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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Game Publishing for the Classroom

Going with my previous post about traditional games in the classroom, here's a resource that I recommend to teachers. It is a print on demand service that specializes in board and card games. Students could use this to turn a class project into a nice edition. Copies could be ordered for family and friends. With just a little more work, they can be made available through the site to the world at large.

The Game Crafter offers options for different sized cards, game boards and several other tokens that work for most games. I have published two of my own projects with them and I'm very happy with the results. The game pictured here consists of three different decks of cards and the accessories shown. It cost me about $20 to order my own copy. It's a little more than what I'd pay for a mass produced game with the same components, but it sure beats having to pay for a minimum run of 1,000 copies. My family worked on the project together and they loved seeing it finally arrive in print. I plan to offer it for sale, but to make a profit I will have to raise that price of $20.

So this won't likely be a direct path to a lot of financial rewards, but the site does have a Hall of Fame. There, designers who have used The Game Crafter as a bridge from idea to a successful mass production tell their stories. Certainly this print on demand service can get a good game into the hands of people who can take it further.

I can't say I've used this in the classroom yet, but I suggest it to teachers and I'm looking forward to the first time we can try it. The service is quite easy to use. The only hard part will be working with the graphics and most of that has nothing to do with The Game Crafter. It will depend on polished the students want their cards and boards to look.

I had a little trouble getting everything sized correctly for their site and the interface was a little frustrating at first. Familiarity with a program like GIMP or Paint Shop Pro will do the job nicely.

Once it's all created according to their specs (templates are available on the site) it's just a matter of uploading. You can order your own copies right away, but there are some additional requirements to enter if you want to put it for sale at the site.

If done right, a successful game project like this could involve all of these learning experiences:
  • Game design, with all of the problem solving, testing and creativity that comes with it
  • Graphic design
  • Setting a reasonable cost through choices in the game design itself, component creation and selection of existing components from the site
  • Writing the rules and informational materials
  • Promotion of the final product
If it sounds promising, interested students and teachers should start here.

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