I recently downloaded the GameSalad client, which is interesting and definitely has gotten me thinking about digital games I’d like to create – not just the stories but the actual mechanics that go into them.  It’s fun to figure out how items will affect stats, how actors would interact, etc.  But actually creating those games has made me a wreck.  I’ve found the technology limiting and difficult to wrap my head around; in the end, it just makes me want to learn to code  – which I really don’t think I have the time for.  So I start to put aside this game design thing.

Then Russ Fan reached out and asked a simple question, “How’s it going on the game design stuff?”  This goes back to an older post of mine on the importance of having partners.  To have someone – who just one month ago was a complete stranger to me and who even now I have only met once – take a moment out of their day to think of my quest and reach out reminded me I do have support.  So I replied with my frustrations, and Russ directed me to another helpful article about Brenda Brathwaite’s time creating analog games when she felt frustrated by her own digital experiences (PS: Brenda is an incredible resource on Twitter, talking about her daily work experiences and situations.  Gives me a nice idea of what designers do.  Am hoping to have a chance to meet her, soon.)

Photo if Brenda's "Train" game, taken for The Escapist. Can you get your "cargo" to the warehouse?

Brenda found inspiration through moments in history where people struggled (as we do games), but that our modern society may not really understand, and creating a “game” experience around that.  I place the quotes as many of these didn’t end up being fun, as we think of fun.  They were making you the slave trader or the nazi leader and asking you to manage your “cargo” – but they made you think and feel and understand.

I hadn’t been focussing on analog games as I wasn’t even sure how to start with them; in my mind they didn’t tell stories like digital games do – they were just pieces and a board.  But I see now that they can – and really, they should.  This brief article alone made me finally actually want to start thinking analog and tell a hand’s on story.

Thank you, Russ & Brenda!

How a Board Game Can Make You Cry” by Jordan Dean