What Games Mean to Me #15 Teach Me to Talk with Confidence

I had a play test a few the week of writing this and while playing our game and meeting some new people was awesome, the time we spent after the test talking about games, design, and Kickstarter was the best.

In real life, I am normally quiet and reserved because I don’t have tons of confidence floating around about the subjects on the table. I tend towards knowing a little about a lot of topics, rather than a lot about a few subjects. This leads to a lot of situations where I know the people around me know more about a subject than I do and while I am in the conversation enough to know what is going on, I am never driving the conversation, or participating at the same level as everyone else.

In game life, I have a level of confidence to talk about all sorts of topics. Taking us back to the conversation post play test, I was the guy at the table that lead the discussion and had something to add to the conversation at all times. I was being asked questions about design and the time I have spent working on our games gave me the confidence to know that what I was saying was legit because I had either read about or experienced the ups and downs of game design.

We talked about what we were going to do during our Kickstarter campaign. Having spent the time reading about how to run a good Kickstarter campaign and followed other campaigns that did both good and bad things, I knew how to answer the questions with a level of confidence I don’t have in other arenas of interaction.

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What Games Mean to Me #14 Goal Setting….Sort of

If my high school cross country coach reads this, I am sorry. Goals have never stuck with me. When I ran cross country, we had to write down goals and we had to write them in the present tense. As much as I wanted to believe what I was writing, I was never good at challenging myself to run a sub 5 minute mile (5:35 is my personal best) or sub 11 minute two mile. I think I was there more for the social aspect of being on the team and spending time with my friends. Not to say I wasn’t trying, I just never had strong feelings towards goals and writing them down never did it for me.

Today, I still don’t really get the warm and fuzzies from writing down goals, BUT what games have done for me is make me look at what I need to do to build a board game company.

I still don’t like to write down my goals because that type of thing just doesn’t work for me. What does work for me is my drive to make a games based living work for me and that one huge overarching goal is enough to make me keep going on a daily basis. I don’t really go for resolutions either, but this year (2015) I want to work on TGIK Games, the company, every single day. And I am not just talking about spending ten minutes writing a blog post. I need to be doing research, reading relevant blogs that will help me learn what I need to in order to make it and survive in this industry. If I had sat down 18 months ago and written down the goal to build and run a board game company, I would not have been motivated by the words I wrote on that index card. What drives me are the words I write down every day of the tasks I have accomplished and the things I have learned.

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What Games Mean to Me #13 Help me Exercise

Before I got into game design, my daily routine was to wake up really early, go to work, drive home, lay down on the couch and nap until my wife got home, make dinner. Then games came along and while I wanted to get work done before my wife got home, I did not have the energy levels required to continue working the way I wanted to when I got home from work. Try as I might, I still took a nap more often than not, but I was able to start getting some work done on games in the evening. However, that was not enough to really think I was taking the board game design hobby seriously.

I realized that I needed to change my routine and get my energy levels back up so I could have two full time jobs at one time. I started running again and I started to do some yoga on my own. If I am honest, I have been on again off again with the exercise and yoga for about a year now, but my overall fitness has improved, and more importantly, I don’t take naps as soon as I get home from work anymore. I get a lot more work done and I finally feel like I am taking the board game business building and designing seriously.

Not to mention the “side benefits” of being in better shape and not feeling like a couch potato all the time. When I am on a longer run and I feel like garbage, rather than use some standard motivational line you would hear from a gym coach, I think to myself that I want to be able to stay up late and get up early the next day to work on games and I need to be able to have the energy and get better rest so I can design and build the games I want to make.

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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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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com