A year and a half ago I was lying in bed and thinking about how stupid my life was. I was going from gig to gig, moving in and out of my mom's house, and constantly submitting myself to auditions, the outcome of which seemed to be as arbitrary as a roll of the dice. As much fun as I was having, I doubted that any sane person would trade places with me. But then I thought maybe...just maybe...the sane people of the world might want to get a taste of what life is like in my shoes, without having to risk the silly staples of their own lives like finacial stability and being able to stay in a relationship for more than a few months.
The next day I couldn't wait to tell everybody about my board game idea. I've had a lot of ideas that never have amounted much, but luckily with the help of my friends, and of some hardworking foreigners, production of my first board game is further along than I've ever thought possible.
The first version of the game barely resembled what it is now. It did involve dice, money, and gigs, but it was a game without turns, and it involved so much more math than anybody interested in theatre would ever have the patience to calculate. Luckily My Big Break1.0 didn't last more than a few days.
My Big Break2.0 fared a little better. It involved taking turns rolling dice to audition for gigs. Players also earned bitter cards (at the time they were called 'bitch cards') for failing auditions, which could be used to thwart other players in their goals. However, after a few weeks it too was significantly revamped.
Enter My Big Break3.0, which is pretty much the most basic version of the current game. We play tested this one to death trying to make it both fun and realistic, all the while keeping the game from taking hours to play. This was much more difficult than one might imagine. This version incorporated rolling up to 5 dice for each audition, depending on what a player was auditioning for. This version also offered the players an opportunity to compete with each other for rolls. Finally the game became structured so that more bitter cards came out later in the game than earlier in the game.
Eventually I submitted a prototype of the game to be played by die hard gamers that were strangers not interested in being my friends. They gave a lot of suggestions, and the game has since become My Big Break4.0. The new version involves players developing their abilities in three different areas-singing, dancing, and acting. Also, when a player completes a gig, they now get a closing card, which is a special bonus that also speeds up the game.
In March 2014 I started building My Big Break on thegamecrafter.com. I had all the building blocks of the game, but I wanted the game to be cartoonish and fun looking. I found an artist on Fiverr.com to do the majority of the artwork on the game. By the end of June, all of the artwork on the Bitter Cards was complete. I then turned toward the board. I decided that the game could retail for much less if the playing surface was printed on jumbo cards instead of on a thick board. I had all of these components complete by the end of August. The Closing Cards were completed around Christmas, and now we are focusing on the box and the instruction manual.
Later this year I'll turn my attention towards the first expansion of the game. This will involve two added gigs-a theme park and a dinner theater. This also gives players the option of waiting tables in New York City and of getting an agent to help with securing gigs. The expansion will also create more bitter cards and closing cards for more variety of play. The expansion will be very inexpensive to order because it will only involve a few card decks and a box.
Risks and challenges
I've funded this project myself, and I've spent about $800 on it so far. I'm not using kickstarter to raise money so much as raise awareness and community on the project. I expect to spend about another $200 or so on it. When the game retails on thegamecrafter.com, I'll make about $5 profit per copy in profit on it. I would have to sell about 160 copies this way to break even on the project. I'm not expecting the project to be a financial success so much as an artistic one.
The biggest challenge from here on out is getting more and more theatre people to know about it and to spread the word among the acting community that there is now a board game FOR them and ABOUT them.
There exists a 'competing' board game already. It is called Be a Broadway Star and it is basically Life but set with actors. I invite anybody to check it out. There is little to no strategy involved and next to zero interaction. My Big Break is simply a better game, in my opinion. If it weren't, I would have given up this project months ago.
- (60 days)