One year old. When humans reach their first birthday, most of them can neither walk or talk, and almost all of them struggle to last more than a few hours without accidentally plopping their pants. Well here at Best Play we’re happy to announce that we just turned one, and we are proud to share that we can already effectively communicate and keep our knickers clean with only the smallest of efforts.
A lot has happened over the past 12 months. One Best Player is about to get married (Glenn’s stag is taking place the day this article will be published, in fact) and another recently got engaged. Two of us have moved city and one of us has moved country. All three of us have moved to a new house and we’ve all switched our real-life jobs too.
Yet amidst this sea of change, we’ve somehow managed to build this lil’ board game thing along the way and we’re collectively ecstatic that you are still here reading this right now.
We’re rather pleased with how things have panned out since discussing the idea of a slick, accessible and digestible board games site back in a quiet Brighton pub early last year. We already wrote about some of our favourite Best Play highlights at the end of last year, when we went through a roundup of 2016.
Looking around you, for a moment you might think we’re some kind of professional operation, run by a team of people that know exactly what they’re doing. Well, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Best Play costs us money, time and needless anxiety – plus we have precious little of the talent or knowledge required to make this thing work. But we love every minute of it, and we’ve certainly come a long way since day one.
What better way to celebrate 4/20 than to read about how things have panned out since the beginning of Best Play. Here are the milestones so far.
To begin with, we had no real idea about what we’d be able to do with our pathetic range of skills. So we just threw shit at the wall and waited to see what happened. We bought a bunch of terrible old games, and wrote an increasingly surreal series of articles about them. We recorded a faux unboxing and a slightly terrible 3D strategy game parody. We wrote reviews, put together lists and generally tried a whole bunch of garbage.
Then Glenn put together a short, sixty-second video about Survive: Escape from Atlantis and we realised that it perfectly encapsulated what the Best Play manifesto would be, if we’d ever written one. The Gist was born.
Working with Chickapig
After a few increasingly successful Gist videos, we began to be approached by a number of game designers. These budding creatives were looking for publicity for their Kickstarters, admittedly, but to be wanted was a wonderfully warm feeling. Like being held tightly at night, the reassuring grip of people caring about us pushed away our biggest fears of isolation and irrelevance. Anyway, once we received the game we ended up loving it so much that we made a video about it – and we’re pleased to say it was successfully backed on Kickstarter.
Later, we decided to muck about with data from Board Game Geek. We wrote a statistical analysis of the game we love to hate: Monopoly. Marcus has some heritage at this kind of thing, but we never expected hundreds of thousands of people to flood to our site at once. Our crappy £15 a month hosting couldn’t handle it, even after panicked expensive upgrades, and the site collapsed in an embarrassed heap. Still, we’re marking it as a win.
After nine months the site was already starting to look dated, and we were using a number of WordPress workarounds to get the thing working properly. A quiet patch in December gave us time to rejig the whole shebang, and we relaunched the site with a new coat of paint at the end of 2016. This redesign was an attempt to not only make our content more digestible to read, but also to make it easier to navigate to where you needed to be. We think it’s a vast improvement, but let us know if there’s anything you think we could be doing better.
Working with publishers
It was an exciting moment when a big, proper publisher first got in touch with us to find out how much our Gist videos cost. Naturally we let them know that we don’t typically charge anything at all, but neither would we produce anything other than something we wanted to make. That didn’t seem to bother them, but we came up with some cool ideas together and ended up creating a Gist about one of their games anyway. It wasn’t an important thing to you guys, we know, but for us it was a bit of a marker – validating our existence somehow.
Board Game Royale
We make a real effort not to stand still; to try new things and untested ideas. One of these was to launch a new podcast at the start of 2017, which we aimed to produce in the Best Play style. Short, succinct and accessible. The format we settled on was a light-hearted battleground, featuring two games that would face off in each 20 minute episode. We’ve iterated and improved it as the series has worn on, but as we pass the 12th episode we’re confident it won’t be something that fades away anytime soon.
The Brief History of
Again an attempt to mix up the formula, as we celebrate our birthday we’ve just begun putting out a new video format. These ‘longform’ videos (that’s just three minutes in Best Play language) take a look at the rarely-told stories behind some of the best known board games out there. So far there’s only been Cards Against Humanity and Monopoly, both of which seem to have been well recieved and, in our opinion, interesting, but we expect more to come in the following months. Please do let us know what you think of this new spinoff.
And there we are. April 2017. We’re sorry that the world has fallen apart so very dramatically over the past 12 months, but we’re 99.9% sure that it was nothing to do with us.
Thanks for all the help in getting us to where we are today, and we hope you’ll still be here with us next year too.