5 Game Designers I would love to meet (and why)
Wow! It’s been 5 years since I wrote the original article about games designers I would like to meet. I was only a few years into modern board games at that time and I’ve played (and filled my shelves) with so many great games since then. There are so many other game designers I’ve been introduced to!
I felt it was a good time to come back to this article and see what has changed in my mind and which designers today I would most like to meet.
Looking at my original post, the first 2 game designers haven’t changed and I would very much still love to meet them in person. Eric Lang was also on my list and fortunately, I have had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and even doing some playtesting with him. Steve Jackson and Ben Gerber were on my previous list and while it would still be great to meet them someday, there are a few other designers whose brain I would love to pick even more. 😊
So, let’s get to it!
My original post about game designers I’d love to meet (with a few updates):
You may not think much about it while you’re playing the latest awesome board game, but the idea for the game came from one person or a very small group of people. A lot of work went into turning the idea into the game it is now, and in between there were many, many versions, playtesting sessions, and changes along the way.
Game designers often don’t get the same kind of publicity that authors and other artists do. Sometimes their name doesn’t even appear on the box! This has been changing in more recent years, but there is still room for progress.
So, I got to thinking… If I could meet any game designers, who would I want to meet, and why?
Here’s are the top five I came up with:
1. Matt Leacock
My introduction to cooperative games was Forbidden Island, followed by Pandemic. I still play them both fairly frequently, and Pandemic will always have a special place in my heart. I also had a fantastic experience playing Pandemic Legacy Season 1 with my wife and our friend Matt (a different Matt). He’s one of my favourite game designers. I’d love to meet Matt Leacock and ask him how he comes up with his ideas and mechanics to make such enjoyable cooperative games in a field dominated by competitive games. Here’s his webpage for those who want to know more about Matt.
2. Jamey Stegmaier
Jamey is the go-to guy when it comes to tabletop gaming on Kickstarter. His Kickstarter Lessons blog is the gold standard for anyone looking to launch a crowdfunding project, game-related or otherwise. He is the designer of many games, including Viticulture, Euphoria, and the hugely popular Sycthe, which was released in 2016. Although he has moved away from using Kickstarter since then, he is still sharing his valuable insights on the platform and continues to give back SO MUCH to the board gaming community. He is also recognized as the publisher behind the 2019 Spiel des Jahres winner, Wingspan.
3. Reiner Knizia
Nobody has created more published games than Reiner Knizia, at least to my knowledge. With over 700 published titles, he is known to be the most prolific board game designer of all time. He’s the designer behind Age of War, Ra, Modern Art, The Quest for El Dorado, and Tigris & Euphrates. He has 24 titles within the top 1,000 games on Board Game Geek (BGG). And like me, his background is in mathematics. So, yeah, I’d love to meet and learn from Reiner Knizia any day! Here is his website.
4. Michael Kiesling
Michael Kiesling is the designer behind some of my favourite games, including Azul (which has now become a whole series of games) and Sanssouci. He has won multiple Spiel des Jahres awards, both designing solo and with his oft design partner, Wolfgang Kramer. But the most amazing part may be that they designed many of these games over fax and phone, having never actually met in person! I also co-designed one game completely remotely but at least my co-designer and I had the benefit of Zoom and messaging. There are so many of his games that I still want to try as well! Here is Michael’s BGG profile.
5. Phil Walker-Harding
I’ve actually had the pleasure and honour of talking to Phil Walker-Harding at the Board Game Design Virtual Summit, where I interviewed him about designing games with simple rules but lots of strategy and engagement. But I’d still love to meet him in person, chat, and play some games with him. Phil is the designer of the hit games Sushi Go, Barenpark, Imhotep, Gizmos, and many more. I love the games that he puts out and can’t wait to see what else he designs in the future. Here is Phil’s website.
This is not to say that it wouldn’t be amazing to meet other game designers. Rudiger Dorn, Uwe Rosenberg, and Wolfgang Warsch are just a few more who come to mind. There are so many other amazing designers out there that would be great to chat with and learn from.
I have had the pleasure of meeting a few rather notable game designers over the years, including Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier (designers of Junk Art, Belfort, But Wait, There’s More! and many others), Christopher Chung (of Lanterns fame), Steven Sauer (who has multiple published games including Caffeine Rush), Artem Safarov (creator of Cauldron and Unbroken), and Eric Lang (Blood Rage, Rising Sun, and so many other games), among others, and they have been amazing to talk to and so open about sharing their thoughts and ideas.
What game designers would you love to meet?