The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

Who’s The Man (or Woman) Behind The Curtain???

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 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.  Quite often 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 are the top five I came up with:

Matt Leacock
My introduction to co-operative games was Forbidden Island, followed by Pandemic. I still play them both fairly frequently, and Pandemic has to be my favourite game of all time. I’d love to meet Matt and ask him how he comes up with his ideas and mechanics to make such enjoyable co-operative games in a field dominated by competitive games. Here’s his webpage for those who want to know more about Matt.

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 recently, he is still sharing his valuable insights on the platform and continues to give back SO MUCH to the board gaming community.

Steve Jackson
Here is a guy who has been around in the board game biz for a long time. The creator of Munchkin, Chez Geek, GURPS, Zombie Dice, and so many other games, Steve is a veteran in the industry. I’d love to sit down with him and talk about how games have changed since he first got into the business. Fun Fact – He also wrote 3 books in the Fighting Fantasy series (a choose-your-own-adventure role-playing book), but was not the only Steve Jackson to write in the series (the UK Steve Jackson created the series originally)! Here’s his website.

Eric Lang
I’ve seen him at designer nights around town but have never had the chance/nerve to introduce myself. I will have to remedy that someday soon! For those of you who don’t know Eric Lang, he is a prolific game designer. He’s created a hundred plus games and expansions, including Blood Rage, Duelyst, and Star Wars: The Card Game. I’d love to learn more about what makes him tick and how he’s been so successful!

Ben Gerber
Although he may not be as well known as some other designers, Ben has designed a number of games including Swamped and Ninja: Silent But Deadly. One of the reasons I’d like to meet Ben is that he runs an amazing board gaming group on Google+ (you need to check this out!) with over 18,000 members. It is an active and amazing community, with Ben posting game sale notices along with interesting, engaging questions and topics every day like “Take a game in your collection that you’ve played, but not very recently. Try to convince us all to play it. “ or “What’s your favorite ‘party game’?“. With game recommendations, shelfies (photos of gaming shelves), and lots of other fun stuff, it is a great group to be a part of, and Ben makes it a lot of fun. You can find him at Troll in the Corner.

This is not to say that it wouldn’t be amazing to meet other game designers. There are so many others out there that would be great to chat with and learn from.

I have had the pleasure of meeting a few rather notable designers, including Sen-Foong Lim (one half of the Bamboozle Brothers and designer of Junk Art, Belfort, But Wait, There’s More! and many others), Christopher Chung (of Lanterns fame), Stephen Sauer (who has multiple published games, including Caffeine Rush), and Artem Safarov (creator of Cauldron), among others, and they have been amazing to talk to and so open about sharing their thoughts and ideas.

What game designer would you love to meet?  (If you don’t know their name, you can always refer to one of your favourite games and just say “the designer of game x” )

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