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Best Buy employee develops new board game

One of the best things about Best Buy, according to decision science senior manager Jeremy Geenen, is how the company encourages employees to bring their interests and passions into the workplace.

“I love getting to be part of the FINs (focused involvement networks) and other groups around Best Buy and having the support from my team to pursue those passions,” he said.

Jeremy leads the Best Buy Talent Show steering committee, is a leader of the Best Buy Auto Club FIN and loves participating in the Gaming FIN.

Outside of Best Buy, Jeremy’s taken one of his passions even further by working with two friends to develop a board game called The Stifling Dark.

The game launched Oct. 4 on Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding platform, and has raised more than $130,000 to enter production.

“People have been incredibly supportive, and it’s cool to see their enthusiasm about the game,” Jeremy said.

It began with an idea

In 2020, Jeremy pitched the idea of designing a board game to one of his friends, Matt. Both love board games and have been playing with friends and family since they were young. Matt agreed and brought in another friend, Ethan.

It took the team about two months to come up with a theme. Jeremy says they wanted a concept that had one player take on the role of the adversary with the goal of preventing the other players from completing tasks throughout the game, and horror was a perfect fit for that mechanic.

They also developed a unique game piece: an acrylic flashlight to help players find the adversary or uncover evidence to help them escape.

Once the game was developed, the team created a prototype and then got to work promoting The Stifling Dark. They had graphics created for the game and established a business to have the infrastructure in place to distribute the game. As self-publishers, however, they needed funds and publicity to help raise them.

Rules of Kickstarter engagement

To build a fan base for a successful Kickstarter campaign, Jeremy and the team attended board game conventions and invited players to try The Stifling Dark. They also asked social media influencers to review it. The trio built relationships with local game stores and did social media marketing to spread the word.

“It’s a lot of work,” Jeremy said. “You have to put in the money, time and learn the skills to put yourself in a good spot to get funding.”

The Kickstarter campaign opened on Oct. 4 and, within hours, reached the team’s original goal of $20,000, raising enough money to put the game into production.

“We were super nervous to put something we created out there for people to see, but it’s been amazing seeing all the support from friends, family, coworkers and complete strangers,” Jeremy said.

Now that The Stifling Dark is set for production, Jeremy and the team are excited to get their product out to a wider audience and partner with local game stores to carry it.  

It’s been two years in the making, but Jeremy says hearing how much players enjoy playing the game and seeing it come to life makes the effort worth it.

“The intent isn’t to get rich,” Jeremy said. “We just want to keep making games.”