Utah Policy Holiday Shoppers Guide: Kickstart Me Up

Yesterday we discussed the board game industry in general, which is seeing a Renaissance of quality and sales despite – or perhaps because of – the oversaturation of digital entertainment available to families these days.


One notable example of how board gamers are leveraging online resources to benefit offline play is Kickstarter, the Nevermind of crowdfunding sites. Kickstarter allows fans to circumvent traditional publishers to financially support aspiring game designers, such as Salt Lake City’s Ryan Laukat.

“I’ve been designing board games since I was 13, and it had always been my dream to get one published,” Laukat said. “In 2009, I started work as a freelance illustrator for board game companies, all the while continuing to design my own games. In 2011, I designed Empires of the Void and posted pictures of the prototype online. The pictures got a ton of attention, and I got emails from people encouraging me to use Kickstarter.com to fund the game and publish it. I’d seen other board games use it, although at the time it wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, and decided to give it a try. I was overwhelmed by the response.”

Laukat has used Kickstarter to successfully fund five games (so far), notably last year’s City of Iron.


“The thing I love most about Kickstarter is that it brings to light so many amazing, creative products that normally might not be produced,” said Laukat. “I suppose it ‘levels the playing field’ because it gives independent creators a chance to produce something that might be turned away from a large company, perhaps because of lack of ‘mass market appeal.’ I like that it gives the community a voice.”

His advice to anyone who wants to Kickstart a game of their own is: “Keep the backers involved throughout the whole process. When someone backs something on Kickstarter, they want to feel like they are a part of a team. As a project creator, honesty, humility, and regular updates are a must.”

Alas Kickstarter forbids any fundraising for political purposes. But perhaps one day Laukat will design a board game about political campaigns …

Utah Policy board game recommendations: