How to Get the Most out of Your BGDL+ Membership

When I started working on BGDL+ back in April of 2020, it was only going to be a small community site that gave users the ability to engage and discuss game design with one another.

However, as I went deeper into creating the site, I kept finding new, cool features to add that I knew designers would benefit from. (And it was a LOT of features, haha.) 

And with so much going on, I can see how a new user would miss some things, so in this post, I’m going to share with you the various aspects of the site and why I think you’ll find them useful.

Most of these features are available to members of the site with a free, Basic membership, however, there are several premium features you can only access with a Premium membership. Premium members are what keep the lights on at BGDL+, and it’s only through their support that BGDL+ will be able to become the best place for game designers on the internet.

So, please take a moment to consider becoming a premium member today!

Community Engagement

BGDL+ acts a lot like a social media site where you can discuss topics, post updates, share pictures of your latest prototype, give feedback, and a ton more. Here are the ways you can interact.

Your Profile

The site has quite a few ways to customize your profile. You can add a picture of yourself and a background cover. You can add links to all your social media pages. You can post a quick bio to tell others a bit more about yourself. 

And you can list all the games you’ve worked on. You can also search for members based on games they’ve worked on. For example, if you want to find the designer of a particular game but can’t remember their name, you can search for the game, and they’ll pop up (assuming they’ve listed the game in their credits).

Change the Language

The site defaults to American English, however, I realize that the BGDL community is made up of designers from everywhere in the world. If you’d like to change the language, you can click your name in the top menu and then click the language tab at the bottom.

The News Feed

Similar to Facebook, the site has a news feed where everything happening on the site will appear. If you want to get a snapshot of activity and find some cool things to read and/or comment on, you’ll find it here.

The site doesn’t use algorithms or anything to tell you what’s worth your time. Everything in the feed is chronological.

And you can filter what you see using the tabs at the top.

The Forums

The news feed is great for quick feedback and for posting links and photos of new projects and things you’re excited about. However, I wanted to make sure the site had a place not only for “microwave” content but also for long form “crockpot” content as well.

The forums make it super easy to post new questions about any topic related to games. They’re searchable, structured, and you can subscribe to forums and discussions so that you receive an email and/or notification every time a new response is posted.

(I’m especially excited to see all the cool, new games that get posted in the Work in Progress forum.)

Moderation

Unfortunately, there are some people on the internet who are what my old football coach would call jack-wagons. (I’m not entirely sure what that word means specifically, but I definitely understand the intent behind it.) So, to curb jack-wagons and jack-wagon behavior, the site has moderation tools.

If you see a comment, post, forum discussion, group, etc. that doesn’t line up with the BGDL Community Guidelines, you can hit the Report button attached to the content. If three users hit Report, the content is immediately hidden from all users, and site admins are notified of the content.

You can also block other users. When a user is blocked several times, the system sends a notification to the admins, and we can look into the person’s behavior and take further actions such as suspensions and bans.

And as always, you are encouraged to send a message about any content or user that is violating the community guidelines through the site’s contact form.

XP and Gems

You can earn XP and gems through various actions on the site. Anything related to growing as a game designer (viewing a course, completing design challenges, design time streaks, etc.) will earn you XP. Anything related to social interactions (posting updates and comments, liking content, posting blogs, etc.) will earn you gems.

Currently, these currencies are only used for bragging rights and to show how engaged you are with the community. However, in phase 2 of the site, there will be ways to spend gems, and there will be rewards for leveling up by gaining XP.

Monthly Update

At the beginning of each month, I’ll post an update detailing everything planned for the month, giveaway winners, and anything else related to the BGDL community.

Learning Tools

The core mission of the BGDL has been the same since day one: to help you design great games people love. So, I wanted to make sure BGDL+ was jam-packed with ways to learn and grow as a designer.

Courses (premium feature)

The site has an easy to use online learning tool with tons of courses on various topics related to design, publishing, marketing, productivity, and more.

A lot of the content is exclusive to BGDL+ while other courses are made up of curated content taken from various other sites and organized into one place.

New courses are constantly being added, and I think you’ll be able to find some really helpful advice in them.

Game Design Time Tracker

I’m a  big fan of the “Seinfeld Method” of tracking progress. Basically, you get a calendar and put a big, red X over every day that you work on your art. So, I put a design time calendar on the site to give you a way to track your progress and to give you a visual for the streaks you accumulate.

Don’t break the chain!

And if you have goals to playtest a certain number of times in a month or work on game design three nights a week, it makes it easy to see if you’re hitting your goals each month.

Game Idea Generator

Who doesn’t love a good random generator? Whether you’re struggling with design block or just want a fun challenge, the random generator will give you countless ideas for new games.

Design Contests

I think game design contests are excellent ways to grow as a designer and get your name out there. So, you’ll find a contest board with links to all the active design challenges and contests you can currently enter.

BGDL Podcast Episodes

I’m obviously a little biased, but I think the BGDL podcast is one of the best ways to learn more about game design.

So, you can find every episode of the show in an easy to navigate audio player.

Member’s Only Area (premium feature)

One of the perks of a premium membership is having access to the member’s only area. Here you’ll find monthly design challenges, giveaways, coupon codes, free PDFs of game design related books and other content, databases of manufacturers and other companies you can work with, and more.

My goal is to continue adding tons of useful information that will help you in both design and publishing.

The Blog

There’s a TON of amazing design-related content out there, but it can sometimes be difficult to find. So, I put a blog on the site where users can post their own articles and where you can find a feed of blogs posted on other sites.

Post a Blog or Design Diary

One of my favorite things to read is a design diary detailing the journey a designer went through to bring their game to life. So, I wanted BGDL+ users to be able to post this type of content.

In your profile, you can click on the Blog tab to find blogs you’ve posted in the past and a link to create a new post.

The blog creation page is a simple, light tool that will get your latest thoughts and ideas in front of the BGDL community quickly and easily. 

Groups

You can create a group based on anything related to game design. Maybe you want to get people together based on a specific theme or mechanism. Maybe you want to organize people from the same city or country. Or maybe you want to create a group for a game you’re working on. No matter what the reason, BGDL+ makes it easy.

The group can be open to the public, invite only, or hidden.

You can upload files, post photos, and even host Zoom calls inside the group.

Groups help you to find like-minded designers to engage with on specific topics and interests.

And you have the option to add a forum to the group if you want. 

Sub-Groups

You can also attach sub-groups to a group to make things more streamlined and specific. 

For example, you can create a group for you and your co-designer to have a central place to work on your game. Then, you can create a playtesting sub-group that’s for your game’s testers. 

They don’t need to see the day-to-day discussions about changing the card backs from red to blue, so there’s no reason for them to have access to the core group. But they can engage with you and other testers through the sub-group.

Or maybe you have a group for a certain country. Then, you can create sub-groups for individual cities in that country.

There are a ton of options here!

The Job Board

As a publisher, I’m always on the lookout for great people to work with, and I’ve found that posting jobs on Facebook can be a bit hit or miss. So, I wanted a job board that would make it easy for publishers and freelancers to find each other.

Post a Job (premium feature)

The submission form to post a job makes it easy to get your job on the site quickly and in front of the right people. And you can manage all of your job postings in one place through the job dashboard.

Find Jobs

I wanted to make it as simple as possible for freelancers to find a pursue jobs that they were interested in. You can filter based on job type and inquire about job directly through the site.

The Calendar

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go to one place to find out what Kickstarters are about to launch, where the upcoming conventions are, and when playtesting events are happening? I thought so, and I wanted to make sure there was an easy to navigate calendar where all that kind of stuff could be found.

Post an Event

If you know of or have an event coming up, please post it on the calendar. The submission form is clear and simple to use.

The Shop

You’ll find tons of game design related books, apparel, stickers and more in the site’s online store. And most items are cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else!

The App

When I first started working on BGDL+, I wrote down a bunch of “dream” features that I would love for the site to have. I wrote amazing app experience as the first item and circled it a bunch. For the site to be successful, I knew it needed to not just be mobile-friendly but to have its own native app that transferred the site to a streamlined mobile experience.

And thanks to some help from an awesome app developer, we pulled it off.

You can find the BGDL+ app in both the Apple and Google app stores.

More to Come!

That pretty much covers it, but we’re just getting started! All of these features are just the ground floor of a site that I hope becomes a very special place for designers to hang out.

Thanks for being part of the BGDL community, and if you haven’t already, please consider getting a Premium Membership to BGDL+. Premium members keep the site going and each one gets the site closer to phase 2 where even more amazing features will be added.