‘Gamemaster’ Explores The Board Games That Have Made It Big And Designers Hoping To Follow Suit

The tabletop industry has exploded in recent years, and life in quarantine has made games more popular than ever. But the competition to get to market is as fierce as ever, and the Gamemaster documentary out next week shows just how much work it takes to make it big in a crowded industry.

“We’re in the middle of a tabletop renaissance,” a narrator says in the trailer. “It’s a $3 billion industry and every year it grows.

The documentary highlights designers trying to make it big in the industry and also talks to those behind some of the biggest games in the table top industry, including Settlers of Catan, a game that’s spawned a number of variations and digital versions while selling millions of copies all over the world. One of those is Exploding Kittens, a card game from The Oatmeal creator Matt Inman and designer Elan Lee. Launched on Kickstarter, the game was a huge success and has sparked expansions, spinoffs and toy components to make it an industry mainstay.

In this exclusive clip from the documentary, Lee explains one of the many ways they’ve tried to make Exploding Kittens stand out in a very crowded game industry: giant versions of cards that force players to use a bit of teamwork to play at conferences and conventions.

The tactic is effective because it draws big crowds watching people navigate the super-sized cards while serving as a huge advertisement for the game’s colorful illustrations and quick gameplay. In an industry where those conventions are essential for spreading word of mouth about games, getting that kind of attention can be the difference between a quiet launch and tabletop super stardom.

The documentary is a blend of exploring lesser-known designers and their quest to make their games as well as taking lessons from successful designers who have made many of the titles likely to be in your game collection. It’s a fascinating look at an industry often overlooked by some but one that, like its digital gaming counterpart, continues to grow

Gamemasters hits video on demand on July 7.