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I invented a pencil and paper game that'd be interesting to people who like Hex, Go, etc.

Since there's really nothing I can sell, nor any sort of special pieces, cards, boards, etc needed for it (being a P&P game), how can I publish it in some way to get it "out there"? I'm not really trying to make any money off it anyway.

Edit: If anyone has anything to add about the publicity aspect of this, I would like to know about that too.

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    Are you wanting to create a game where people make all the pieces themselves (including drawing grids, shapes, etc) or a "print and play" game where they print off a PDF of pieces and then cut them up? The publicity aspect may be slightly different depending on the answer. – Thunderforge Jan 22 '17 at 15:44
  • Hi, the game just needs graph paper and two different pencils, markers, pens or such to be played. It's a two player abstract strategy game. – Eriek Jan 22 '17 at 15:58
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    Do you have a website or a blog? The easiest way would be to publish the rules and examples on your own site, then link to that site in forum posts on related sites, eg: www.littlegolem.net – JonathanJ Jan 22 '17 at 22:52
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    Thanks for the help everyone, I created a website for my game here: hexandoct.000webhostapp.com ! It still needs some polish, but all the content is there. – Eriek Feb 11 '17 at 19:49
  • When I get to website mentioned in comments - the question is: are you sure you invented this game? Except that mystic rule that I even could not understand about player 2 becoming player 1 everything else stays same way as we played this game between lessons and in the lessons with our classmates about 30 years ago. I never new who is author of game, I even don't remember who did teach me back then, but I very doubt that you are the author of game, or you are just reinventing wheel by adding player switch rule - the only difference I find. – Drako May 23 '17 at 12:03
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If your game doesn't need any materials (or those would be more easily to come by on their own, such as graph paper), I would suppose the elements of your game you're trying to ship would be the rules. Since you're not trying to distribute them commercially, the only real problem is to get it out there.

If I'm correct so far, here's what I'd do:

Pick a Licence

An important part for both you, as well as players of your game, is the licence you intend to release it under. A licence determines what you intend to do, and what people may do with it - for example, whether they may redistribute it, and whether they need to give credit to you.

If you're willing to allow remixing and redistribution, there are a number of tested licences available for choosing, and the GNU project provides some recommendations about what you choices. They are rather software-oriented, so you might want to have a look at the Creative Commons licenses as well, which work for every type of work, or specific game licenses such as the OGL (Open Game Licence).

This is an important step, seeing as some licences aren't revokeable, and depending how popular your game gets, you'll be on stable ground legal-wise. Even for smaller games, this step is worth reading into for a little bit. Of course, until you decide on a licence, your country of origin's default copyright laws will apply, but a licence will still be helpful with attribution of the original author, for example if you end up hosting it on some friend's webspace.

Launch a Web Page

The easiest, probably cheapest way would be to set up a webpage from where people would be able to download a version of your game, and possibly get additional information about it, such as errata or update information, and maybe even a discussion forum. This has a few advantages over any print-reliant method:

  • you will be able to publish new versions with no delay at all, and players will know where to get the latest version of the game
  • you save the costs of printing copies of your rules on paper, as well as shipping costs and effort for the finished products
  • you maybe want a webpage anyway at some point in order to advertise your game
  • even without a monetary interest and a free game, you can provide information on how to donate money towards you or the project easily
  • aside from providing written rules, you could provide videos or other media that won't work on print

Making a web page dedicated to your game (as opposed to a blog post in your [insert your probably unrelated topic here] blog) would likely be preferrable, as it will not only appear more serious, but also give you the possibility to adjust the features and layout of the page to your liking.

If you don't have any experience in making web pages, you could rely on one of many web services that offer free blogs and a user interface that doesn't require HTML or programming skills, or find a friend or person online to put one up for you. There are too many possibilities to name them all, and more specialized communities at that.
Of course, asking a professional web designer would be a possibility if you're willing to spend the money.

Advertise your Web Page

Once you have your web page up and running, you probably want people to find it. I won't be getting into much detail here since it's not directly a part of your question, but advertising it on social media, your local game stores, local and online playgroups that play similar games (as you mentioned Go), general online game communities, and friends are general good starting points in my experience.

  • Thank you! Can you go further into detail about the "advertising" part of it, if you had anything more to add, that you left out? I know I didn't directly ask about it, but I really want to know what you know about it. – Eriek Jan 23 '17 at 0:09
  • @Eriek: I don't have a whole lot of experience on the matter, and what little I've done I can't gauge in terms of efficiency or practicability. You could always edit your question to ask for that part explicitly as well and hope for some more answers, though. What I tried to give in my answer are pointers as to what you can do without a budget, which is what I've done. Once you're willing to put down some more money, it probably makes sense to consult professionals about what to do specifically. – TheThirdMan Jan 23 '17 at 0:23
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  • If the game is mathematically interesting, like Hex or Sprouts, I'd reach out to mathematicians and recreational mathematical journals and publications.

This question on Stack Academia has some good suggestions: Where to publish (recreational) mathematics without a PhD?

  • If the game is really simple, reach out to kids magazines

They're always looking for fresh content!


Note that the first modern Sudoku puzzle was originally published in Dell Magazines in 1979, but it was another 25 years before it achieved widespread, international adoption. (Important to note that mass adoption was driven by an entrepreneur who recognized how to monetize it.)

By contrast, Sprouts is said to have spread like wildfire among math departments (it was created by Conway) but seems to be still relatively unknown.

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You can create an entry/page for your game on BoardGameGeek and upload your rule book to the site. Once (if) the moderators accept your entry, your game will be "published".

And because a lot of board game players go to BGG, you are likely to get some traffic to your game entry if all you do is talk about it in different forums.

If you want to spend money publicizing your game, BGG also has on site paid advertising. That is a focused and targeted audience, so your money is well spent.

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    Board Game Geek is not a publishing site and is more of an online game resource. Sure you can add in games you yourself have designed but that is not really publishing the game. Not to mention you talk about making money off the game but make no mention of licensing the game which is something that is critical even if it is being set up that anyone can use it for free. – Joe W Jul 28 '17 at 23:16
  • Under no circumstances should the author of this question pay any money to publicize this game, especially on BGG> – The Chaz 2.0 Jul 31 '17 at 4:29
  • @JoeW maybe you should read the question before down voting an answer... The question clearly states " I'm not really trying to make any money off it anyway." All they want is to get the game out there, and with the need as specified in the question, BGG is more than adequate to get the game "out there" as is the stated goal of the question. – ElToroTheDeep Aug 1 '17 at 5:24
  • @TheChaz2.0: I have not recommended that they go spend money on BGG, but clearly stated that "if they want to spend money publicizing the game", then BGG is a captive and targeted audience. Given that the stated goal is not to make money, then spending money is not wise, but that is a choice for the designer. – ElToroTheDeep Aug 1 '17 at 5:27
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    My point that BGG is not a game publishing site still stands. Just because you submit a game to them and they chose to add it to their site does not mean that it is published. Not to mention that you have ignored all concern about license and copyright issues as even if your game is free for anyone to use you still need to ensure it it properly licensed. – Joe W Aug 1 '17 at 9:37

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