Well hello there, my name’s Paul and I’m the new Community Manager at ITB. By way of introduction I’m going to take a trip down memory lane and give you an insight into the journey that’s got me here. Growing up I remember playing Monopoly and one massively long game of Risk, but other than that I had no exposure to what you might call hobby games. My brother was into Warhammer, but I could never get my head around the free form battles and the effort of painting figures.
I’ve always been into games. Some of my earliest memories are getting up early to play Sonic before going to school. I’m old enough to remember first generation Pokémon, and how this wasn’t just a video game but a TV show and a card game and toys and plushies and… you get the idea. Pokémon is a brand, something I understand now but when I was younger it just made sense, why wouldn’t you do this?
And that’s not to say that I’m a massive Pokémon fan (the last one I played was black and white), but as a way to say that I am a collector and consumer. I love stuff. When I first got into music I would find a band I liked and acquire their entire back catalogue. Pretty much every Saturday was spent searching through racks of CDs. I had (and still do) have a massive record collection – although the amount I buy has reduced greatly over the last 5 years – I mean who do you know now that still collects CDs?
At university I got into movies and applied my same music collecting logic to directors. Kevin Smith, Cameron Crowe, Wes Anderson and Studio Ghibli. It wasn’t until my second year of university that I got a Wii. The Wii had opened me back up to video games. When I finished University I got an Xbox 360, I instantly tore through all the classics I had missed. The first 3 Halo games, Mass Effect, GTA, I remember picking up Brutal Legend a game that sought to merge my love of metal music and video games.
Eventually this lead me to working at Codemasters. Codemasters are known for making racing games (Dirt and F1 most recently). I enjoyed my time, but most importantly I was introduced to the modern board game. A colleague had suggested playing a board game one lunch and I joined in. We played Zombies!!! I was so captivated by the tile-laying expanding board. Next we played Battlestar Galactica, as a fan of the series I loved it. When I left Codemasters to move to London I was given the Game of Thrones board game as a leaving present. It took me two years to get it to the table.
And so began my decline into a board game collector and the hobby industry. Slowly I started fumbling around, picking up the odd game here, trying to work out what games I would like and play. Lunch times evolved into card games, Fluxx in all its varieties and then Exploding Kittens happened. The Kittens crew was born and every lunch for a good six months was spent playing Exploding Kittens. Having played a few different games at this point I figured ‘Hay! I could do this’.
By this time I’d become a pretty big backer of Kickstarter games. One of which was Statecraft from ITB, although the game didn’t reach it’s funding first time around, there was an opportunity to sign up for the relaunch at the UK games expo and meet the team. This is where I first met Peter. I don’t know if he necessarily remembers this but I mentioned that I was working on my own game. I asked if I ask him some boring questions about launching a Kickstarter. He kindly agreed and gave me his card.
So skip forward a year and I made a prototype, playtested it, went to the UK Games Expo, Essen, met some great people and launched my own Kickstarter. I definitely underestimated the amount of work involved but in that time I learnt so much and played so many more games. I started going to playtesting events and other industry events. It seemed to me that despite seemingly everyone working on a new board game very few managed to do it full time. After successfully funding my game I spent much of this year getting it out to backers.
I decided to focus on building my project management skills, with the idea of developing games in my down time. I’d never really considered making a full-time career out of board games. It wasn’t until I saw the job advertised that I thought to myself once again ‘Hay! I could do that!’. A couple months later and here I am, turning my hobby into my job and I couldn’t be happier.