Gabe Barrett

#34 – Gabe Barrett

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Indy Board Game Designer's podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer each week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I am going to be talking to Gabe Barrett, who is the designer behind … I guess he's a lot of irons in the fire. He's an upcoming Kickstarter, which we're gonna talk about, called The Final Flicktier. He's putting on Ignite Conference which is an event all about board game design. It's in a few days. And he's probably most famous for the Board Game Design Lab podcast.

Patrick Rauland: Gabe, welcome to the show.

Gabe Barrett: Patrick, appreciate you having me, man. Hey that was some really cool intro music man. I was digging it. I was dancing over here.


Patrick Rauland: Isn't it good? Yeah, I got some good hip hop and sometimes on different shows I have a sweet, like a sweet filler beats in between sentences. I unfortunately don't have that button in front of me, but next time I'll have that button ready for you and we can put it in. You're like board game famous, Gabe. You have like-

Gabe Barrett: That means like 17 people know who I am. That's awesome.

Patrick Rauland: I mean for me it's just my mom, so it's like just me my mom-

Gabe Barrett: Your dog, man. Your dog knows who you are too.

Patrick Rauland: My dog. Yep. That's a huge audience. People probably know you from the Board Game Design Lab where you talk with lots of people about really cool things. You have a really focused show, which I like. I like to talk about … Or I should say, I want to show people what they haven't seen on your podcasts. I want to ask you a couple of questions about you as a person. If I met you at a convention Gabe, what is a game you would play every time no matter what?

Gabe Barrett: Ooh, a game I'd play every time no matter what. That is a really good question. Probably the new T.I.M.E. Stories. I love T.I.M.E. Stories. I don't ever get to play it now because I live in Honduras, and so it's super hard to get board games down this way as you might imagine. I would probably try to play whatever latest version of T.I.M.E. stories is out.

Patrick Rauland: All right. I like that. What is your favorite non-board game podcast?

Gabe Barrett: Favorite? I love Joe Rogan show. I love the just incredible people he has on that show from all different walks of life, all different political backgrounds, and different doctors and people way smarter than me. They just talk for like three hours. It's tons and tons of really cool information. I love listening to that show.

Patrick Rauland: Is that the Fear Factor guy?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, it is him from back in the day, old Fear Factor. He actually talks about how Fear Factor he thought was going to last like four episodes because it was so stupid and such a ridiculous show, and it went on for so many years. Yeah, that kind of launched him and his comedy career. He was a standup comedian, still does that, and then he started this podcast a while back and it's just taken off. I think it had over a billion downloads last year. I think in one year it had a billion downloads, so it's just kind of crazy.

Patrick Rauland: Wow, that is so cool. I didn't know anything that he's done since Fear Factor, so that's really cool to hear that he's doing good stuff I guess.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, check him out.

Patrick Rauland: If you are stranded on an island, what game would you want to take with you?

Gabe Barrett: What game would I want to take with me? It kind of goes back to can a plane drop expansions down because again it goes back to that T.I.M.E. stories thing. Can a plane drop in the newest expansions?

Patrick Rauland: I'm going to say no, but you could bring all the expansions with you.

Gabe Barrett: Oh, there you go, okay. Also eldritch horror, big fan. It's got a lot of … Great thing about that game is it's got a ton of expansions that are already out, so I could take all those with me and the game would never get old.

How Did You Get Into Board Games?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. The question I love asking everyone is how did you get into board games, board game design, and for you specifically what about podcasting?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, so board game design definitely came first. I started designing games man years ago making the crappiest games anyone had probably played up until that point in history. They were so bad. But I was having a lot of fun. I didn't know anything about modern games. Honestly, I just got into things. I played D&D, I played some tabletop stuff but I wasn't aware of all the modern game stuff. Eventually I started playing Catan and some of those old school things that brings in everybody, Magic and all that. I just started designing my own stuff. I'm one of those kind of people that the way my brain works I love to create more than I love to consume.

I love to create more than I love to consume

Gabe Barrett: I love to write more than I like to read. I love to make games more than I like to play games. I got into it and I thought, “Man, I want to do this myself.” That's where it started. Then the podcasts came about, I don't know, two and a half years ago or so. I had this idea. I had a few different ideas. I was like, “Okay, what am I going to do with my spare time?” I wanted to write a book, and I wanted to do some other stuff that was like going around and speaking and doing different things like that.

Gabe Barrett: Then I had this idea for a board game podcast, and I thought, “Okay, well that's probably the one that's not going to work, and so let me put that last and let me try these other things first.” I went out and did those other things, and they didn't even work at all. Eventually, I was like, “Let's try this podcast thing because I'm really excited about it.” It has taken off.

Gabe Barrett: The thing that I thought was not going to work at all has turned out to be the main thing that worked. We're about 100 episodes in at this point, and it's just been a wild ride. Tons of awesome people have come together to make this awesome Board Game Design Lab Community. It's just been a ton of fun to do on a weekly basis.

Patrick Rauland: I should point out the community on Facebook is awesome. I think it's got 2,000 people in the Facebook group and I posted something earlier today about the packaging for my game. And I think I got like 19 comments on like, “Well, do this, do this.” They're all like very nuanced things. They're all board game designers, right? They all care about the nuance. It is really cool that you've built that community.

Gabe Barrett: It's been crazy. I never imagined it would take off the way it did. It's just been a wild ride, and I'm so thankful to be a part of it just a lot of amazing people. I actually saw your post earlier. You're trying to figure out is this a creepy looking hand basically on your box. I was really glad that you got so many responses to help you out. I think a lot of people are feeling the same way.

Patrick Rauland: What's kinda cool is I was talking to you about something kind of tangentially related, and then you mentioned that you had a Kickstarter. What's cool about that is I normally interview people after their Kickstarter, so you're one of the few guests that we … In this case, I think you're about … Are you about 30 days away from your campaign launch?

Gabe Barrett: Yep. Pretty much a month.

What Do You Do 30 Days Out From a Kickstarter?

Patrick Rauland: Okay, cool. One of the things I'm just fascinated about is all the logistics that go into a Kickstarter. What do you need to know? I'm going to ask you right now with a month out. I'm going to ask you, where's the check-in? Is the prototype done? Are the reviews done? Does that all sound good?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Sounds great.

How Many Prototypes Did you Create?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. I would love to know I guess where are you with prototypes? Have you made one? Have you made a bunch? How many are out there?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, as far as number of prototypes, I have the main one that I've been iterating and fixing. I started back … I don't know January, February, March. Probably back in May, early June of really taking the idea out of my brain, out of my notebook, and turning it into a prototype. And so that prototype from way back when I still have. It's not very good. The idea was there. The idea was good, but the overall execution had a long way to go.

Gabe Barrett: It's been I don't know how many prototypes I've gone through over the last few months, but anyway I have the pretty good looking one. I printed stuff off myself. I'm waiting on the Game Crafter version. I've got a little bit more art that needs to come in and then I'll start sending out pretty prototypes to some blind play testing. And I've got some people that are going to help me look at the game and look at the rules and help me make sure everything is where it needs to be developmentally wise.

Gabe Barrett: That is like right now-ish, within the next couple of days that will start happening and that will start shipping out. Almost there.

How Many Reviewers Are On Board?

Patrick Rauland: My next question is how many reviewers did you send it to? And sort of a followup, I guess, did you send the reviewers unfinished art? To mean pretty close, but not done yet art?

Gabe Barrett: Part of the shipping is actually going out to these previewers as well. I have two lined up right now, maybe a third. I'm waiting to hear back from a third. They're reviewing the rule book. Actually, there's two more. So, maybe four. A potential of four. These are really previewers more than reviewers. It's a little weird with Kickstarter game, the review versus the preview. One thing I really looked into is I've seen a lot of Kickstarter pages. They have like 10 reviews and previews, like all these different videos. A lot of the stuff you have to pay for. Any time you do a preview, you're paying money for that.

Gabe Barrett: I'm really trying to figure out what's the best bang for the buck. I don't have thousands of dollars to put into marketing. Like really trying to figure out what are the main ones that I trust, that I feel confident in and that are also going to be within the budget so to speak. I've only reached out to … I reached out to a bunch trying to get prices and different ideas about how much it costs and all that. But I've really stuck to two or three feeling like, “Okay, these are the ones I really feel like bring the most for the money,” so to speak as far as the production values and their number of subscribers and things like that. That you just want to … You don't want to waste your money. That's where I'm at.

Patrick Rauland: Totally. I actually have just run into this myself with my game Fry Thief. A reviewer came back with a number that was … I won't say the reviewer, but it was $600 … I should say preview. So $600 for a preview. I was trying to think of like … I honestly wonder like how many people could I get to click and buy the Fry Thief now button on Facebook with $600 for Facebook ads. I don't know how to do that math. I can come up with some rough model, but I really question the value if it is $600. Maybe could you give us a ballpark like whose … Do I say who is the highest or what is the average? Is there some numbers you can give us?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I can give you … I don't want to their numbers and stuff out there. I don't to say things that change or anything like that. But anyway, I contacted one they were like it's about $800. I was like Wow! And kinda had the same reaction you did and even though this particular previewer, they have a ton of followers on Facebook, on YouTube, and all that stuff. It's like “but how many of those people are actually going to convert?” Is $800 worth it versus, like you're saying $800 worth of Facebook ads or I could get three previewers for $800, potentially.

Gabe Barrett: I've talked to some they were $250 and that seemed a lot more manageable. I've talked to some, they were free. And they said, “Hey, if I like the game, send me the rule book, send me some pictures and if i like it, I'll check it out.” And so, those were obviously like gold that someone with an audience would look at your game for free. I'd say cast a wide net and really try to find as many people as you can and check their track record and see how many subscribers are on it and see it. And see how many views they get too. Even if they have a ton of subscribers, if you only get 12 views on your preview, you've wasted your money. And so just doing your homework.

Have you Completed Your Kickstarter Video?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Awesome. Okay, so something … I guess for me personally I get the prototype, I get reviewers. I have no idea how to make a Kickstarter video. Where is your Kickstarter video. Is that done? Is it scripted? What? Where is it?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. It is planned, but I'm not doing the whole above and beyond crazy graphics and all this. No, it's just gonna be very straightforward. It's gonna be me, talking about the game and then showing people how to play the game. We're talking three minutes tops. Doing it all myself. I've got really pretty good camera. I've got a really nice microphone. The production value will be there. It's gonna look good. It's gonna sound good.

Gabe Barrett: I feel like at this point, I was talking to Daniel [inaudible 00:11:06] today about this. Kinda getting his ideas 'cause he's one of those Kickstarter experts so people pay him to consult and help them with their pages. So, he knows what he's talking about for the most part. I asked him about it, and he said “The main thing you need is to bring an audience with you. No one's gonna get to your Kickstarter page and watch the video and go. Now I'm gonna back the video or back this project.”

Gabe Barrett: The video is not gonna be the thing that gets them over the edge. Now it could be the thing that gets some away right? You could lose people but you're probably not gonna gain people based on the video. It's really about building an audience, building a base of support pre-Kickstarter, but then shows up on day one and then that gets the momentum going and then it goes on from there. So, I don't put that much stock in the video. You want it to be good. You want it to look good and sound good. But I wouldn't spend that much money on it or put that much time into it compared to some other things.

Patrick Rauland: Interesting. First of all, I totally agree with you need to bring the crowd with you. I totally agree with that philosophy. It's interesting because that's not the route that a lot of publishers go right? I've seen some really high-level beautiful videos. The one that's in my head right now is Tiny Epic Zombies. It has these cool 3D meeples running around with those cop cars and they're running over zombie meeples. It's a cool video that was clearly … I don't know how they make that, but I'm sure that cost thousands of dollars.

Gabe Barrett: Oh probably so.

Patrick Rauland: But it's cool to hear that you don't have to do that.

Gabe Barrett: No, definitely. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I watched a Kickstarter video. When I go to Kickstarter pages, I scroll right past the video. I look at the funding goal. I look and see how much the game costs. Then I compare that to what they're offering. I go, “Okay, this is a $49 game.” Then I start looking at it. I could tell by the art and the way the game is laid out on the table. Then I go to down to the “How to Play” video. I watch that on 2x speed. Right, trying to get as much information as quickly as possible. I make my decision pretty much right then, whether or not this is a game for me. I feel like I'm not alone. In fact there's a lot of people that aren't so much caring about the video overall.

Gabe Barrett: Now, there's a lot of people that do and so you can't just forget those people. You need to do some high quality and that it looks good and it explains the game or kind of what whatever route you take. But I feel like there's other things to be aware of and one of those like don't put everything in that video. Like there's gotta be more to it.

What About Manufacturing & Fulfillment?

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Alright. What about quotes from your manufacturer and fulfillment partners? Do you have those? Are those like down you already know who you're going to go with?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I pretty much know who I'm going to go with. I got all the fulfillment quotes. I actually back a couple of days ago I got some and then today I sent in like getting stretched goals and okay. So if the game changes and always a little bit more, just trying to play in for all the different scenarios that came in today. I feel really good about that. You can't get everything because sometimes things can change if you have to airfreight some things. The air freight charges can be a little bit different depending on time of year and things like that.

Gabe Barrett: You can't get it fully solidified, but you can get a pretty good estimate of what it's going to be and then still waiting to hear back from some manufacturers. Again, you want to cast a wide net and get a lot of different quotes and hear from a lot of different people and see what they're offering and then make your decision. But I'm pretty … I'm about 95% sure who I'm going to be going with at this point.

Are You Excited to Go the Kickstarter Route?

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. Let's change gears a little bit. You've got all this work, you've done all this cool prep for Kickstarter. Are you still happy that you're going the Kickstarter route instead of selling to a publisher?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I'm loving it now. This is the thing. If this game had miniatures, I would be losing my mind right now because I have no idea what that entails. But this game is cards, it's dice, it's neoprene mats, it's very straightforward, very simple game. It's not some crazy trying to make a million dollars on Kickstarter thing and so because it's simple, I feel really good. I'm excited. I got a whole bunch of art came in over the last couple of days and it looks amazing.

Gabe Barrett: It's art that I kinda had the vision for it. I've got some friends that are artists and graphic designers and I sat down with them and say, “Hey, this is what I'm thinking, and then you put your spin on it and then we'll come out. We'll figure this thing out together.” And it's been a lot of fun. That whole process has been a lot of fun. Then I probably wouldn't really be involved with had I gone the publishing route. Like this is not a game I even pitched to Publishers.

Gabe Barrett: I went into the game thinking, “I think I'm going to Kickstart this.” Now most of the games I've created … Or very much I wanted to get these published by a publisher. But this one even from the very beginning I thought, I think I want to do this myself. Both from, I want to control the whole thing. Start to finish. I want to control the art, the graphic design, how everything is laid out, all that stuff.

Gabe Barrett: Also I want to learn. I felt like this was a really good game to get my feet wet with Kickstarter and it's not going to be a super expensive game. Again, it doesn't have a lot of miniatures or anything like that. I was really excited just to learn the process and get to know all these different things for shipping and fulfillment. And understand the other side of the industry that I haven't really learned about other than just talking to people. I wanted to do it for myself.

Patrick Rauland: I find there's a huge difference between … I can read a blog post or a book or take a course on fulfillment and manufacturing. But you don't really get it until you have to do it.

Gabe Barrett: Oh, absolutely.

Tell Us About Your Podcast

Patrick Rauland: I think it's really cool that you're doing it. Okay. So I want to talk to about your podcast because that's your Board Game famous with your 17 listeners. You've talked to over a 100 people, right?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, just one. So episode 100 and I've also done some other series and things like that. Yep.

Patrick Rauland: You've talked to over 100 people, how has that changed your design process?

Gabe Barrett: I feel like it's helped me grow faster, if that makes sense. I feel like there's a lot of mistakes that I would have made had I not talked to all these experts that gave me great advice while they were talking to my listeners, right. I just kinda got to be there for all the information to … What's cool is I get to hear it twice. I hear it once during the actual interview, all their advice and then I hear it again during the editing. Every single episode I've heard twice at least and some of them I've gone back and listen again.

Gabe Barrett: I've just been able to absorb so many different pieces of advice and wisdom and ideas of, “Hey, do this, don't do that. I tried this one time, it didn't work so well, don't follow my mistakes,” or that kind of thing. And so I feel like my design level has gone up faster than it would have without it. It's been really great.

Patrick Rauland: You basically feel like it's helped you avoid a lot of mistakes?

Gabe Barrett: Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Where Are You Taking the Podcast?

Patrick Rauland: I'm curious where you're going to … Sorry, this was not a prescriptive question, it just came into my head. But I'm curious where you're going to take Board Game Design Lab because earlier this year you had a really cool design competition and then just a few weeks ago you announced this Ignite conference. So you're doing other … It's not just a podcast, right? There's a contest, there's a little conference. What is your end goal? What do you want to have happen?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, I mean perfect world. Eventually I would love to get to a point where this is my full time job. Where it is my job to help game designers have everything they need to grow and become the best game designers on the planet, right. To have all the resources and whether it's through interviews and podcasts or blog posts or through conferences or contest, all these different things to basically build this community to help as many people as possible make great games that people love. I mean, ultimately that's the goal.

Gabe Barrett: It's to be able to do this as a full time gig. And it's a long way off from there, I'm doing it part time, I'm making money here and there and it's helping me pay some bills here and there, which is great. To be paid for your … How to be paid for something that you love doing and that you enjoy. It's amazing. But hopefully one day it'll get to the point where Kinda hit that critical mass. Where we have enough people and enough base of support and enough people willing to put in and help support the show and that kind of thing that it becomes the day job. So we'll see.

Patrick Rauland: Man, that is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I started working for myself about two and a half years ago and I saved up so much money in my bank account because I was like, “Man, I got to make sure I don't … ” I have a mortgage, you can't … And you have kids. You have to be careful with that stuff. So it's cool you're, I guess taking baby steps and growing little by little and at some point I'm sure with good fortune you'll take that jump.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, that's definitely the goal. And I feel really good about it .The trajectory is definitely headed in that direction if I'm gonna just keep things going and keep adding things here and there and providing people with more and more and more value. I feel really good about it.

How Do You Want to Branch Out?

Patrick Rauland: Do you think you'd want to do more podcasts, more audio stuff? Do you think you want to do more of these conferences? Would you want to do like one on one consulting for Kickstarters? Like what … Because there's so much space out there to help people make board games.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Well, I mean the answer to that question is yes. I mean, I'm already doing pretty much all that. I've been doing consulting calls where people, they need help with either the game design or they're trying to figure out their kickstart, like you said, all these different things. There's so many different avenues that this industry takes and there's a lot of people out there who are at step one or step three out of 100.

Gabe Barrett: I've been able to help a lot of people just get a little bit further down the path and all the wisdom and knowledge that has been imparted on me, I've been able to pass that along to other people. I'm excited to do more game contests and … Like the Ignite conference, I hope that becomes a yearly thing. You know, this is the first one we've ever done. I'm super excited. I feel really good about all the speakers that are involved in and the people that are coming.

Gabe Barrett: It's cool because it's on Facebook, right? You don't even have to go anywhere. You don't have to get a hotel, you don't have to get a plane ticket or anything you can show up in your underwear and nobody's going to know. And so I'm excited to do that and maybe some other types of things. Then with the launch Board Game Design Lab+, a BGDL+ a while back.

Gabe Barrett: It's basically it's through patriot and so you get a subscription … You pay a subscription fee and you get access to all sorts of other audio shows. I've been doing the thing called the Kickstarter diaries, which is almost like a separate podcast end of itself where I talked to people just about Kickstarter and the mistakes they've made and success they've found. And they've been doing a podcast for the BGDL+ as well.

Gabe Barrett: It's all about hacking creativity. Figuring out how to get motivated, how to stay motivated, how to hack your time and all these different … How to be efficient and all that kind of stuff. I'm excited to do more and more and eventually it hits the limit, right. There's only so many hours a day, but right now I'm excited to keep figuring out new ways to add value.

What is Your Design Process?

Patrick Rauland: That's awesome. Let's change gears back to board games. What is your … I mean, when you have … Give us an overview of your design process. What does it look like from start to finish?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. So the initial idea and I've got countless all at the same time, just like any other game designer. Everything can be a game. As you walk down the street, you see 50 games on your way home. And so it always starts as an idea that sits in my head for a while. And it just kinda rolls around, right. And I have tons of ideas and I'll write them down. I'll write down different, “Okay, what about this mechanism? It might bring out the theme.” I start with theme almost 100% top.

Gabe Barrett: And can I have a game … I want to make a game about x and so what would support x? And I'll let those games just float around in my head for a while. And then I'll start working on one or two or three, typically no more than three at a time. Where I'll start prototyping bits and pieces. One thing that really bothers me about the way some people work and I feel like one of the reasons I get so overwhelmed is they try to prototype the whole game at the same time, right. They think I'm going to make this two hour game and I'm going to prototype the whole thing and then play test it.

Gabe Barrett: Well good luck to you. That's going to take a long time to figure that out. And so I'll just start prototyping little bits and pieces. I'll prototype the combat system, I'll prototype the movement, I'll prototype the events card, vanguards and just start putting these pieces together one at a time and just making sure they work. Okay, this works. Let me change this here. And then eventually I'll get to a point where the whole prototypes done. Okay, great.

Gabe Barrett: And then I'll play a little bit and I'll typically have two or three prototypes at a time going and play testing and figuring out and staring at, and all that. And eventually I'll get to a point with one of them I go, “Okay, this is the one I'm going to focus on.” And then I'll just hold off on the other one or two, put them on the shelf for a little while and I'll just focus on one. And put all my energy into it. All the play testing, all the time, all the thought processes into that one until we get to the point where it's pitchable or sometimes I'll do this for a contest so I can submit it to the contest or whatever.

Gabe Barrett: And so it Kinda … It's a big filter, right. I start with a whole bunch and it kind of filters, filter, filters down until I've got that one game I'm working on and I put everything into that. So that's how my process works.

Patrick Rauland: I was actually surprised when you said … Did you say you made your first prototype for a … Oh I'm gonna forget the name. Hold on, I want to get it. The Final Flicktier, there we go. Did you say you start … You made your first prototype in May or June?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, May was the first prototype, but the idea had been in my head for a while. I had this … I actually talking to a guest on my own podcast, he mentioned something and he gave me an idea for this like 4x dexterity space game. I was like, “Man, that could be really cool.” It just stuck in my head for a while and eventually this summer I had some extra time and I thought I'm going to see what I can do. And I started prototyping it and putting the ships together and the planets and figuring out the mechanisms and all that. And then it was off to the races.

How Many Hours Do You Work on Your Designs?

Patrick Rauland: I have to give you Kudos because I've been working on my game since November of last year, so I don't know how … And you're going to launch way before me. I don't know how you put it together that fast, that is … All right, here's a question. How many hours a day do you work on your designs? Maybe you have 30 hours in a day.

Gabe Barrett: No, it's definitely not that. One thing that really helps, it's a very simple game, right. With the dexterity, you can't go too complex, right. You can't go too far out there. You don't want a two hour dexterity game. You know what I mean? Like this is a 60 minute dexterity game and the dexterity is it's part of the game, but it's not the whole game. It's not like flip ships where dexterity is the game. This is one of the main mechanisms but it's not the whole thing. But that's one thing. It's the complexity.

Gabe Barrett: And again, I talked to some people and they're were working on these like super complex euro three hour experiences. And of course those games take two years to develop because there's so many moving parts and so many things going on. But when you're making really thematic games, that are very simple. I mean the rule book Super short, there's not that many rules. It goes a lot faster. Right. And then when you can really devote time to it and you're just like, “Okay, this is the thing I'm going to work on.”

Gabe Barrett: And that's another thing when I talked to the game designers that are just starting out or just figuring things out industry, because you have to schedule this stuff. If you want to be good at this, if you want to make it something real, make it a job and make it … Scheduled the time and make sure you're sticking by that time. You're dying on that hill, so to speak. And you're walking away from watching TV or Netflix or video games, whatever it is and you're devoting time to this. Because when you do that, it's amazing how fast things can come together.

Gabe Barrett: It also helps I have some really good folks here that live close to me that are wonderful play testers. And we get together every Sunday night and we play one of my games and maybe another game that they bring or something like that. And so that's been a huge help as well, to have people that come around and go, “Hey, we want to play your game.” And that's been amazing.

Patrick Rauland: That's interesting. I've talked to a few different people about play test groups or a board game design meetup groups and most people do not have a weekly group. But if … And I think for me I'm lucky where I have a monthly group and that's above average, a monthly group. But having, it's probably just your friends not like a meet up, meet up. But it's probably just your friends and they can just come over once a week. You … I have no doubt you can get tons of work done. It just, “Hey, I have a new idea, let's test it. Nope, didn't work. Cool, try something else next week.” You know what I mean?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. And my wife's a great cook. And so she makes dinner for everybody and they show up and they eat free food and they play one of my games and they leave fat and happy and everybody's … It works out for everybody.

Does Game Design Energize or Exhaust You?

Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. So tell me about when you are designing games are you like … You finished updating a game, are you excited or are you exhausted?

Gabe Barrett: I am so pumped every time. I have to be careful not to design too close to bedtime because I can't sleep. My brain just keeps working. It just wants to stay at the table. That's one of those things like an object in motion stays in motion and that is definitely my brain. Like it's sometimes difficult to get in motion, I'm like “Oh I don't feel like working on it.” But as soon as I start working, like I can just go for hours and hours and hours.

Gabe Barrett: And I don't … It's weird. I'm one of those people that I don't really get tired so to speak. Like I never just fall asleep. I have to go to bed, I have to actively go to bed. And so I could easily stay up two, three, four, 5:00 in the morning and just not even realize it. Just working on stuff and figuring things out. So I love it.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, that is amazing. I'm kind of there with you. I don't ever accidentally fall asleep. I have friends that will just fall asleep 10 minutes into a movie and I have no idea how their brain … How does that happen? Cause I'm glued to a TV screen … Well as soon as they start telling me a story I'm glued. And I needed to do the same thing, like go to bed and not do anything too interesting before. Okay. So, I guess how many …

How Many Games Are You Working On?

Patrick Rauland: Okay. So interesting question. You're working on this game you're about to launch on Kickstarter and I should say to all the listeners, this podcast should come out while it's on Kickstarter's. You can find it right now. If you go on there. How many games do you have with publishers? Like are there … Because I know you mentioned before like a couple of your games are with publishers. How many of those are there because you're still spending some time on them, right?

Gabe Barrett: Well so like one of the games with the publisher right now it's under review, it has been there for a while. They're working on a licensed IP for it and that just kind of takes a while to get that figured out to see if that's going to come through. That game is just like I don't know anything else to do to it. This is done. And that's the football game I've been working on forever and I've talked a lot about them own podcasts.

Gabe Barrett: And then I've got another game that I talked to a poster about and they said hey can you re-theme it just a little bit and do some different things there. And so that one I'm still working on it but it Kinda on the back burner right now. It stares at me. It's actually sitting right next to me at my desk right now, staring at me, reminding me that I need to work on it very soon. And so that one's … That's that.

Gabe Barrett: And I've got … Let's see a couple more that I've sent off to publishers and either have gotten really good feedback back or just sitting here waiting on them to kind of give me something in return. So there's, I don't know four or five that are out right now that are in a good place that could be published or just need maybe a little bit more development.

Gabe Barrett: So yeah, I've got a handful out there and then a whole bunch and notebooks and whole bunch of prototypes. They're in a drawer. The drawer of misfit prototypes over here next to me. I don't know how many are in there, man. At least 20 of games that just didn't turn out for whatever reason.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. I feel like I need a basement for that. I live in a condo and I do not have enough space for all the unfinished prototypes. I don't know what … At some point I'm going to have to get rid of them.

Gabe Barrett: Or just pour them out and take all the usable stuff, find a box for it and then just … Yeah. [crosstalk 00:28:31].

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: So I think I know the answer to this, but what does success look like in the board game world to you? Actually, since I think I know your answer I'm gonna change the question. What does it look like for you in the next year? And what does it look like for you in the next five years?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, for sure. Let's start with a bigger one. Next five years is like I said, making this a full time thing. Where I can do the podcast and I can do the community and all the different stuff for board game designers. More books, I got the board game design advice book that came out earlier this year, I'm working on the second edition now. And just doing as much as I can to make this a full time gig. And so what that looks like in the next year is what basically can I do it in a year instead of five.

Gabe Barrett: I've read a lot about can you 10x your results over the next three months or the next 12 months or whatever it is. And so it's like, “All right, how do I do that? What does it look like to try to do it now? Not that that's really the goal, but what would it look like if I could? And so it's just add more value, trying to find more ways to help people, whether it's through contests or consulting or conferences or books or whatever it is.

Gabe Barrett: And just anytime an idea comes along, hey, test it, prototype it. Hey, ask the community, “What do you guys think? Would you guys want something like this?” And then if they do, if they say, “Yeah, absolutely.” If they raised their hand so to speak, okay how do I make that happen? And so we'll see where it goes.

Overrated Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So I like to end all of my episodes, all of my shows with a game called overrated, underrated. Now I know I normally ask people, “Have you heard about it?” In your case, we just chatted about it right before the interview. So basically I'm gonna force you to take a position on a topic because it makes for interesting audios.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. Provocative listening.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. So sports games, are they overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Super underrated assuming that they actually feel like a sport and not just a math problem or they've taken all the fun out of it. I'm a huge sports guy. I played football through college and love football, love sports in general and I wish there were more sports games. I feel like they're underrated just because they need to be more represented.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay. So here's an assumption that Honduras does not get sort of summer, winter, fall, spring, is that correct?

Gabe Barrett: For the most part, yeah. Where I live it's more like San Diego weather. So it's kind of cool, it's kind of nice all the time and then it gets a little bit chilly, and chilly here is like 50 degrees. And then it gets a little warm and warm here is like 85 and so yeah. It's just kind of nice all year round. It's rainy or dry, basically there are two seasons.

Patrick Rauland: Yes. So my question are having four seasons. Is it overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Oh, that's a good question. I really miss snow. I love snow. I don't want it to snow very long. I want it to snow for like a week and then be gone and then be warm again. But I would say seasons are underrated. My daughter actually today was saying how she wished it would snow in Honduras and I said, “Well good luck to you there. It's probably not gonna happen.” And so she has this like longing idea of the United States and wanting to go to Wisconsin or somewhere where it's snowing.

Patrick Rauland: Now aren't you from Alabama? Do you get snow there?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, we get it for like a week and then it gets warm again. It great.

Patrick Rauland: Wait-

Gabe Barrett: It gets cold enough to snow but not cold enough to stick, right. But it gets cold enough to wear a threatened snow, and then they cancel school because it might snow, which is awesome. So you get to stay home from school and they bottled the bread and milk. It's all gone from the grocery stores. We freak out. It's awesome.

Patrick Rauland: That is amazing. Okay. So getting in over 100 or more play tests and have a game before you sell it to a publisher, before you launch it on Kickstarter, is that overrated or underrated?

Gabe Barrett: Yeah. Depends on the context, right. Again, it goes back to the complexity of the game. But I would say for a lot of games especially games coming out nowadays that aren't these long drawn out thing, I would say it's overrated. I don't think you necessarily need a 100 to do it. I think you could probably do it after 20, 30, 50. I'd say 50 might even be the ceiling here. Especially I know there's a lot of people say, “100 play tests when you haven't changed anything.”

Gabe Barrett: So you kind of, if you change something, it starts the number of back over. I don't know about all that, especially with the publisher, right. Now it Kickstarters are a little bit different because Kickstarting, you're wanting to put out a pretty finished product. But with a publisher they're going to put it through some development. It's going to go through more play testing with them. And so if you're dealing with publishers, I'd say 100 is definitely overrated.

Patrick Rauland: Perfect. And last one American football, overrated or underrated

Gabe Barrett: Way underrated is the greatest sport in the history of mankind. It teaches every life skill that you need to know. Unfortunately, it causes some brain damage allegedly. I can't … I don't know if it does or not, I can't remember. But I think it teaches everything, especially young man needs to be aware of as far as teamwork, working hard, discipline, overcoming adversity, fighting through pain. I think it teaches every life skill you need, especially as a young man.

Gabe Barrett: And so I would say it is very much underrated. More people need to play it. I just hope they can find a way to make it just a little bit less brain damaging.

Patrick Rauland: So I will ask you a recent news question. So correct me if I do not watch football closes. Let's let me know if I'm totally off base here. Isn't there some recent stuff about getting … What is it called where you can't tackle the quarterback very hard?

Gabe Barrett: Roughing the passer?

Patrick Rauland: But I could've sworn like, people were making fun of how recent someone actually sacked the quarterback and they got a penalty.

Gabe Barrett: Oh yeah. I mean the rules have gotten so … I mean it makes sense if you think about how much the NFL is a product, right. And the best way to sell your product is to have the best players on the field. And so if Tom Brady or insert best quarterback here, Cam Newton, whoever gets hurt. Well that hurts your brand, that hurts your product. You're not going to sell as much because the best players aren't playing. And so you want to do certain things to protect them and it's just unfortunate.

Gabe Barrett: It kind of simplifies football sometimes where you have these rules that exist to protect players, but they … It's a little bit questionable. It's like well that really wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't that bad, but you had the flag anyway. It's just kind of the nature of it being a brand and being a product more than just being a game.

Patrick Rauland: Got it. Also I'm really appreciating the distinction between the game and the product, right. Because the NFL cares about the product and people who play football in the backyard care about the game.

Gabe Barrett: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. The people watching at home, they would tell you they care about the game, right. It's when we had these conversations and we talked about the rules and that kind of stuff. But I mean ultimately it is a bazillion dollar product and they want to protect … Protecting the shield is what they call it. The NFL logo shield, and then you protect it.

Patrick Rauland: That is something good.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. It's what they talk about all the time especially with the commissioner and … That's one thing they talk about a lot too with like banning players or disciplined player, cutting and not cutting them, but like making them sit down for games and different things like that. They're protecting the shield because they're trying to protect the brand because they don't want all of the public backlash that goes along with domestic violence or whatever the topic of the day.

Gabe Barrett: So they try to protect that brand. It's been a really interesting thing with all the Trump stuff and all the kneeling. And it's been a very difficult time for the brand of football for the product and it's just interesting times ahead I think.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: Well thank you for sharing. I learned something about football today. This is awesome. Gabe where can people find you online?

Gabe Barrett: Online? There's That's kind of the base of operations, bringing fun, all the stuff I'm doing over there especially with the podcast. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook group I think it's or something like that. Board Game Design Lab Community, if you search for that you'll find it. And yeah, that's the best place.

Patrick Rauland: Well thank you for being on the show. I appreciate it.

Gabe Barrett: Yeah, definitely man. And like you said, the Kickstarter is on right now The Final Flicktier two to four players, 60 minutes, a 4x dexterity game. And so there's not too many of those out there. It's been a lot of fun to put together a lot of fun to play test. People were really enjoying it and they're loving it. And so I'm excited to get it in more people's hands.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Listeners, if you're listening to this and you liked the show, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you do, Gabe said he would build you a house in Honduras. That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Gabe Barrett: Absolutely. Well, the building costs down here are a little different, so it's not that hard.

Patrick Rauland: You can visit the site You can follow me on twitter. I'm @BFTrick. That's B as in Board game, F as in fun and trick as in trick taking games. I did … I finally finished putting up a page on my site for finalizing. If you finally go … If you go to my site, there's a thing where you can finally click the button that says, “Yes, I want to be on the email list.” So you can finally go there and do that if you want to. That's all I got for you. Until next time, happy designing everyone. Bye bye.

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