After 12 years spent developing Board Game Arena first as a hobby, then as a full time job, today the time has come for me to become just a regular player with standard dice rolls
What a time it has been! When I joined Sourisdudesert in 2010 to found this website, I was very far from imagining that it would become what it is today, gathering such a large and diverse community of board games enthusiasts from the whole world.
I am proud to have taken part in bringing this project to maturity, and I am really happy to hand it down to a passionate and competent team. I'm completely confident that they will continue to grow this service towards its full potential, allowing the community to thrive around our shared love for board games, first because they are passionate board gamers themselves, and second because this handing down is purely symbolic: they have actually been running the site for a while now, and they are doing an awesome job.
Looking to the past, what have I learned?
- Do not wait to be perfect before starting something. Feedback is key to improve and grow.
- Whatever you do, you will meet criticism. Some of it will be harsh. You may think you are ready, but you are not. Don't take it personally, and bother only with constructive criticism. If some criticism is not useful, don't bother about it: when someone is ranting, it's about them, not you.
- If you do something that has value, people will use it. That's the best measurement of success you can look for. People who are happy with what you create won't necessarily say so, but they will use it, and it's the best compliment there is.
- If you allow people to contribute to something they love, they will. Opening up BGA to contributions from the community has not been easy or obvious, but allowed it to grow into so much more than what could have been done with a closed ecosystem.
- Things can change really quickly, and you never know what can happen. Early 2020, after ten years, about 180 games had been released on BGA with a core team of two people. Only two years later, close to 600 games are now available, more than 100 are in alpha being polished in preparation for their time to shine, and the core team managing the website has grown up to 10 people. We were not ready for that of course. In the Spring of 2020 we got really close to burnout while scaling up the service so that people could continue playing during these exceptional circumstances. We were not ready, but we somehow managed, and the support and love we got in return from the community has been incredible.
Along the years, it has been a privilege to meet so many passionate people - publishers, designers, illustrators, software developers, translators, community moderators, alpha game reviewers, tutorial makers, and of course players - and to enable them to share their passion online, especially when distance or circumstances would not allow them the joy to meet around a physical table.
I would also like to tip my hat at Sourisdudesert, who has been the driving force and the relentless motivation for this adventure. Board Game Arena wouldn't have been born without his entrepreneurial spirit, wouldn't have stayed afloat without his willingness to deal with the dreaded chore of accounting, and maybe more than anything else, his talent for April fool's jokes hitting the sweet spot of fun verging on the almost credible never ceased to amaze me
Looking to the future, what's next?
Before switching jobs in 2010 and at about the same time starting BGA on the side as a hobby, I had been thinking about taking a sabbatical year. 2023 seems to be a good opportunity to catch up on this intention of taking a career break. I plan to use this time first to visit family and friends, then to travel and study some foreign languages. One of the aspects of BGA I definitely enjoyed the most was its international dimension, connecting people, languages and cultures together.
And of course, I'll still be around playing some of my favourite games, and discovering new ones! I'm also impatient to see the new features and improvements currently in the works get rolled out for everyone to enjoy.
I wish you all good games. Play fair, have fun, and don't begrudge your opponents their lucky rolls!
Disclaimer: this post has been certified as created by a genuine organic human brain. No artificial intelligence has been harmed during its writing.