You hear writers talk about it sometimes. About that point at which they stopped being simply readers and recognized that they were readers who also wanted to be writers. Many of them speak of realizing that they wanted to read a particular kind of story that they weren’t finding on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. And a new sense of wanting to create intertwined with that familiar desire to consume.
For me, the idea of not only wanting to play games but also create them was not entirely new.
As a kid, I made up my own card games. Out of boredom as much as it was out of a creative urge. As a teenager, I imagined my own video games. As an adult, in the ad world, I worked on projects revolving around contests and competitions. Occasionally meet-ups with other gamers led to discussion of concepts and possibilities for PC and mobile platforms. Once or twice, these conversations translated into action.
What was new about the idea of designing a tabletop game was a sense of simultaneously being inspired by what was present and what was lacking.
Over the past three years I have logged just under two thousand hours of tabletop gameplay as a casual player. A player with a passion, yes. But a player who had to be skilled at playing grown-up too, with that set of unshakeable responsibilities that claimed the bulk of my waking hours. And, still, a bulging log of gameplay hours.
Building on a history of classic board and card games as a kid, video and RPG experience as a teen and adult, I was adopting a new set of vocabulary, spending evenings and weekends with ‘worker-placement’ and ‘light strategy’ and ‘4X’ entertainments, with family and friends and small groups dedicated to the pastime.
I’ve discovered so many awesome games. So many talented and dedicated designers and creators. If time stopped right now, in the tabletop world, I’d be entertained for the remainder of my days.
Simultaneously, with all these new experiences, I am also keenly aware of having something to contribute myself. Of recognizing where there are possibilities and combinations which have not yet been boxed and sold.
From my experience in the ad world, I know that personnel are often divided into creatives and non-creatives. But in these environments I’ve met many problem-solvers and managers who exhibit creativity in their problem-solving and team management daily: a lot of creative thinking for ‘non-creatives’. And I’ve met a lot of folks working in ‘creative’ departments who are skilled at mimicry and patterning: not much innovation for these ‘creatives’.
Tabletop gaming has corrected my binary thinking. The line between players and creators is blurred. And I’m ready to give back. Ready to work. Ready to put all those games I’ve been playing to work.