I sit down for a chat with the brilliant BoardgameswithB to chat about her role in the world of tabletop gaming, some of her favourite games, and how board game marketing has evolved recently.
Dice In The Dark: Hi B, thanks for being here today. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you and what do you do?
BoardgameswithB: Hey Mark, I’m glad to be here!
Well I like to say; I am just a girl, standing in front of my cat, asking it not to mess with my games! Haha. More seriously, I’m a board game enthusiast, cat hugger, coffee lover, mum of two from Australia. I also happen to be living the dream currently as a Social Media and Community Coordinator for Australia’s largest tabletop game company!
DITD: How did you first get involved with the world of tabletop gaming? Do you have any particularly fond memories from that time?
B: I initially grew up with classic games like Scrabble, Life and Chess and as I entered my teen years we branched out into games like Atmosfear (I still remember the anxiety haha!). I stopped playing games for a few years after I moved out of home and was re-introduced by my husband. Games became our “date night” when we had two kids under two years old and we didn’t have a babysitter. Instead of going out, we’d stay in and play games. It got us through some those tough early years and kept us connected.
One of my fondest memories was the first time I played a game with one of my kids. My son was only three years old at the time and he wanted to try Dragonwood. I remember how proud he was about playing with us and the joy it bought me seeing him engage learn through play! That feeling is what inspires me to continue to share about our families gaming experiences now.
DITD: What are some of your favourite games? What do you love about them?
B: It will come as no surprise to some people that I love Clank! In! Space! It was the first game that I really connected with. As a console gamer I was amazed to see that world of gaming I loved so much accessible physically and enjoyed with other people, around the table. I love space themes in general and Star Wars Outer Rim and Terraforming Mars round out my Top 3 games.
Over the years and as life got busier, I have also become a big fan of shorter, “coffee table” games – those ones you can pull out anytime and play. Some of my favourites include Cartographers, Patchwork and Azul.
And finally, I love kids games of course! Gaming with my kids is one of my favourite things. I think that board games are just as important in a child’s development as reading books. Some of our favourites are The Quest Kids, Outfoxed and The Adventures of Robin Hood! Plus, we get to have fun together no matter what the weather is like or what pandemics are rocking the world!
DITD: I’ve been fortunate enough to know you for a few years, and I know that you have a huge passion for tabletop games. What is it that makes tabletop games so special, do you think?
B: I sort of touched on this with previous answers, but for me games are more than just fun or a way to pass the time – they are a way I connect with my loved ones. They allow me to slow down and really appreciate the company of others. Life is too short not to play games!
DITD: You work as the Social Media and Community Coordinator for Australia’s largest distributor of tabletop games. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about? What was the process of getting a job in the tabletop industry like?
B: Well I am nothing if not determined haha! I set a goal for myself about 12 months ago that I would turn my instagram into a career in the industry. I don’t think anyone took me too seriously, but I am not a person who does things in halves and when I want something, I will work my butt off to make it happen.
So I started by networking online and really soaking everything up. I was already lucky enough to have a lot of friends and was very much a part of the growing community, I just began to seek more professional relationships as well with publishers, designers and social media coordinators.
I said yes to every opportunity and collaboration that came my way and I learnt from all the creators I met, big and small. After that point it was just about waiting for the right opportunity while continuing to develop my skills with photography, writing and content creation.
When I saw an opportunity locally, I went for it! I had no formal qualifications for the role, but my now bosses loved my enthusiasm, game knowledge and drive and they could see that if I was given the opportunity, I’d do the work because I loved it. Working in games is more than just a degree, you need passion and you need to really want it! Those traits translate well to marketing coincidentally!
DITD: What do you do in your role?
B: As social media coordinator I am in charge of making sure our brand partners and new games are feeling the love online across all platforms and I keep our channels growing organically. I use a mixture of ads, organic posts, edm (electronic direct mail) and local influencers/creators to help get our messages out. It’s my job to coordinate all that, track progress and develop strategies to keep improving.
Community coordinating is a lot like PR. I make sure we are involved in the gaming communities both off and online. This entails organising sponsorship for events and even coordinating events myself. I usually do this on behalf of our brand partners so you’ll likely never see my company “front facing” – we are all about our brands! I also engage with our community of retailers, suppliers and partners. We are b2b (business-to-business) at the core, but since I started in the role I am building my company’s public profile in the wider community too.
DITD: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your role?
B: Social media is constantly changing – the trends, the technology, the people using it! One thing might work one week and flop the next. I feel like I have to be constantly plugged in to be successful and it’s not really a 9 to 5 job. If it was anything other than board games, it would be tough to be so tuned in!
I also had really different expectations of what social media coordinating was. I assumed I’d just be running work accounts like I would run my own, but I just don’t have time for that! Aside from the odd reel or two and photos; I curate assets from publishers and find content creators and photographers who can make awesome things for us and I coordinate that; it’s a very different approach, that’s for sure.
DITD: What’s been the most rewarding project that you’ve worked on in your role so far?
B: I have just finished helping a fellow Aussie launch a new initiative in line with RUOK Day. Through my company and our brand partners, I’ve helped sponsor over 20 RUOK 2 Play events around the country. These events are free to play game events which invite people to slow down, play a game and if they need to, reach out for help. Mental health is a cause close to my heart and I’m glad to have the opportunity to help make a difference for our gaming community.
DITD: How important is social media for spreading the word about a game, compared to more traditional forms of advertising, such as print ads in magazines?
B: People are still really discovering the full potential of social media advertising and marketing! But an obvious way it compares to traditional ads is that Instagram and other online platforms have a way more diverse reach and engagement possibilities than traditional or print ads. Aside from that, I put a high value on communities for authentic marketing approaches like reviews and recommendations. Often in this hobby games are bought because someone in our community recommended it and not because an ad told them they need it.
The power of social media also comes from the phenomena which are often referred to as “hype”, “hotness” and “fomo”. It’s fast media and that brings a sense of urgency to buyers/consumers. Everyone wants to be able to talk about the newest thing when it’s new.
So to answer your question, I believe social media is extremely important and for my sake, I hope it stays that way haha!
DITD: What has driven a shift of focus towards more social media / community / influencer style marketing over the last few years, do you think?
B: Great question! I think people have always been driven by a sense of community and wanting to belong. Social media and influencer marketing gives us that sense that if I buy a product, I’m one of them, I am a part of it! There isn’t anything wrong with this at all, and if it’s used respectfully I find it is one of the most enjoyable and successful ways to market.
I personally want every person, couple and family to be able to experience modern gaming and the communities that surround it. I have become more objective about games and products and try to look at them from each angle to find who would actually enjoy them or benefit from them. That’s how I approach my work so I can take a balanced approach maintaining my integrity while marketing, because let’s be honest, at times those two things can be at odds with one another.
At the end of the day, being in the marketing/social media scene of the industry just gives me the resources I need to help more people than ever get into gaming!
DITD: Can you share with us any exciting projects that you have coming up in the future?
B: At the moment I’m working on a big marketing campaign for Exploding Kittens. It’s another way that we’ll be inviting every day families to turn off the tv and roll out the metaphorical game mat! There will be lots of free to play events, prizes and just fun in general!
I am also helping my team prepare for our biggest ever presence at PAX Aus where we’ll be representing over 20 of our brand partners. It’s going to be my first ever convention experience and I’m beyond excited!
DITD: What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the tabletop industry?
If you love it; work hard, say yes to opportunities, collaborate and don’t be disheartened by setbacks. And when you see a door squeak open, kick that door down and announce your arrival!!
DITD: Where can people find you online?
B: Scrolling aimlessly through TikTok hoping to one day understand it… haha! Otherwise, at Boardgameswithb on Instagram and sometimes on The Dice Tower, but you’ll have to squint or you’ll miss me, hah.
DITD: Just for fun, what would you say is the greatest movie of all time, and what makes it so great?
B: Pride and Prejudice! I am an absolute hopeless romantic, I even named my daughter after Jane Austen. 2005 Pride and Prejudice is my favourite. The scene where Darcy flexes his hand after having touched Elizabeth’s… ah, perfection! There hasn’t been a single more romantic moment in a film ever since.
DITD: Thanks for being here today B, it’s been a pleasure.
B: Thanks for having me Mark, I love this new series you are doing and I hope you continue to enjoy it!
A huge thank you again to BoardgameswithB for chatting to me. B has been a hugely supportive and positive force to me in the tabletop gaming space, and I’m very grateful that I got to speak to her. Thanks again, B.