This is a picture of me:
Specifically, one of the few recent photos I could find of myself that is suitable for posting on a public website. This has a bit to do with the fact that I have just finished 3 somewhat riotous years at University in London. That said, between going out, and doing work, I could normally be found pursuing a more sedate pastime- playing games at the ‘London on Board’ Meetup group. I generally attended twice a week. Over the 3 years, I went through periods of playing the same game over and over again- Avalon and Battlestar Galactica being particularly persistent presences. I also got to try a whole host of stuff I never would have bought myself. I met some great people and it’s because of them and the sense of community that comes with a shared passion for something that I decided this is the industry I wanted to work in
My preoccupation with boardgaming didn’t, however, begin in London. Before University I worked as a ‘Game Guru’ at Thirsty Meeples Board Game Cafe in Oxford (pictured below). Before that, I was a regular at said Cafe.
Even further back than that, 2 other friends and I used to meet up to play games- mostly Catan, Stratego, and Dominion. A general interest in strategy and an obsession with finding optimal solutions to problems pushed me to try thing outside of the realm of board games as well. I played Warhammer Fantasy and 40k for a few years. I also played Magic the Gathering for a long while, and once got flown out to play at the ‘Pro Tour’ in Montreal.
Anyhow- enough about me – I’m joining the ITB team for a little while as an Intern. I intend to do a few things while i’m here. I’ll be doing a bunch of stuff for the website. I’m planning to write some articles about what my experience at a board game cafe has taught me about games design. I think this is worth doing because when you spend so much time teaching games to people with such a wide range of experience with the hobby, you get to see games from loads of different perspectives that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
You also get an appreciation for games which present mechanics in a clean and accessible way, and recognise how much more fun the gaming experience is when such things are present. Equally, you get to see how a lot of mistakes designers can make detract from the experience of playing. For example, when i’ve been teaching older customers who don’t have as good eyesight, I’ve noticed them struggling with the dulled and watered down colour schemes that games use for thematic reasons.
Also, while I was at University I studied under a Professor who was pioneering the use of board games as a means of training army officers to analyse problems from tactical and strategic perspectives. I’ll probably write some things about that too. Aside from covering the stuff i’ve mentioned, if there is anything you’d like to see, let me know!
Continuing the theme of creating content for the Website, i’m planning to publish some playthroughs of upcoming ITB releases. Most playthroughs online are done through Youtube, and i’m excited to see what other formats have to offer. One idea I had was to do narrative driven interactive run throughs. At the office we’d choose a game, describe what the players are trying to do, and offer viewers choices over what course of action they want to pursue. To give an example, for a game like Pirate’s Cove, where the objective is to gather treasure, build your ship, and battle enemies, we might ask something like the following:
You, the viewers, would then let us know what you want to do, and share in the adventure with us. Obviously, this kind of thing is new ground for ITB and new ground for me personally. It might work great or it might not work at all. We’ll see!
Another thing I’ll be doing is working on Sub Terra ahead of the promotional tour, and then Kickstarter release after Christmas. I’ve only learned bits about the game from conversations I’ve had with ITB staff so i’m looking forward to getting a look at the project from the inside. There’s a weird lack of easily-accessible exploration games in the boardgaming canon – that kind of thing is generally left to RPGs like Descent – so I can’t wait to see what Tim and the illustrators have come up with! There’s certainly plenty of space in the Cave exploring theme for some original gameplay and stunning art.
The last part of my job I’m going to bore you by telling you about is the one I’m most excited about. Every week ITB gets a few promising submissions from would-be games designers, and I’ll be part of team who builds those prototypes and tests them. I’ve done playtesting for games designed by friends before but this will be a bit different. Getting a snapshot into the pool of ideas from which the next big board games will come from is something i’m looking forward too.
Well, that about wraps it up for my first post. If you have any questions you’d like to ask, or any ideas you’d like to put forward, do comment below.