The Tabletop Game Designers Association offers education and protection for game designers

An interview with a co-founder of the newly-launched TTGDA on the power of sharing collective knowledge

The Tabletop Game Designers Association offers education and protection for game designers
Photo by Christopher Paul High / Unsplash

In early May, three figures in the tabletop industry came together to announce the creation of the Tabletop Game Designers Association. Geoff Engelstein (Space Cadets, The Expanse), Elizabeth Hargrave (Wingspan, Undergrove), and Sen-Foong Lim (Jiangshi, Akrotiri) co-founded the TTGDA as an educational and professional resource for designers of “all types of tabletop games, including board games, role playing games, card games, miniature games, and others.”

Available for free on the site is a public list of educational resources and step-by-step guides for best practices through each stage of the game design process. Dues-paying members of the association gain access to annotated samples of legal documents, with higher-tier members receiving a TTRPG publisher directory, a library of design resources, contract review services, as well as mediation and support for members navigating contract disputes.

"The ability to member-check within a group to see if you’re being treated fairly cannot be overstated."

Collectives like these offer protection in a rapidly expanding industry that has long walked the line of semi-professional and semi-hobbyist. In an economic climate where full time work becomes more scarce—all while corporate publishing outfits become more profitable—a higher cultural awareness of tabletop games of all kinds means the industry has seen pervasive issues as it attempts to meet a rising demand. Designers that do go the self-published or crowdfunded route operate on handshake agreements that may not withstand the scrutiny large influxes of cash require, while creatives with little business experience who are eager to work with (or for) a publisher are more vulnerable to exploitative corporate labor practices.

Rascal sat down with co-founder Sen-Foong Lim—co-designer of games like MIND MGMT and Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall—to talk about why the current state of the board game and ttrpg industry industries necessitate the Tabletop Game Designers Association, what tangible support the organization offers potential members in the United States, and their plans for the future of the TTGDA.