Douglas, the TikTok creator behind TikTokBoardGames, started sharing reviews of board games in 2020 and has grown an impressive following since then. Here, he reflects on his journey to becoming a well-known TikTok creator, recommends board games, and shares insights on his experience in the industry.
When did you become a TikTok creator?
I started on TikTok during the end of 2020. This was during the peak year of Covid so everyone was home and, for the most part, not working. I was in the education field and there was a lot less work at the time since students were taking class online.
What is it about TikTok that you love?
I love how powerful the For You page is, from both a TikTok creator aspect and marketer aspect. The For You page gives creators a chance to have their content shown to hundreds or thousands of people without even having a following. This is really good, especially when you're getting started. YouTube and Instagram didn't give you a chance like that at the time. Now Instagram has reels and it's great, but definitely not at the same level as TikTok's For You page.
What have you learned about running a game board brand on TikTok?
Oh man, this is a tough one because I've learned so much, like how to create content, including editing, scripting, and recording, and how to brand a game better. I started with zero experience in almost all of that.
I also learned what people like and don't like when it comes to content and games in general and how to grab and keep people's the attention. A lot of my older content was like an experiment in understanding these things.
However, the best things I learned are to not give up and to accept blame. TikTok can be super demoralizing, especially when you start or if you haven't figured out what you're trying to do. You can work hard on a video for hours and have a flop and that hurts. I've seen a lot of people quit due to this–they get demoralized. At one point I felt the same way. I didn't get TikTok or why my videos weren't doing well. But instead of complaining about it, I looked over my videos to find what I could do better. I started realizing my mistakes and that my videos weren't as good as I thought they were. So I started to do better, cleaned up spots, and focused more on scripts. Every time a video did poorly, I used it as feedback to improve my future videos. I never gave up and I learned to criticize myself more, not because I'm trying to make the best video, but because I'm trying to make a better video!
Anything you're working on that we should know about?
I'm filled with content and games that I have to cover. Honestly, it almost seems never ending, but that's a great thing. Regarding TiktokBoardgames, I'm focusing on growing Instagram, which is going amazing. My goal for the year was 10k followers and I'm at about 17k, so I'm gonna aim higher!
YouTube is also in the works, which is probably the most exciting thing I'm looking forward to. The content will range and I'm going to be doing a lot of experimenting there, from overviews to reviews (with a scoring system) and gameplay (as a teaching and entertainment form). I'm also planning on going to Gen Con this year. It'll be my first convention for board games so it'll be cool to see.
What's a game you remember playing as a kid?
I played all the Hasbro classics. I didn't play any of the big names or brands. I do remember getting the Age of Mythology board game at a yard sale. I had no idea how to play, so my younger brother and I just made up rules. The game always stuck with me and created a vivid memory, because that was the first time I saw a board game get more intricate than just rolling a die and moving around.
What's a recent board game you tried and loved?
Destinies. I'm not really a fan of app-driven board games, but this was implemented so well. The app never takes away too much and feels so perfect with the sounds and noise it provides. We had a blast playing it and it's also fun solo. I know I enjoyed the game, because I bought the expansions right away.
What's a go-to board game for you?
If I got newcomers, then Quacks of Quedlinburg. Easy to teach, simultaneous play, exciting and tense. And I got the Etsy bits to make it look even better. If it's more hardcore or a main group, then Root. There are so many factions and strategies and everyone loves the animal meeples.
What is it about board games that you love?
The creativity they bring. You would be surprised at how much you can do with just cardboard and dice. It's crazy how different two games can be with just a single different mechanic. It's also amazing how board games are able to reconnect people in person again, especially since we live in a very digitally-dominant world.
What's a guilty pleasure board game that you play?
Buying games and not playing them. I have a lot of games that are in plastic or are opened, but have never been played. It's like Pokemon, where I just wanna collect them all. Sometimes I buy the expansion, and I still haven't opened the original game. They just look cute together, so who am I to stop my games from being together with their family?
Do you have any advice for others who want to work in the game industry?
So from a game designer aspect, I don't personally know, but I have heard this a million times: Don't do it for the money–you're not looking at much and it will stress you out. From a creator's point of view: Don't give up and don't be scared to ask for help or opinions and take it. It can be hurtful, but trust me. It's great to know what you can do better and work on it. The reward at the end is worth it.
What would you like to see change about the board game industry?
Painted miniatures as an option and make Kickstarter exclusives timed. Those who get it, get it before anyone for a long time. And those who miss out, get an opportunity to buy it way later down the line.
Tell us about a cool game we should know about and why you love it.
Abandon All Artichokes. It's about getting rid of the artichokes in your hand before anyone else. You recruit funny, aggressive little vegetables to help you get rid of your artichokes while also trying to add them to your friends. It's a fun and easy little game with decision making, deckbuilding/shedding, and some luck (or a lot if you're one of the people I played with lol). It's also really portable and budget friendly.
Where are you from or where do you live?
I live in Maryland, which I think is the best state. We get all 4 seasons and they're randomized–it could snow in April or May, or maybe it's 80 degrees in the morning and then shoots down to 32 at night. We got crabs and Old Bay–perrrrrfect combo *chefs kiss*.
Check our this People Who Love Games article for great family-friendly board game recommendations from The Family Gamers.