Games on the Brain

Why I’m Giving Away $2014 in Boardgames

A few days ago, BGG news editor Eric Martin shared a link on Facebook titled “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person.” Truth #3 really hit home for me:

#3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything

Do the math, the article said, How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being.

“All of it,” I was forced to admit.

The truth is, I go to sleep almost every night thinking about board game mechanics and designing games in my head. In fact, it was on a sleepless night many years ago when my wife first asked me why I couldn’t sleep, “Games on the Brain?”

The problem is I don’t do anything with those ideas!

Sure, I have a few notes here, and a prototype there, but all too often, I scour the internet for the latest board game news, click through pages of BGG images galleries, and watch the latest video reviews. Lately, I find myself checking Steam every 8 hours for the latest flash sales during the annual holiday event, carefully reviewing every video game on sale, terrified of missing a huge discount on the next sleeper hit.

The truth is, I’m desperately searching for happiness in all the wrong places… in consuming.

Even amidst the hardness of my heart, however, I know that true joy comes in giving!

Like the article said, “Who you are inside” is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.

Which brings me to Truth #1 from the article:

#1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement

Misery is comfortable. It’s why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.

Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.

It’s so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people’s creations. This movie is stupid. That couple’s kids are brats. That other couple’s relationship is a mess. That rich guy is shallow. This restaurant sucks. This Internet writer is an asshole. I’d better leave a mean comment demanding that the website fire him. See, I created something.

Whatever you try to build or create — be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship — you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they’ll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.

Ouch… isn’t that the truth?

I’m not going to let misery dictate my plans for 2014.

Despite the critics, the naysayers, and the trolls, I’m going to do something I haven’t done since 2009…

Publish a New Game

And not just one. I’m hoping to launch a number of new titles on Kickstarter in 2014.

To do that, I need a larger audience. Four hundred email newsletter subscribers simply won’t cut it for your typical Kickstarter project, even if many of them become backers. Thus, I’m borrowing an idea from Michael Mindes, founder of one of the most successful publishers on Kickstarter, Tasty Minstrel Games.

Back in 2009, Michael launched TMG in large part by doing one thing — giving away free games. That was followed by TMG’s first release, Eminent Domain, which arguably paved the way for tabletop game publishers on Kickstarter.

And so, to celebrate the New Year and what I hope to be new life for Games on the Brain, the little company I started nearly five years ago, I’m giving away up to $2014 in boardgames, cardgames, computer games, and gift certificates.

As I put the games aside last night, everything inside me was fighting it, just like the article said, but in the end, I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in ages, I feel detached from that which enslaved me. Giving them away is liberating.

Happy New Year!


  1. david

    Will you post a list of the winners? I see 5590 entries, which presumably is a lot of new subscribers. Even divided by 100 and x2 that should be a lot of winners. I’m also curious how you will split the $2014 up among so many winners.

    1. Tim Harrison Post author

      There weren’t 5590 people, there were 5590 entries. Each subscription was 2 entries, each like was 2 entries, each referral was 1 entry, etc. There were 912 new email subscribers, thus I’ll be giving away no less than $912 worth of games. The new subscribers brings my email list to 1328, so I’ll be picking 26 winners — two a day starting this past Monday.

      I’ll be contacting the winners by email daily, and will post the final list at the end.

  2. Roger Hicks

    I just saw this post (and your other two). Great stuff so far. It’s amazing how far you can get if you can just get past the hurdle of only talking and take action. I wish you the best of success! I added your blog to my feed-reader so your future articles should show up in the Today in Board Games newsletter :)

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