big-business-board-gameEconomy got you down? Laid off? Business in the tanks? Maybe it’s time to turn your hobby in to a career. I won’t kid you—jobs in tabletop games (at least, the salaried kind) are hard to find. But there are a few. Here’s what I’ve been able to turn up:

People Will Wait in Line for Something They Want

People Will Wait in Line for Something They Want

In the games industry preorder systems serve a variety of purposes. For companies producing niche games within a limited market, the opinions of customers voiced through preorders can help direct development efforts to the highest demand products. If payment is required up front, preorders can also help fund production. And preorder systems can be used to reward loyal customers with discounts or other benefits, while at the same time generating buzz for upcoming products. Also whether intentional or not, I’d be remiss in not pointing out that that the ability to preorder a game may result in a few extra sales, as sometimes it’s easier to punch that button for an order when you know that the money you spend may not be charged to your credit card for quite some time (I speak here from experience).

Of course the terms and conditions for preorders vary by program. Here are some examples:   Read the rest of this entry »

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The Business of Games—Trade Shows

Trade shows are different than consumer-focused gaming conventions. At a trade show for example, industry participants have an opportunity to view the latest product offerings, buyers can meet suppliers and manufacturers and discuss orders, and professionals may attend seminars on how to improve their business—all of this without the pressure of fans filling the booth. While fans might love to attend for access to inside information on upcoming releases, typically attendance requires proof of a business relationship to the industry, whether retailer, publisher, distributer, manufacturer, designer, or member of the press. Some of the trade shows either dedicated to the games business or frequented by game companies include:

  • GAMA Trade Show, aka “GTS” (April, Las Vegas)—A show by the Game Manufacturers Association specifically for the hobby games industry. Incorporates both a seminar program and an exhibit hall. Seminars have covered such topics as copyright and trademark law, selling new game designs to publishers, and how to establish a unique identity for your retail store.
  • Australian Toy Hobby and Nursery Fair (March, Melbourne)
  • Licensing International Expo (June, New York City)—An annual marketplace for brands and intellectual property. Not exclusively a show for games, but noteworthy for the industry nevertheless. Licensing the right property can give a significant boost to a game company. This can also be a good venue for licensing game-based IP to other industries.
  • Collocated TGIFcon and ASTRA Annual Marketplace & Academy (June, Mashantucket, Connecticut)—The former gives designers, developers, and inventors the opportunity to meet with publishers and large retail chains. The latter, run by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, includes seminars targeted to retailers and sales reps.
  • TOY FAIR, aka “New York Toy Fair” (February, New York City)—The premier general toy show in North America, with more than 20,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors.
  • Chicago Toy & Game Fair, aka “Chi-Tag” (November)—Before opening to the public for the last two days, Chi-Tag focuses on game inventors and the educational value of games.
  • Protospiel (July, Okemos, Michigan)—A casual gathering of hobby game designers for cooperative playtesting. Also in attendance are a few publishers.
  • Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair, aka “Nuremberg Toy Fair” (February, Nuremberg)—The largest international toy and game trade show with more than 80,000 visitors and 2,700 exhibitors representing more than 120 countries. Of course, much of that isn’t games. And the games that are on display at Nuremberg are often pre-production versions.
  • China Toy Expo (October, Shanghai)—An opportunity to meet with representatives of manufacturing plants.

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The Business of Games—Job Opportunities

Games are my hobby. But I’ll admit to dreaming about making games my career. I daresay that some of you have as well. As the saying goes, do what you love and you’ll love what you do.

Well, believe it or not, it is possible. A survey of game companies reveals a number of available positions. However, it also reveals a number of important facts to consider. Career employment-type positions are rare and are generally concentrated in customer service, marketing, support services such as accounting and information technology, and production. Development jobs, though they are generally found in-house, are rarer still. Design and graphic illustration, however—the type of work you might think about first when you imagine creating games—are more often left to independent contractors or freelancers (which, hopefully, we’ll cover at a later time). Also, don’t expect to find a wealth of opportunities or high-paying positions—Hasbro and Mattel CEO positions being the exception on the latter. Finally, though you may be interested because you enjoy playing games, the companies who are recruiting expect their employees to take the jobs seriously. They are looking for people with specific skills and experience, and in most cases require successful candidates to relocate.

So, if you’re still interested, this is some of what you can find available right now:

  • Steve Jackson Games is looking for a Production Assistant and a Perl Coder.
  • Fantasy Flight Games is recruiting for a Senior Roleplaying Game Developer.
  • Paizo Publishing has opportunities for a Customer Service Representative, Warehouse Personnel, a Software Developer, and a Copy Editor.
  • “Intern” positions are available at Kenzer & Company. From the description, this appears to be warehouse order processing, but it’s unclear whether or not the positions are paid.
  • At Privateer Press there are jobs for Linux Administrator and Packing/Shipping.
  • Positions at Upper Deck include Financial Analyst, Designer (Entertainment), Lead Artist, Associate Game Designer (WOW Miniatures), Senior Software Engineer, Senior Systems Engineer, Technical Support Specialist, Web Designer/Developer, and Director of Direct Response Marketing.
  • In the UK, Games Workshop has positions available in retail sales support and management. In the United States, opportunities include retail, as well as Administrative Assistant, HR Director, and Trade Account Manager.
  • Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, is recruiting for UI Architect, Software Development Manager, Software Developer, Bilingual Graphic Designer, Game Brand Developer (Japan), and Administrative Assistant.
  • The rest of Hasbro is recruiting for 30 open positions, including 5 in accounting/finance, 5 in engineering, and 4 in graphic arts & design.
  • At Mattel, there are opportunities for Interns in Design/Development and career positions as a Senior Marketing Associate, a Senior Security Investigator, and Senior Financial Analyst.
  • Ravensburger is looking for a Press Advisor, Planning Engineer, Product Manager, and Technical Product Developer/Manufacturer (at least that’s how Babel Fish translates it).

Spin Master LogoFor its third-quarter financial results just reported, Spin Master Corp. earned revenue of US$386.8 million, an increase of 31.7 percent over the same quarter of 2014. Product lines that were major contributors include Paw Patrol (which the company expects will represent 20 percent of total sales by the end of the year) and Star Wars. Product launches for Meccanoid, Bunchems, Chubby Puppies, and Little Charmers also helped fuel growth, while the company experienced declines in the Zoomer, Digi Bird, Flutterbye Fairy, and How to Train Your Dragon lines.

Spin Master’s “activities, games & puzzles, and fun furniture” segment grew 25.4 percent, with year-to-date sales totaling $131.2 million. Bunchems, Text Cool, Knit Cool, and Marshmallow furniture were the top performers in this category.

Also factoring in to the company’s strong third quarter was a schedule of earlier deliveries. Due to specific efforts to move product earlier this year, as well as the impact of the port strike last year, Spin Master is shipping about 3 weeks ahead. As a result, the company expects fourth-quarter revenue to be slightly lower, though the overall second-half should still be up.

Reflecting expenses from its recent IPO, the company’s net income in Q3 was down 7.3 percent to $51.1 million (52¢ per share).

Spin Master continues to pursue acquisitions and recently closed on the purchase of Cardinal Industries. That pushed the company in to the number 2 position for U.S. market share in games.

One of the company’s hottest products this season, the Air Hogs Millenium Falcon, is tracking to sell out in early December.

Regarding future products, Spin Master has started work toward a relaunch of Bakugan.

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Business Card Games

The state of business cards that are games, or games to play with business cards, is pathetic.

My advice: play 1000 Blank White Cards (rules).

Update: At the request of Nate Scheidler, Director of Communications for the Chicago Toy and Game Group, I have retracted the post that was originally here and am replacing it with this release from Nate:

In June 2009, Chicago Toy and Game Fair unrolled a test program in which it installed game displays in cooperation with a major airline. Thanks to positive customer feedback, Chicago Toy and Game has now negotiated a nationwide pilot program with this airline in which game and toy displays will be installed at multiple airport club locations nationwide in early 2010.

Game displays are being established to allow customers to enjoy playing board games during flight delays and layovers, without having to worry about the added bulk in their luggage.

Publishers participating in the program are Days of Wonder, Mayfair Games, Rio Grande Games, Buffalo Games, HL Games, and Jumbo Blocks.

Nate Scheidler

PP previously covered this topic here.

Privateer Press recently announced openings for a Resin Caster and a Warehouse Clerk. Both are entry-level, hourly positions in Bellevue, Washington. The company also still has open a job for a full-time Studio Painter.

UK (Norwich) online retailer Zatu Games has several openings, including Marketing Communications PR Intern, Product Administration Apprentice, and Stock Room Assistant. Another, Trainee Buyer, will be responsible for creating purchase orders and managing procurement procedures.

Chess Geeks in Portland, Oregon, which is looking to expand its product line with more traditional strategy games, as well as reach additional retail outlets, is recruiting for a General Manager and a Customer Service Manager.

All Things Equal in Miami Beach is looking for a part-time Graphic Designer with 1-2 years of experience and knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite.

WizKids is recruiting for a Board Game Project Manager in Hillside, New Jersey to manage the process of producing and marketing games. Some project management experience is required but it need not have been with games. The company is most concerned about applicants ability to multitask.

Executive recruiter Gameplan Europe is helping to fill the position of Country Manager (Canada) for the North American subsidiary (based in Plano, Texas) of a European toy and game company. [Sounds to me like Goliath.] Significant sales experience in the local market is required.

Among the 99 open positions with Spin Master are the following:

Among the 45 open positions with Games Workshop are the following in Nottingham, UK:

Azure Media, the toy and game media planning and buying division of Havas Media in London, is searching for an Account Manager. The role involves client management and planning and while 90 percent of client spend is still on commercial television airtime, digital knowledge is necessary.

ACD Distribution has an entry-level opening for a Sales Assistant in Middleton, Wisconsin. Responsibilities include preparing sales orders, maintaining customer information, and running reports.

Asmodee North America in Roseville, Minnesota has several warehouse job openings, one for a Controller, one for a Production Coordinator, and three for Toy and Gift Sales to focus on specialty retail.

Cryptozoic in Lake Forest, California is recruiting for a Production Manager to handle licensed collectible trading cards. The work includes creating schedules and working with manufacturing facilities, design teams, and licensors.

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Ravensburger in Germany is accepting applications for 18 month Board Game Internships. The work includes project management, designer relationship maintenance, market analysis, and product testing.

Hasbro is interviewing for spring semester (2019) Games Brand Writing Co-ops. These are temporary full-time jobs for undergraduate students and involve developing rules and instructions for games, creating content for party games, and writing for product packaging. Among the more than 100 other job openings at Hasbro, there’s one for a Dungeons & Dragons Game Designer and one for a Manager of Product Design in Adult Gaming.

USAopoly has two openings. One is for an Inside Sales Account Manager. One is for a Product Manager/Producer to coordinate “concept, costing, sourcing, design, manufacturing, shipping, and marketing in a cost-effective and timely manner.” Both are located in Carlsbad, California.

Konami Digital Entertainment, publisher of Yu-Gi-Oh!, is recruiting for an Organized Play Manager and an Organized Play Specialist. Responsibilities of the former include developing new organized play programs and managing the organized play budget. Responsibilities of the latter include interfacing with tournament organizers on administrative matters, forecasting inventory needs (such as prize support), and maintaining procedure documents.

Strategy & Tactics Press in Bakersfield, California is recruiting for a Magazine and Game Component Designer. The job involves magazine layout, creating artwork, and designing game components and packaging.

Genius Games in the St. Louis area is looking for a part-time Operations Assistant to organize company records, keep the books, communicate with customers, and manage bank accounts.

A number of openings exist at the Pokemon Company in Bellevue, Washington. The job of the Organized Play Associate is to schedule events, manage the contracting process for Premier Events, and coordinate with internal departments to support events. The job of the Events Manager is to develop and implement event plans. The former requires 3 years of experience, the latter 5-7 years. Pokemon also has two openings for Social Marketing Associates to implement the company’s social marketing strategy. Minimum 2 years experience required for this one.

The Chicago Chess Federation needs an Executive Director with experience at professional management and fundraising.

Jobs for youth Chess instructors abound, in DC, in Palm Beach, in Walnut Creek, California, in Framingham, Massachusetts, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, another in Eden Prairie, in Nutley, New Jersey, in Union City, California, in Park Ridge, New Jersey, in Midvale, Utah, in Grandview, Missouri, in Brecksville, Ohio, in Leander, Texas, in Atlanta, Georgia, and with four organizations in New York City: first, second, third, fourth.

OneBookShelf needs a Senior PHP Developer to help the organization to reengineer its legacy ecommerce system. This is a work-from-home position.

North Star Games in Kensignton, Maryland needs a Marketing Specialist to promote the video game versions of its board games. Two or more years of marketing experience is required and the position pays $30-60k per year.

Breaking Games is looking for a couple of new staff members, one for accounting and transaction management and one to assist with Target and Walmart accounts.

Panda Game Manufacturing has openings for an Account Manager, a Project Manager, and a Prepresss Specialist. The Account Manager’s responsibilities are focused on business development with new and existing customers. The Project Manager’s responsibilities are focused on guiding clients through the production process. And the Prepress Specialist’s responsibilities include verifying that incoming files comply with manufacturing specifications, as well as providing real-time support to clients.

At Atlas Games there’s an opening for an RPG Developer and Producer. Responsibilities include identifying projects, managing production, contributing to crowdfunding campaigns, and promoting releases.

Blok Party, makers of the PlayTable board game console, has an opportunity for a Marketing Intern. The position is paid and requires fluency in Mandarin.

Game Trayz is looking for part-time help 3D modeling board game inserts.

BAE Systems has at least two wargame-related positions available on contracts supporting the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Military experience and security clearances required.

Booz Allen Hamilton also has open wargame jobs. Both the Junior Wargame Analyst and the Mid Wargame Analyst position descriptions note “experience with commercial or hobby wargaming, including manual board games” as qualifications.

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Gamers near Plano, Texas have an opportunity to practice their crafting skills with Goliath Games. The company is looking for a part-time Prototype Maker.

The U.S. Chess Federation is searching for an experienced Director of Development. A new position with the organization, the Director of Development’s role will be to “create and implement a comprehensive development plan for short- and long-term revenue growth in support of the US Chess mission.”

WizKids is looking for an experienced Product Manager in Hillside, New Jersey to develop long term plans, develop packaging, and interface with operations on the company’s unpainted miniatures line.

Ludo Fact needs Machine Operators and Assemblers for board game manufacturing in Lafayette, Indiana.

For production of miniatures, Privateer Press needs a Metal Caster in Bellevue, Washington.

Topps has multiple openings at its locations in New York City and Scranton, Pennsylvania, among them a New Product Development Associate with drawing and modeling skills and a Brand Manager for non-sports entertainment properties.

Hasbro’s 100+ openings include:

TCGplayer has numerous openings in Syracuse, New York and Atlanta, Georgia. Lots for Software Engineers and Product Engineers. Also for finance and data analytics and shipping. Two individual positions are worth highlighting, though. There’s one for a Digital Marketing Manager to be responsible for online marketing campaigns. And the company is looking for a General Manager of Seller Services, who will be a member of the executive leadership team and responsible for the company’s line of business supplying software tools to retailers.

ACD Distribution has several warehouse opportunities in Middleton, Wisconsin and Fresno, California. Also sales positions in Wisconsin.

Alliance Game Distributors is looking to hire a Sales Specialist in Roseville, Minnesota, specifically to work with Asmodee North America. The company also has openings for a Sales Trainee and an Administrative Assistant at its home offices in Maryland.

Asmodee North America, itself, is recruiting for a Trade Marketing Manager to support the sales team with PR, media relations, trade shows, and merchandising.

Games Workshop has many openings for retail work at various locations worldwide, also for a variety positions at headquarters in Nottingham, UK, including:

Gamerati in DuPont, Washington is looking to hire a full-time Social Content Creator/Community Manager for the company’s services to game publishers.

Board game-related freelance jobs posted on Upwork include:

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