What my board game hobby taught me about content

There is nothing like unboxing and playing a new board game to prepare you for the world of content management. That may be the geekiest sentence I’ve typed all week – and trust me, the competition is fierce – but it’s true. My job is like an intense, ultra-complex ongoing board game. Here’s why:

Read the rules

No two board games are alike. You can try playing ‘Risk’ by the rules of ‘Monopoly’, but unless you’re doing it to make an artistic statement about capitalism as a new form of colonialism, you’ll get absolutely nowhere. With content strategy, you have to treat each client as a different game with its own unique set of rules. They all have their own unique culture and needs, and it’s up to you to know them well enough to play well.

The clock is ticking

Digital content is a time-sensitive business. When you’re working primarily in a medium that’s built on instant news feeds and viral videos, you can’t afford to waste time when you need to deliver relevant content. It’s rather like playing ‘30 Seconds’, only it’s 30 games of ‘30 Seconds’ going on at the same time.

Plan your next move

It will come as no surprise that digital content strategy requires a whole lot of strategy. Any good board game (not so fast, ‘Snakes and Ladders’) requires a good amount of creative thinking and forethought if you’re going to succeed at it. The best players, like the best content people, are able to recognise patterns, try new things and adapt quickly so they can rack up those figurative victory points.

Know your fellow players

People often ask me why I play board games. What I tell them (after establishing my hipster credentials and telling them that I play way more out there boardgames than the ones they’ll recall from childhood) is that I get to spend time having great fun with friends. Forget the plastic components; board games are about engaging with other people – knowing how they think and predicting what they’ll do next. Similarly, content requires a thorough understanding of people and what they’ll respond to. Content is worthless unless it reaches the audience you need to engage.

Enjoy the golden age

If you’ve been to an Exclusive Books lately, you might have noticed a sudden blossoming of unusual board games. Sitting alongside old favourites like ‘Scrabble’ and ‘Cluedo’ are unfamiliar games with titles like ‘Ticket to Ride’, ‘Carcassone’ and ‘Smallworld’. This is just a small taste of the boom the tabletop games industry is experiencing right now. Thousands of new games are released each year and, if you’ve played any of them, you’ll know that quality is at an all-time high. The growth of the digital content industry has been equally impressive, with more and more companies realising the power of online and social media. And the role of the content agency is only set to become more important as more South Africans gain 24/7 connectivity.

Let’s play!

– Claudia Ferreira

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