What Games Mean to Me #12 Help with Housework

Really, board games help keep my house cleaner than it normally would.

Stay with me, I will explain and it is quite simple.

I spend a lot of time working on game related content. Reading, writing, designing and building a business around board games takes up a lot of time. My wife gets to watching me on my computer everyday when she gets home from work. I am working on something that has to do with games. I need to be able to justify the time I spend working on games and one way I show is to keep up with the housework. I need to make sure that I do my share around the house and the way I do it is to do little bits at a time everyday. That might be to vacuum or to get some dishes done or wet wash the floor. You could say that I have added chores to my daily routine of game building.

Not only is the house more tidy than it used to be, my wife is happy that things are getting done around the house even when I am spending several hours everyday working on board game related stuff.

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What Games Mean to Me #11 Gives Me Focus

Being part of the Millennial crowd, I have stereotypically little in the way of attention span. I was (and still am) a terrible student because school was boring on a scale of “there has to be a better way.” I took me into my late 20’s to get into reading books because I could not focus long enough to get into the story of a book.

Along comes board game and game design.

The best way I can describe it, is that my brain is wired for board games. Whether I am playing or making a board game, I am in constant problem solving mode with elements of creativity and fun thrown in. Because of this combination board games offers, I have found I am able to focus on designing a game for a days at a time. I am able to write a regular blog with almost daily content.

When I was in school, I figured out how to get straight B’s without trying. I would watch the kids in the higher level classes and wish I had the same level of focus they had. Thinking back, I wonder how far I could have taken my education if I had had the focus for school that I have now for board games.

Now that I have board games to carry my focus, I have a new found excitement for the process that is making games, building a community and building a company around a subject that makes me and my brain happy.

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What Games Mean to Me #10 Way to Make Friends

Twitter and Star Realms

The games universe I live in starts with Twitter and Star Realms. When we joined Twitter last year, I did not go into it thinking that I would start making, what is a good term, digital friends or maybe just friends by talking about board games online. I thought I was going to talk about our games, learn about games and follow industry news. While all those are true, I am finding that I am building various friendships with different people from all over the place. As I learn about the people I talk to in the board game world, I find out they have some of the same interests I do….sports.

Star Realms(my game app of choice) comes along and now the people I interact with on Twitter (and other board game sites) and I can now have what feels like a continuous game to play. We talk about the games while we play them and other join in on the conversation, or trash talk and good times are had by all. Unless of course I am on a losing streak then I Star Realms hate everyone!

The point is, games make all of this possible. I get to make friends with all sorts of people from all walks of life all over the world. This goes beyond the social interactions I have with people at game night, this speaks to cultivating connections to people whom I would otherwise never known existed. Games have a power to expand my social horizons to places I never though of before I got into the hobby.

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What Games Mean to Me #9 Education I Believe In

I think there could be entire schools that are built on and around the concept of games.

This could be a total pipe dream but I have a passion for the education system. I was a bored student and I think about what it would have been like to be in a school environment that was more games based and less lecture/reading based? Would games have kept me more engaged in what I was learning? I’d like to think so.

I know there are some programs out there that are based in a game learning atmosphere, but I think the idea of a schools based entirely on game created learning are never meant to be. Just to be clear, I think there would have to be some form of teacher guided lecture so students could learn the concepts for the day, but instead of worksheets, students would use games as their method of reinforcement.

Regardless of entire school systems being based on games, I can see my children being more interested in learning a subject if there was a game involved. I would like to think I could design those games for my future children and if I can design games for them, why can’t I design games for other children in the world?

I believe that education is the greatest gift you can give a child and I believe that games, at their lowest, can reinforce what children have learned. At their best, games can give children the tools to improve their critical thinking, writing, social, math, problem solving…..you get the point.

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What Games Mean to Me #8 Games Can Leave The World a Better Place

Call me a cardboard hugger if you want, but I think games have the potential to make the world a better place.

The math is pretty simple, people have fun playing games; people should play more games. People can learn from from games, whether it be social skills or general education. Learning in a fun way…..sign me up!

As a designer of games, I like to think that I have the opportunity to make a game that will leave the world a better place than I found it. If you think about it, the bar is really low. If one of our games can help one person learn one thing, help one person to be a better friend or bring together family for one more family gathering, our games can leave the world a better place.

The power of games is immense if people are willing to look at the full potential of games. I hope that I can spread the idea that games are powerful and can do a lot of good things, one of them being the power to make the world a better place.

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What Games Mean to Me #7 Games are my Retirement

Making and playing games will be the thing that I will do in my retirement.

Sure, there are other things I will be doing with my time, but games is the big one. Making games will be the big one because this is what will keep my brain sharp for as long as possible. I know that making and playing games makes my brain very happy. When I play a fast paced real time game, my brain is going nuts. Process this information and play this card before my opponent gets there. When I am playing a strategy game, I need to take into account all the information I have access to and make the right decisions in order to stick to my plan. I also think games will be a way for me to stay connected to younger people, particularly my future family and other younger people that I would hope be added to the hobby as it grows.

I also want to something to do when I am retired. I think games are going to be the best time filler, other than golf, but I have to plan for the possibility that I will not be as mobile as I am now. I can design and play games whenever/where ever. If I don’t have the time now to play the number of games I want to play, why on earth would I not use the time I have in retirement to play and design as often as I can?

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What Games Mean to Me #6 Cut the Cord from the Man

Working a day job sucks. There, I said it. Every December my wife and I go to Hawaii and when we get back, we have the same conversation. The “I don’t want to go back to work” conversation, and not just in the “it’s monday” way. I am talking about the being beholden to the man kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and I like the people I work with, but I don’t see myself doing what I do now for the next 30-40 years. Maybe it is a reflection of my generation, but I want to be able to be my own boss and I want to be in that position before I turn 40.

I think board games are the best avenue for me to accomplish that goal. Board games, specifically board game design and publishing, keeps my interest. I really enjoy all the project management that is involved in making board games. Having secretly/unknowingly wanting to be an entrepreneur for most of my life, I think I have found the way to be my own boss. Now, I am not naive enough to think that it will not be difficult, time consuming and terrifying if and when I decide to send in my letter of “I’m out…!” but the older I get, the more I feel like there are things in life that need to be explored and making a living in the board game world is something that draws me in to the point where I think I can make it happen.

I think the one thing that scares me more than the idea of being able to cover the bills with my own company, is the idea that I could reach the age of 60 and not have tried at all.

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What Games Mean to Me #5 My Games Are Part of My Legacy

I would like to leave the world a better place then I found it. I could plant some trees, pick up litter on my way, donate to a nature preserve etc. If children are in my future, I can teach them to be good people and carry on with the combination of my ideas for making the world a better place, mix it with their own and part of me will carry one. While I plan on doing all those things, I want my legacy to reach out to more people.

I look at the games we create as a way for people to come together years from now and enjoy spending time with one another. I want our games to teach people, young and old, about the teaching benefits games have to offer. I want people to understand the social benefits  a game has to offer. I want people look at one of our games and have a good feeling of friends and family, and maybe a few feelings of crushing the soul of their buddies because not winning a game for the sake of ruining your buddies day is sometimes more important!

At some point, I will be gone, but our games can live forever. The name on the front of a box, our company logo or the titles of our games can all stand for the fun and joy that can be had with family and friends. I like the idea that people can be playing out games a century from now. Students can learn, friends can blow up space ships and families can have a laugh. My games are part of my legacy and knowing that people could be playing our games many years in the future; helps give me motivation to make our games the best they can be.

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What Games Mean to Me #4 Get Me Out of My Natural Shell

I know I have already said I am in introvert and that games are a social experience worth having.What I want to get across here is that even in a group of people I know, I say very little. If we are in a one on one situation I am a complete chatter box, but when my wife and I attend a holiday party or a basic get together, I am the quiet one. I am happy to stand in the circle, but I don’t really say that much.

Board games act as a way for me to interact with the people I am close to, yes that sounds weird….but…..it is what it is! Board games give me a chance to be myself in a setting where everyone is pre-programmed to have some fun. Aidan and I are always trying to beat the living daylights out of each other and while this means we will never win the game we happen to be playing, I get to be myself. Conversations are started from the games we play. We will spend time talking about the games we played last week and we will talk about the games Aidan and I are working on. Our friends have a genuine interest in what we are doing and that really help in the confidence area.

Board games enable me to be a better friend because board games are a fun and irregular topic where people get excited to talk about them and I have a lot of knowledge about the subject because of what we do as a side business/hobby.

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Is There a Designer in Every Gamer?

In episode 13 of the Whose Turn is it Podcast, the hosts were asking the question “is there was a designer in every gamer?” The hosts were of the mind that there is a designer in every gamer, but the guest, Ignacy Trzewiczek, went so far as to say that most gamers are not qualified to design games and should not design games. I will let you listen to the episode to hear what exactly everyone had to say about the subject. I am here to offer my counter to the idea that gamers should not bother designing games at all.

The main reasons I took away from the podcast as to why gamers shouldn’t design games is that designing a game is very difficult and most gamers are not “qualified.”  I have written previously about how hard it is to make a game. I have no issue with the idea that making a game is incredibly difficult. Designing a game is easy, but making that game into a physical product with finished art and getting that game to market and then have it be a commercial success….tough, double tough. Does this mean that gamers should not bother to design a game in the first place? No. I take issue with the idea that rather than set the level of expectation to where it should be, the words of wisdom are “don’t bother.”

If you want to design a game, you need to have an idea of where you want to go with your idea. If you want to make a game for your friends and family, make it, take your time and enjoy the process. If you want to shoot for the stars and make a game with the intent of commercial “success” (measure how you see fit) you better know the time and persistence required to make a game happen. Your ideas might be bad, but there are so many designers out there and designer resources (BGDF, BGG designer forums, Facebook forums, designer blogs, etc) where designers can go and talk about their ideas. Test your ideas and other designers will tell you if there is a game worth pursuing. If the community tells you that the idea isn’t that strong, make it better or start working on another idea, look for another designer to bounce ideas off of, read the good ideas of others and learn what it takes to make a game go from basic concept and turn it into a great game. There is an avenue for designers to travel where they can improve their skills and meet the people and develop the team required to make games. Very few people have all the required skills the make a game happen, but there is an established forum of designs who are on the web looking and willing to help one another.

Which brings up to qualifications;if you have played a designer game, or a mass market game, and you have a basic understanding of interesting mechanics, you are qualified to start building a game. If you are willing to build your skill set or work with people who can help you make a full game, you are qualified to make a game. The barrier to entry for making a game is minuscule. There are no qualification requirements when it comes to making a game other than the willingness to work hard.

What bothers me the most is this, it is hard enough to design a game without established industry folks like Ignacy telling aspiring designs “don’t.” How many potential designers will listen to the podcast, hear an established publisher say they are not qualified and those potential designers are shot down before they even began? I believe it is the responsibility of people within this industry to spread the word about our games and the people who design them. Telling potential designers that shouldn’t because it is hard and they are not qualified is just bad stewardship and hurts our industry. If one wanted to tell potential designers that getting a game from the idea conception phase to the published in your hands phase is very difficult, I am right there with them. Recently on twitter there was a discussion about people not wanting to design game because of the work involved, and I totally get it. That is a choice some people make and that is awesome, please keep playing and enjoying the games you love. For the aspiring designers out there, you better have a good understanding of what you are getting yourself into. That being said, it is A LOT of fun and you will meet a lot of great people. If I stopped designing games now, I can say that I have made friends, met some great people and learned a lot about how games work.

Make your games, please, please, please…make your games.

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