It’s been a wonderful last ten years or so for independent creatives in the gaming and writing space. The internet along with the proliferation of digital platforms has brought with it unprecedented opportunities for people to create worlds of their own making and given them a shop-front to make a living from it. I’m happy to admit that Tin Man Games wouldn’t be the same being if it wasn’t for this new wave, if it even had had a chance to exist at all. With this brave new era, the floodgates have also opened and there is a surge of new books, games or music appearing everyday across the various digital stores around the world. Suddenly, as pioneers across this new land, we need to think smart and think quickly.
As we graze our cattle on the fertile plains, we watch as the land gets swallowed up by large ranches, run by ranchers that have been here before – in some cases many times. Their expertise and their cash reserves enable them to quickly work out how best to make use of the new land and before you know it, the best grass has been eaten, the competition to the watering holes is too intense, and their cattle breed exponentially so that there is so much livestock that the price of meat crashes. As lonesome pioneers it looks like all we have left is to fight amongst the dust and cowshit.
Apologies for the bad Sim Ranch analogy.
Back on topic. Marketing and PR, once the mainstay of publishers and large corporations is a skill that has been forced upon us indies and in the end, those that can market well generally succeed, while those that can’t, don’t, or just get incredibly lucky. Here at Tin Man Games we’ve had to learn all of this on the fly and have probably had more marketing successes than we’ve had failures (although we’ve certainly had a few failures), which is why I guess we’re still here after 5 years. As an indie it’s super important to build a brand, whether that be your company, the things you’re creating, or a bit of both. That is at least a good start, but just the beginning.
During our adventures we’ve met a lot of other indies that have come in all shapes and sizes, all of them persuing their own dreams of earning enough money from their creations in order that they can make a living from it. A lot of these are obviously creating at complete tangents to each other, but every now and then venn diagrams cross and this divergence is something that I think all of us independent types need to make the most of. There will be those that know how to plant grass seed effectively in poor soil, those that know good irrigation, those that can cunningly siphon water from watering holes, and even those that have chosen to stop worrying about selling meat. Milk! The future is in milk!
Sorry, drifted back on to the ranch again.
Anyway, the thing is we all have different strengths and we need to make use of those by joining together. That may be as simple as sharing an artist or a musician, or it may be as complex as collaborating on a single game. Either way, we need to allow each other to hop up on to each others shoulders – preferably simultaneously, which is no mean feat! As independents we need strength in shoulders to simply be able to poke our heads above the noise and maybe, just maybe, we’ll do so well that we crash the price of milk or get high enough that we see across the waters to a new far-off distant land.
Now we just need to find someone that can build a big boat….
And…in the spirit of this blog post you really, really, really need to check out Matt Youngmark’s Kickstarter, Chooseomatic Books for Free RPG Day! Not only is this for a really great Chooseomatic book (we recently created the app for the first one, Zombocalypse Now), but it helps you give a little back too. The project will fund an 80-page Chooseomatic book called Time Travel Dinosaur that will be given away in game shops as part of Free RPG Day on June 21st, an annual event designed to promote gaming and get new players into their local game shops. A perfect example of strength in shoulders!
UPDATE: With just 9 days to go as of writing, Matt still needs to reach his goal. So close. Help him!