The Importance of Being Earnest… Whilst Blogging

by | Oct 7, 2016

Board Game Blog

I’ve been wrestling with the idea of a board game design blog for quite some time. It’s been a lot easier to hide in the technical crevices of game design. It’s easier to lose myself in the avenues of choice and chance. Sometimes I think that board game designers are the worst offenders when it comes to needing control over their environment. We create microcosms where we define the rules. The end goal is an experience that can be replicated without our personal involvement. All of this masquerades under the auspices of “fun”.  Don’t get me wrong. There are fun parts. I like the part where I imagine new worlds and new options and new ways of thinking. I like seeing people laughing and interacting. I love when people feel free to make fun of my games. I’m usually the first to make a joke. The truth, however, is that designing and producing a game is serious business and if you don’t have the stones to finish what you start, you should pick a different path. We’ll see if I can make it with my first game Wu Wei: Journey of the Changing Path.

Six years?!

I’m coming up on the six year mark for working on this beast. I never would have imagined that it would take this long or that the game would have gone through so many permutations. It’s still changing! It’s 99% there but the rule book is getting polished and some of the game elements are being updated for clarity. Or so I keep telling myself. There has been a steep learning curve with regard to prototypes and play testing. The hardest lesson of all was learning when to listen to feedback and when to ignore it. People have a tendency to gravitate toward things that are more familiar to them and as a result their feedback tends to mirror the types of games that they enjoy most. That being said, there are some standard notions from various games that are tried and true and should be considered before entering the realm of the new. I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds in my game. I can say without a doubt that it is unique.

Surfing the Cosmic Wave

In addition to designing games, I am a web programmer, a martial artist, an actor, and a director. I feel like this gives me a unique perspective and voice when it comes to designing experiences. In fact, that may be the tie that binds for me. I love to design experiences. Giving people a platform for broadening their perspectives is my jam. It often feels a bit Machiavellian to go about things this way but I have come to realize that we all need to embrace our talents. The shaping of human behavior through systems and experiences can be seen throughout history. World events, politics, and religion are just a few of the elements that influence our lives. At the macro level, we are also greatly influenced by the rotation of the Earth, the Sun, and the location of planets and stars at any particular moment. At the micro level, we are influenced by friends and family and even a chance meeting with a puppy or the taste of a great breakfast. There are a lot of systems playing on us all the time. It only makes sense that we develop beneficial systems for ourselves to help us navigate this ocean of experience. Each of these microcosms that I create is a view of the greater picture at a certain magnification. I’m not seeking to control the universe, I’m seeking a way to surf the cosmic wave.

Big Picture

You may have noticed that I have a tendency to be very big picture. Trust me when I tell you that this perspective can be a tough place from which to live. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s sort of like being able to predict future outcomes but feeling powerless to change them. To that end, embracing a certain flexibility can be helpful and the notion of Wu Wei (to do without doing) is a cozy balm.

More to Come

My goal with this blog is to try to express my thoughts on game design and chronicle my adventures with Wu Wei and other games. I have no idea what form this will take (besides rambling). This post is very esoteric and overly dramatic. If that’s what you are into then you should love the hell out of what is to come.