, on boobs, etc. I’ll have a place on the PlayingGods Web site (called Olympus) where people can share tips, meet up, and post the photos.




Actually, the idea came from a Web site I stumbled upon for a punk band called Kill Allen Wrench. I have no idea if they’re any good or not, but I dig their marketing style. On their Web site they have a few galleries of photos of their stickers sent in by their fans. Most of them are on, um, skin. Like naked groupie skin. I don’t expect a board game (even an ass-kicking, counterculture one like Playing Gods) to result in lots of softcore photos sent in by hot players hoping to win a prize, but I’m hopeful. And I mean that in a mostly non-sexist, pro-loving-your-body kind of way.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on My God is Badder than Your God!
Jul 152008
 
Somebody in Malta tried to scam me. Here’s how it works: After you register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, your name and address get put on a list. Several lists, actually, and at least one is publicly published in the official USPTO Gazette. Scammers will then put you on a list and try to get you to send them money. This one was postmarked “Luqa, Malta,” and was from something called the IBIP: “International Bureau for Intellectual Property.” For only $1,537.10, I can register my trademark with them. It is of course a bullshit scam--- you don’t need to register anything, it’s already registered with the USPTO---and I’m sure they get some sucker to send them fifteen hundred bucks and ten cents. You’ll also get a few quasi-legit offers from lawyers to represent you in further dealings with the USPTO. The lawyers get your names from the same lists the scammers do. I didn’t need a lawyer, but if you do, go to a local one you trust, not some patent peddling shyster.
Jun 052008
 
Marketing plan meeting with my Principal Investors. Mom and Dad liked the spaghetti with green chile sauce I prepared, and I had answers to all the questions, including my plan to distribute the game. I also decided I'd need to take pre-orders to help raise money for the game before its release. I've got about $2,500 in expenses coming due soon, and if I can get even a few hundred dollars coming in, every bit will help. I called my Web guy, Blake, and asked him to help set it up.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on A Meeting With Important Investors…
Jun 042008
 
I got, overnight, from Hong Kong via Nevada, the sample figures that will serve as the prototypes for the pawns in the game. These are basically made of sculpted hard clay. The Limited Edition idols served as the prototypes. Those are handmade and hand-poured, and have much more detail than could be done in a mass-produced (injection molded) version. These samples were sent to me for approval, and I’m nervous about opening the package because if the samples are wrong, or really screwed up in some way, I’ll be in trouble because any changes will automatically mean a delay of anywhere from a few days to a week or two. I need it done right, but I also need it done on time, as I have made time commitments. It’s a tradeoff I hope I don’t have to make, and at first all seems fine. I look at each piece closely and carefully. They look a lot like the reference originals (Ltd. Edition idols), except that they are thicker/ squatter and they have much less detail. They resemble large, high-quality green Army men. Still, they look pretty good and overall I am impressed.



The only real problem is the generic pedestal pawn (five of the figures are human-like figures, including Jesus, Moses, etc., but the sixth piece is a pedestal with a round blank disc on top, where players can stick on symbols or photos or whatever to make their own gods). The round disc on top is three-quarters of an inch diameter, while the stickers that come with the game are (and always have been) one inch in diameter. They put the wrong size disc on top. My mind races: Can I live with it being too small? More importantly, will it still work in the game? If I send it back to be fixed, will my delivery date get pushed back 6 weeks? Is it worth it, I pondered? (In my head I could almost hear a mouse’s voice asking, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”)

While I weighed this decision, I looked again at the Jesus figure. When I held it in my hand all seemed fine, but when I put them in a row for comparison, I realized I may have a problem. I had a Midget Jesus. (Or, to be PC, a “little people Jesus.”)

The gods need to look big and powerful, and well, godly. Jesus, who is in fact the tallest (and arguably most pissed-off looking) god among the Ltd. Edition figurines, looked kind of small and, well, elf-like or something. He’s mad as hell and got a cross raised above his head, ready to smack some Righteousness into an infidel. Alone the big JC wasn’t bad, but lined up next to the Big Bad Buddha and a Cranky Moses, Jesus looked like the runt of the litter. I gradually figured out what happened: the sculptor had kept the figures all in the same vertical scale. So that meant that the top of Jesus’s raised arms was the same height as, say, Kali’s head. So the sculptor shrunk the entire Jesus figure. All the figures are proportional to each other except Midget Jesus.

I hadn’t really thought of that problem, though in retrospect I guess I could have seen it coming. The Chinese sculptor—I think his name is Lee Ho Fook—didn’t really make an error, so I couldn’t blame him, in fact he probably did the right thing in terms of packaging. I was in no mood to lay blame or hurl accusations of stupidity or incompetence at anyone (myself). Spilled milk, etc. The question was, how bad is it? Will I get angry calls and letters from Christians who are upset that Jesus looks like a jockey? Would those sorts of people even play the game in the first place? Will it look weird?

I realized with a resigned sigh that changing the Jesus would require an entire re-sculpt. I’d have to go back to the artist, have him draw Jesus so that his hands are below his shoulders, then go back to my sculptor, Lasha, and have him do a whole new sculpt, then--- No. I decided I’d have to live with it, at least for the first production run. Maybe I can fix it in the second run. Or, if I get any complaints, I’ll suggest he or she buy the Limited Edition idols, where Jesus is actually taller than the rest of the gods. Midget Jesus or no, the game must go on. So I e-mailed them and gave approval. One mile stone passed. Better than a kidney stone, I guess.
Jun 012008
 
I sent e-mails to Web sites who might want to carry Playing Gods. I got my first official question about the Arab "NotMoe" figure from one of the buyers: “We are interested in your game, but will there be a Muslim figure? We don’t want to offend any Muslims.”

Yeah, I’ll bet you don’t.

I knew this issue would come up sooner or later. Here was my response: "I understand your concern, and I've certainly given the issue much thought. The game is not meant to offend anyone, though sometimes people find satire offensive (note the current flap over the Obama cartoon on the New Yorker cover).

Islam forbids the depiction of either Allah or the prophet Mohammed. To avoid any offense, we have a sticker with a star and crescent that can be affixed to a round disc to symbolize Islam in the game. (Other stickers represent other religions as well.)



Neither Allah nor Mohammed is mentioned anywhere in the game, rules, cards, Web site, or anywhere else. While we do have a generic Arab figure, it is unspecified and ambiguous, with its face covered, and could be anyone from a mullah to a sheikh. I showed the figure to two Muslims, and neither had a problem with it as long as it was not identified as Mohammed, which is certainly is not!"

I don’t know whether that satisfied them or not, I guess I’ll find out when I contact them to see if they want to order…I’m sure some people will be offended, though that’s not really my intention. I am very much aware that there is some danger in putting out this game. It is meant as a humorous satire, and fundamentalists of all stripes are not known for their sense of humor, nor their refined sense of the nuances of satire. I have tried to make the Muslim figure as inoffensive and generic as possible (you should see the designs I rejected!). On the other hand, I see no reason why Muslims should be spared criticism, any more than Christians, Buddhists, Jews, or anyone else.
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on Tuesday July 1, 2008 – NOT MOHAMMED
Apr 012008
 
Welcome to a blog about Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination. It is the world’s first satirical board game of religious warfare. If you don’t know about the game, the best place to check it out is of course the Web site: www.PlayingGods.com. This is more of a behind-the scenes look at the process of inventing a board game, producing it, and marketing it. As I write this, I am only a few weeks away from its World Premiere, a month away from actually getting the game in stock, and about two months away from its official “street date.”

This is my first blog. I have always resisted doing a blog, for several reasons, including: 1) it seems pretentious; many bloggers seem to think that their personal thoughts on the minutiae of life are pure literary gold and must be of interest to others; 2) I don’t really have the time to write or update a blog regularly; and 3) what little time I do have to write should really be spent on writing for money to keep the lights on, instead of for free for my own amusement, or that of a handful of literary voyeurs.

Most of these reasons not to write a blog are quite valid, but it’s also true that I have been asked by several people who are fascinated by the game. They wonder how a regular (or kinda regular) person actually creates and markets a board game more or less by himself. In truth, I have no idea, and in some ways I’m figuring it out as I go along.

One thing that won't really be reflected here is the hours. The board game is done on my own time; I have a part-time job, which leaves me with a little more time than most people have, but that's mostly filled up with writing columns. Working from 8 in the morning until 11 o'clock at night is typical for me, and has been since March 2007 or so. I'm not complaining (nor bragging) about the 14 or 15 hours days, just being honest about the time commitment in case you're wondering. I am doing this basically by myself; I have gotten help from various wonderful people (especially regarding the Web site and graphics work) and supporters, for which I am very grateful, but I am the only one who deals with marketing, starting a small business, distribution, creating ads, flyers, tournaments, orders, e-mails, Paypal issues, Web questions, setting terms, mailing flyers, and so on. I'm risking my parent's money (and much of my own) and I'm determined to do all I can to make the game succeed, or at least break even.

To be honest, I never really wanted to be a businessman. Some people get a massive hard-on over business and negotiation and the art of the deal; I don't. I can do it, and am doing it, but I consider myself more of an inventor. It gradually dawns on me that the reality of the situation is that it's my game, and if I don't do it, no one else will. I don't have the money to hire someone else to do it, and it's clear that Parker Brothers and Hasbro won't be offering to buy me out. Fair enough.

So here it is… I’m not quite sure what people may find interesting or useful, but I hope this may provide some insights. Feel free to drop me a line or offer feedback.

This is very much a work in progress. I’ve never done this before, and though I believe in my idea and the game, I don’t know how it will be received. Some people love it, others will refuse to play it on principle. I could be successful, or I could wind up deep in debt, with a storage space full of thousands of unsold games. I might get death threats, and/or people might get the satire. I don’t know, but I’ll keep you updated as I can.

What Has Come Before (The background)

I sent out letters with my business plan to friends, family, and other potential investors. I had done a lot of research on board games and the industry and costs and target audiences, and I was asking folks for anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to help cover my expected expenses of about $50,000. I don't have anywhere near that kind of money, and was hoping that friends of the family might be willing to loan me (at reasonable interest rate) some money to help my dreams take flight. I included color flyers, little figurines, and everything. I wasn't expecting much, and that's what I got. In the end, I didn't get a dime from anyone other than my parents and one Christian friend (thanks JCat!). I had already spent about $10,000 over the years on graphics, artists, prototypes, and so on, and borrowed about $40,000 from my parents.

After much anguish and searching, and many stops and starts, I found a fairly reputable game manufacturer. (They are really a middleman between me and a Chinese printer and manufacturer.) That in and of itself was a fucking nightmare; one game manufacturer actually lost my prototype, and didn't own up to it for weeks and months, ignoring e-mails and calls.

Anyway.

I decided that the game’s World Premiere will be at this huge event called Dragon*Con, in Atlanta. I was a guest presenter there last year, and will be returning this year as well. It's got 35,000 people, from Goths to nerds to B-list celebrities to fantasy and sci-fi authors. Oh, and a whole Gaming track. I figure that this is a crowd that would dig Playing Gods, and not be offended at all. I had originally been told (and therefore expected) that I'd have the games in time, as the typical production run is 3 months including shipping. I got contradictory answers about whether the games would or would not be in on time. One day I'm told all should be fine, the games will be in before Dragon*Con (D*C), the next day I'm told, well, what I meant to say is that they might be in a week after that… I have literally gotten three different answers in one week, which makes planning very difficult. I need to know whether I will or will not have any games to sell at my World Premiere; this is not a minor issue.

I won’t go into the tortuous history behind it, but as of July 1 this was the situation: My run of 5,000 board games could NOT be done in time for D*C. But, due to quick thinking and lots of begging, I COULD have the first 250 games pulled off the factory line and shipped directly to Atlanta. These games would be complete—with the very significant exception that they would not have any of the pawns / idols / god figurines. Having 250 games (even without pawns) at the World Premiere is better than having zero games, but this also meant that I had to figure out how to get 250 sets of the pawns to Atlanta on time, so that I’d have complete games to sell. I ended up having 250 sets of the Limited Edition, hand-cast figures made locally. They cost me nearly $3 each, instead of the regular pawns which will be made in China for 20 cents each, and I’d end up paying about $500 to send them to Atlanta. I would end up cutting the profit on my games in half, but at least I’d have 250 games to show and sell at Dragon*Con. Or at least that’s the plan…


Enough of the backstory… I'll pick up my journal / blog entries on July 1:
 Playing Gods  Comments Off on Playing Gods: Curious Adventures in the World of Board Games