I don’t know if you have experienced this, but I have quite a bit recently. I have become what I like to title the “Unofficial Official Local Game Expert.” As my family, friends, and co-workers have learned about my freelancing work in the game industry, they have started approaching me with all their gaming questions and needs. This has been especially true now that a board game I worked on (Heavy Steam) has been published and is available. The roleplaying games I worked on previously gathered more confused nods and “ah, okay” sort of responses, but now that I have worked on a board game, people are more understanding of the work I do and are much more interested.
As we have all experienced, interest in tabletop gaming has grown considerably with gaming increasing in the news (Gen Con and International TableTop Day), especially in popular sources like Forbes and NBC Nightly News, and with gaming events at your local coffeehouses and pubs being announced. What I am finding is that as news and interest in gaming has grown, my friends, family and co-workers suddenly remember that I do some kind of work in the game industry. They have some question, and they remember me mentioning working Gen Con or that I helped edit some game or something. Thus, I become the “Unofficial Official Local Game Expert” that they know personally. Very similar to my other title, the “Unofficial Official Computer Help Desk” for all things technology-related, since I work in IT at a university. As your friends, family, and co-workers have learned about your work in the game industry, has this happened to you?
- Family and friends start asking for game recommendations.
- You are offered speaking opportunities at local meetings or at the local school.
- Area event planners ask you to host a game time during their event.
- After-school programs contact you about teaching and hosting games.
- You have the opportunity to be a mentor at a local game design jam.
- A college professor and you co-design a new Game Studies course for the University.
All of these have happened to me just this year! I know I am not an expert when you compare me to the amazing talent and experience in the world of gaming, but in my small town…in my circle of people…in my small pond of the world…I am the “Unofficial Official Local Game Expert” that is available. If you too have been blessed with this wonderful opportunity and unique title, it may not seem like it, but you have been bestowed a very serious responsibility to the game industry and the gaming hobby. You have become an official ambassador that others are going to look to as an expert. Definitely get involved and be that “”Unofficial Official Local Game Expert,” but also be honest about your knowledge and experience. Remain humble. If you are not comfortable assisting with what they are asking, let them know. Also, be willing to ask for help from others in the game industry. I have reached out to many of my publisher, designer, reviewer and freelancer friends when I needed the expertise of someone much more knowledgeable and experienced than me. I also make sure to give credit to those people.
Freelancing has opened up so many opportunities for me, more than just the joy of working in the game industry. How has freelancing opened other doors for you?