Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the new board game designers podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they’ve learned to get to where they are today. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I’m going to be talking with Jeremy Holcomb, who is the designer behind The Duke, Toboggans of Doom among many other games as well as the White Box, which is a collection of components and lessons I guess to get new game designers started. So. Jeremy, welcome to the show.
Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Patrick Rauland: Yay. So I have a little game that I do in the beginning just to sort of get people to know you. Just very quickly and sort of lightening answer round fashion. If I met you at a convention, what is a game you would play with me every single time?
Jeremy Holcomb: I would play any game that I’ve never played before. I will always play something new over even my favorite games, just to explore new stuff.
Patrick Rauland: Even if it’s eight hour for Eight X game, let’s say?
Jeremy Holcomb: If that’s the only new thing available, that’s what I want to play.
Patrick Rauland: Wow. Awesome. What is your favorite components in the White Box?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I, of course, love the Book Of Essays because that’s the thing that I think imparts really the knowledge and that’s what the White Box is trying to do. The bits of here’s some quick ways to do prototyping is great, but the knowledge is there to help people avoid a lot of the mistakes I made.
Patrick Rauland: Got it. Now, I believe you currently live in the Pacific Northwest. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you go?
Jeremy Holcomb: That’s a really good question. I would maybe go to Essen, Germany because Essen, but fundamentally, I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest forever. I just love it here.
How Did You Get Into Board Games?
Patrick Rauland: Perfect. Love it. All right. So first real question is I read your bio on Board Game Geek and it’s quite long and I actually love your story. So tell us how did you get into board games and board games design?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean, of course, I played board games as a kid, role-playing games, dice games, all kinds of stuff, Magic when it first came out. That was just what I did for it, for a hobby. It never occurred to me that board game design was a thing that somebody could do as a living. I went to school and got a degree and went into industry and did normal boring things with ties and suits, but I was always making games in my spare time.
Jeremy Holcomb: It was the thing that I was doing when I got to decide what to do, and that gradually led me into, “Oh yeah, I’ll help you do some playtesting for your game.” “Oh yeah, let me help you be a playtest lead for this project.” “Oh, hey, here’s some ideas for how you might design this differently.” Gradually, I got more and more involved in the development process and at some point, I looked around and I’m like, “Wait a minute, I’m doing this for a living.” That wasn’t the plan, but it’s enormously satisfying.
Patrick Rauland: It’s pretty cool that it seems you almost fell into it, right, you didn’t, because I think some people they’re like, “Oh, this is like a dream,” and they planned their Kickstarter for years and in your case you just kind of just did cool things until you happened to be in it.
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. It was never this sort of thing where I was planning on it from a guidance counselor sitting down saying, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sort of standpoint. It was more, “This is what I’m doing in my spare time. This is what I’m doing with my free clock cycles, so I guess this is who I am.”
What is it Like Teaching Game Design?
Patrick Rauland: That’s really, really cool. So you currently teach game design at a university? That is a first for me. I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who does that. That is awesome. I guess the first question actually just because I imagine, this is an assumption, so I did not go to college for game design, so I have no idea what that program is like. Are they mostly there for video games or are they there for board games or how does that work?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. Most of my students are designers who are anticipating growing up and going into the video game industry, but the fundamental concepts of design are not different from tabletop and computer games. Right. They have different implementation, but many of the core concepts are the same. So for me, they’re making board games as freshmen while we explore sort of basic design concepts.
Patrick Rauland: Got it. Why do you think that is? Why do you think people are going into video games and not board games? Is there just not money in board games like there was video games?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I think primarily, right, the allure is very exciting, but the people really like eating, and having houses and that does lead them to the video game industry a great deal. I love the board game industry. That’s my world. I’m from analog design. But I would not bet my house on my ability to consistently make money in making board games. Video Games are just a whole different space and it’s a worldwide phenomenon, right? Many of my students will get their degree and go to Europe, get the degree and go to South America, you can make games anymore.
Patrick Rauland: Got it. I just find that fascinating that the digital version has taken off and I don’t know, thousands of video game developers in the world? Tens of thousands probably?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, and I mean the difference between analog and digital is increasingly going away, look at the new XCOM game, which not only has many games have an app, as an assistant or as a point tracker or something like that. This is one of the first games to just go, “No, we know you have a phone, you have to have the app to play this game.” But because of that, we can create a really powerful experience that would not otherwise be possible. Right. You’re seeing a lot of attempts to move into an AR (augmented reality) game space where, “Am I playing a board game or am I playing a video game?” I don’t know that the answer to that is useful. “Am I having fun?” Now? We’re having a conversation.
Do You Challenge the Medium Your Students Use?
Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. So are there any projects where you’re like, “Make a board game,” and people are like, “No, I want to make a video game.” Do you ever force them into a different medium than they’re used to?
Jeremy Holcomb: Oh yeah. No. Many of the students hate board, which is completely fine with me. And part of becoming a professional designer, and this is just as true in digital and analog, the difference between a professional designer and an amateur is whether or not you can make games you don’t want to play. One of the most important things that I’m trying to teach my students is, “Hey, it’s not important at the end of the day if you want to play your thing, it’s important that you understand your audience and what they need their needs are. And if you happen to fall into that, great, but you probably won’t. And they need to have a good time.” That’s a very different space. The Duke is the game that I’m the best known for and I’m totally in that game’s target audience and I totally do not want to play that game because I built it, right. I put it together and once it’s on a shelf with my name on it, I’m sort of done with it. So it’s not about my fun.
What Concepts Do You Teach?
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Love it. I mean tell us, what sort of things do you teach at a game university? I’d like to know.
Jeremy Holcomb: Sure. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And you can actually find all the course descriptions and stuff at digipen.edu. The core fundamentally is about engagement. It’s about trying to understand how to see if somebody else is having a good time with your game, with your product, with your whatever it is you’re creating, and try to measure that and try to use that to make real meaningful changes to your game. All game designers are game testers, are people who go out and ask questions and try to make games better. But learning how to ask really good playtest questions and how to measure very abstract concepts like fun, like engagement, like how invested somebody is in a particular experience is a very specific skill. And learning to do that for board games, for video games for a party, for a mall, for any kind of experience, right?
Jeremy Holcomb: If you can make a really powerful board game, you could make a really powerful website. You could make a really powerful mall kiosk, right? A lot of what we’re talking about is user experience design. Again, I’m teaching freshmen, so I’m also trying to go, “You want to be a game designer? Huh? Okay. Show me. Right. Let’s just make a lot of games.” Nobody becomes a game designer by listening to the melodious sound of my voice. You do it by making a lot of games and I help them figure out if that’s really what they want to do or perhaps put them on some other paths.
Patrick Rauland: I have no idea what game education looks like. I live in Denver. Is there probably a game school or game curriculum near in a big city like Denver or is that [inaudible 00:08:59]?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, well, it’s something that more and more schools are doing and more and more programs, both online and at physical universities, and at just afterschool programs for high schools and community college events and things at libraries. It’s becoming much, much more mainstream. I, obviously, think that DigiPen does a very good job at what we do. I’m the program director. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. But yeah, there’re lots of ways now for people to look around them and get their hands dirty with game design, with a little bit more guidance than I had when I started just to help with some of the initial bumps and I think that’s really valuable.
Patrick Rauland: So I know a lot of universities have lecture series. So here’s my real question, is that the reason I wanted to ask, is there something in Denver is, do you think it would be, is it in the realm of possibility that there is a place that does video or game design and they occasionally have lecturers that are either open to the public or for a fee that I could just, I don’t want to go back to school, but I would like-
Jeremy Holcomb: Sure, sure, sure.
Patrick Rauland: … if there’s a roaming expert and he wants, do they do that in that world?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, I would be thrilled to come out and give a tour. And yes, we do. I will be teaching over the summer in Peru and in Taipei for a couple of weeks. And yeah, there’s a sort of lecture circuit for design professors just as there’s a lecture circuit for experts in any particular field. But yeah, I mean certainly reaching out to any local university and going, “Hey, I either full-on want to audit a class, which many universities will let you do. Or I just want to come by and sit in on a couple of lectures and figure out what this stuff is.” Every school has some system for that. Some of them will be more or less interested or want you to be in this class or not that class, whatever. But if you call them up they can help you with that.
How Did You Decide on 25 Lessons in the White Box?
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. All right. So I want to talk about your White Box because that’s actually how I found you on Twitter is you made this White Box which includes a lot of cubes and zeppoles and coins and tokens. But it also includes, as you said, those 25 essays on game design. I can’t imagine, how did you whittle down all of game design to 25 lessons?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, that’s a really good question. Of course, I didn’t whittle down all of game design to 25 essays. What I tried to do was go, “Hey, I was new and I’ve spent a lot of time going to conventions and sitting on panels, going to game design contests and watching a lot of other people who are new, what is the most critical information?” I don’t want to go, “Oh, you want to be a game designer? Great. Here’s 75 textbooks that you have to read in order to start doing anything.” That’s just nonsense. Instead, I’m like, “Okay, what are the core points that are either really useful sort of best practices for how to get started or can help you avoid some very expensive mistake that lots of people make.” If the essay covered one of those two topics, it generally went in.
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I think that would be helpful. It doesn’t seem like there’s an entry point into game design, a lot of people just stumble on it. If there’s just like a 101 class or 25 essays, right, where it’s like, “If you read this you will at least have the foundation and then you can go off and learn, read all the blogs and videos and all the book groups.” But it does seem daunting at first because there just isn’t that foundation anywhere. So I think it’s really cool that you made a foundation.
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, and that’s the thing that I hope that people have access to where they go either, “Oh, game design, that sounds cool, I’m interested in that.” Or, “I have a friend who’s interested in that. This makes a great gift.” Just to kind of go, “Look, here’s what this actually entails, here’s what this work looks like and here’s what is our responsibility. Here’s what maybe is a responsibility of some of a publisher that we might work with or artist we might work with if we want to self-publish.” Right.
Jeremy Holcomb: As you mentioned yourself, there’re lots of games coming out on Kickstarter these days and I think that’s really wonderful. It’s a very powerful tool and I’m excited that people have access to it, but a lot of people think that that’s just the only way to make games. The only way to self-publish games at all. And I don’t think that’s true and I think that can lead people to some sort of dangerous spaces. Learning how to do playtesting, Learning whether or not you want to work with publishers are not, learning how much you should spend on art for your game. Pro tip, that number is zero. Every question that I got asked over and over and over again at every convention I went to went in the book.
Should You Get Art to Pitch a Publisher?
Patrick Rauland: Love it. So sorry. Can we go back to the art for a second? Is that if you’re self-publishing?
Jeremy Holcomb: No. That’s if you are trying to pitch something to a publisher or even if you are self-publishing, early on in the process when you’re still doing playtesting, when you’re still trying to figure out, you will eventually recognize, “Oh, if I’m going to publish this myself, I have to have the art,” but don’t pay for art until you know that you want to self-publish and you actually know what your game is because all the time I watched people where they’re like, “I’m going to make a game. This game is about dragons. I’m going to do some playtesting. I’m going to buy $5,000 worth of dragon art and then I play my game for a while and I can do good playtesting and I iterate it and make it better and I discover, “Oh, my game is about Max. That’s a much better story, but now I have all this dragon art that I paid for.” That’s just a loss. Right.
Jeremy Holcomb: And if instead, you go “I think my game is about dragons. I’m going to google dragons and slap in some clip art that I’m never going to be allowed to use and that is not intended to final art, but just to kind of go look, “This is the general. Oh, hey, this game is about Max. Okay, let’s try some clip art about that. Oh, I like that. Okay, cool.” And then if you’re going to, and even then, if you were going to Kickstart it, you go, “I would like to buy, I would like to pay for a nice cover and a couple of character pieces, not the full art and go, Dear Kickstarter, this is generally what I’m talking about. If you would like this, part of the funds that you are giving me is going to be used to pay an artist to do the rest of this.” But if your Kickstarter doesn’t fund, you’re out five pieces of art and not 500 pieces of art.
Patrick Rauland: Exactly. Okay. So the reason I was asking that question is because I just got four new pieces of art for my game today. Of course, I’ve already gotten to the point if I’m going to self-publish this, so. Okay. [crosstalk 00:15:29]
Jeremy Holcomb: Right, right, right, right. Then you know that ahead of time because when you’re self-publishing you essentially are the publisher and so then as a designer you’ve gone, “Oh, I love being a game designer, but I would also like to do these other five jobs.” And that’s fine. I don’t want to discourage people from doing that. I just want them to understand the thing that they’re jumping into.
Where Did The Duke Come From?
Patrick Rauland: Love it. See, there’s a part of me that feels like I’ve already gone too far and now we don’t need the 25 essays, but there’s another part of me just wants to go back and read them to make sure I didn’t miss anything obvious. Maybe I’ll put that on my Christmas list or something because I feel like I’ve come far enough where I’ve heard that advice before. But I’m sure there’s really good stuff in there that I haven’t yet heard. Okay, so why don’t to change gears a little bit, I want to talk to you about … so I actually played your game, The Duke, a couple of years ago with a friend who’s really into abstract games. How did you, I guess, what was your design process like for The Duke? Where did the idea come from? How did it take shape? All that?
Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely. I am a huge fan of working with other designers. Most of my best stuff has been done as a pair or triad with other designers. In the case of The Duke, I worked with Stephen McLaughlin, who was an absolutely brilliant designer. I think the original idea might have been his, I don’t really remember at this point. I worked with Joe Huber who had a lot of good input and we just bounced ideas off of each other for a bunch of games. We made The Duke at the same time we made Toboggans Of Doom and Timestreams and Zombie Marsh and a bunch of other stuff that we put out largely at the same time, maybe even printing them a little bit faster than we should have. But that ability, working with somebody else means, I have to explain the ideas in my head in a way that can be understood by another human.
Jeremy Holcomb: And while the idea is in my head, it’s brilliant, right? It’s happy idea land. As soon as I have to explain it to somebody else, I get to go, “Wait a minute, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. Let me refine this.” And then we bounce ideas off of each other. I love working. I worked with Brian Reece at [inaudible 00:17:42] back in the day, who I also quite respect as a designer. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is he’s very passionate and I like working with passionate people where we can go kind of offscreen.
Jeremy Holcomb: We’ll go into a back room and will scream at each other. Right. We’ll throw stuff. We’ll really try to tear into each other’s ideas. Not out of hatred or thinking that the other people are foolish. I wouldn’t be in the room if that was true, but where we’re like, we both are invested in the project and we both believe our ideas are the best way to make that game happen. So let’s try to destroy everything because whatever lives through that is pretty good. And then when we walk out of that room, we both go, “Hey, this is our idea,” And did I say it, did he say it? It doesn’t matter and I don’t even really remember because the result is a much better game.
Patrick Rauland: It’s interesting. I think the way that was coming across to me is you’re basically hypercritical, overly, overly critical of the game and then whatever is left is that is the core of the game and maybe there’s other stuff comes back and later after playtesting. But the core of the game has to survive that hypercritical phase, I guess.
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah. And we want to give each other permission to do that. We want to give everybody involved permission to do that because it’s not … this is something that every designer has to get through where I have created this brilliant work and I’ve put it out into the world and it’s my baby and I love it because it was my idea which is perfectly reasonable and normal. And then somebody is going to come along and stab it and we have to go. “Yes. Good,” right? Be critical. Give me good feedback.
Jeremy Holcomb: Here’s a great tip. Anytime you’re doing playtesting with somebody who you feel like maybe likes you, I’m going to go to my friend, who isn’t a designer and ask their opinion and they may be, you know, they don’t want to hurt my feelings or something. Tell them, “Hey, I’m helping a friend of mine test this game. This isn’t my game. This is their game. What should I tell them? How can I help them?” Because then if they go, “Well, it’s fine.” I’m like, “Well, that doesn’t give me anything to say to my friend. Give me something.” And then they’ll start to be critical. Designers will usually just lay right into it. But that’s a good way to get some data.
How Has Your Process Changed?
Patrick Rauland: Got it. I love that. Love it. So what is maybe what has changed with your process since The Duke? Have you added something to your game design process? Have you removed something? Changed something?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean it’s hard to say, of course, because I’m so close to it. I think the one thing that I try to do now that I think I’m getting better at is having more ideas quickly and figuring out how to build something that I can test quickly. Anything that I build and I can’t see where it’s going. I have a lot of ideas right now that are like, “Okay, I still love this concept, but I don’t see where it’s going.” I’m going to focus on the stuff that seems to have a real seed. And I’d rather just have 10 ideas, find one that’s good and roll with it rather than beating my head against a wall going, “I love this idea. I will make it work.” No, let’s not do that.
Patrick Rauland: So kind of letting some of your mediocre ideas go so you can focus on other ones?
Jeremy Holcomb: Even letting some of the good ideas go. So I can focus on something that I can see how to make great, or, here’s one way that my process has changed. I interface more with a more publishers and more other people in the industry. So one criteria I can do is go, “Here is a game that I know how to get it published. I know who wants this. I know where it goes, I know the kinds of things they’re looking for.” I will prioritize that over some idea that I think is cool, but I have no idea where it would go because I like money and I like putting games out to the world. And so something that’s going to do that wins over something that’s not.
Patrick Rauland: I believe you said earlier, people like eating and living in houses and that one-
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, it’s exciting.
What’s the Best Money You’ve Spent?
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So speaking of eating and living in houses, you need money to do that. Now, I’m pretty frugal with money and I think we know, we think game design is just cardboard so it should be cheap. But is there something that you’ve spent money on that is just the highest value that you could imagine?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yes, weirdly the most valuable 60 bucks I think I’ve ever spent as a game designer I used to buy dinner. And follow my logic on this. This was at a point in my life when I did not have a lot of money. So a $60 dinner was a massive splurge, right? That was a big chunk of, I could eat for quite some time on that, but that let me be in a room with Mike Selinker and James Ernest and Andy Looney and a variety of other professional board game designers just at the start of my career. And networking is even more critical in this industry than any other industry.
Jeremy Holcomb: So that 60 bucks for that dinner, I don’t even remember what I ate. I don’t remember the food at all and it’s not important, but it just gave me the opportunity to continue developing relationships with some people, all of whom are absolutely brilliant and who I respect greatly and who I’ve found over and over and over again in my career have been resources to recommend me to people or to suggest things or to help me make games better. I was sitting there going, “I don’t have the 60 bucks, I don’t have the 60 bucks, how am I going to make this … But we did it. And then I ate pancakes for a week and that was a good deal.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, eating pancakes, that sounds great. Okay. I guess I want to give people like a practical takeaway. So I went to Tabletop Network earlier this year, which is a thing, a game designers conference in Utah. I mean now that was several, I think I was like 300, I forgot, but it was like something like $300. I mean if you can afford the 300, do you think that’s, it’s along the same lines of just being able to talk to other game designers.
Jeremy Holcomb: Correct.
Patrick Rauland: Do you think you had it more? Probably more valuable than $300 on every game component ever?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yes, yes. Yeah. If for no better reason than because you can scavenge virtually every game component you want from thrift stores and such. But yeah, and going to conventions is incredibly valuable. And one of the things that has developed in the last 10 years, that I did not have when I was starting out, the unpublished, the local conventions, the 300 person events, the 1000 person events, the 5,000 person events are so valuable. You get way more of people’s attention and time. You get way more ability to show off your stuff and ask questions. If they do have people like me or other guests, then you have more ability to interface with them, which is valuable. Like Gen Con is a great show. Essen is a great show, but I would not start out there trying to figure out how any of this stuff works. And if you throw a dart into a map, there is probably an un pub near that. And that is a great use of your time and resources.
What Resources Do You Recommend?
Patrick Rauland: Love it. All right, now is there some sort of resource, let’s say not a convention that you would recommend to another indie game designer? And how about this, let’s say the first resource is the White Box, but besides the White Box, what would you recommend to an indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?
Jeremy Holcomb: Sure, absolutely. BoardGameGeek, of course, is a great resource. Partially for the information, it represents on its own, but also again from that networking standpoint where you’re like, “Oh, hey, are there playtesting groups near me? Are there other people who are making games of the kind that I’m looking at?” And I would also recommend, and almost everybody’s already doing this, but one of the most critical tools in your toolbox is your friendly local game store. Going there and working with people and going, “Hey, like can I do some playtests here? Can I help show off a game? Can I … It just keeps you involved in the industry and it’s a great resource that everybody has in their backyard. In some cases that backyard is a little bit of a commute. A friendly local game store is just such a great resource.
What Does Success Look Like?
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Now, I always like to ask people, what does success look like to you in the board game design world?
Jeremy Holcomb: That’s a great question. It’s different in different ways. It’s very satisfying the first time. We did a lot of self-publishing work and that involved, China printed a bunch of our games and then shipped it to us in a giant shipping container and standing on a dock, unloading a giant metal container full of thousands of games with your name on it is uniquely satisfying. But that actually pales in comparison. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I go to PAX West, PAX Prime all the time. They have a game lending library. I try to make sure that they always have my stuff. Every year without me promoting it, without me prompting it. I mean this was a relatively small game with a relatively small print run, but the game Toboggans Of Doom, it’s a great title. It’s a great IP, it’s a lot of fun. And at almost every PAX I have randomly stumbled upon people I don’t know, playing that game that I made and having a great time and watching other people have fun because of something I put out to the world is so satisfying.
Jeremy Holcomb: I had a dad come to me at PAX and talk to me, because I was doing a signing for The Duke, and he’s like, “This is the game I play with my kid.” Right. This is the father, son bonding game and you know, if I hadn’t made The Duke they would’ve played something else. There’re many wonderful strategy games out there. But the fact that I made something that let that interaction happen. Wow. That’s satisfying.
Patrick Rauland: I mean, just seeing people happy is one of the best things, one of the most successful feelings for you?
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, I mean I feel stuff that I have created, the world is better because it has stuff that I made in it, right? I didn’t land us on Mars, I didn’t save the whales. But at the same time like we’re all having a little bit more fun and we all have another way to talk to each other and I think that’s important.
Underrated Overrated Game
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Alright, so I like to end my show with a little game called overrated, underrated. Have you heard of it?
Jeremy Holcomb: I have not.
Patrick Rauland: Excellent. It’s great. I love throwing in new people into the grinder. So I’m going to yell out a phrase or a word or phrase like let’s say fancy microphones and then you have to say if they are overrated or underrated.
Jeremy Holcomb: Absolutely.
Patrick Rauland: Perfect. Now, the first one I’m going to make an assumption because your bio on Board Game Geek said you liked chess in high school, so I’m going to assume you were part of a chess club. Is that correct?
Jeremy Holcomb: I lettered in chess.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, my God. All right. So I think I know the answer to this one, chess club is an overrated or underrated?
Jeremy Holcomb: Overrated.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, that’s surprising to me. Why is it overrated?
Jeremy Holcomb: Because at this point I think we’re better off focusing on a single game for a club I think has a lot of danger and mistake to it. And if you want to play a lot of chess, that’s fine, but I would love to have a chess club that says strategy game club. Right? I wish I’d spent more time as a kid playing Go, a game that I’m terrible at or just being exposed to more games. Or, you can go very deep into chess, obviously, but looking sideways at some other strategy games I think would have some value to it.
Patrick Rauland: Oh cool. I just have to know how do you let her in chess, how does that happen?
Jeremy Holcomb: Well, first you have to be a nerd and then you have to develop into kind of the king of the nerds and then you have to be a weasel. And then you have to buy a letterman’s jacket and all of that stuff results in lettering in chess.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, my gosh, I love it. All right. Now, you’re in the Seattle area, so amazon.com. Overrated or underrated?
Jeremy Holcomb: Underrated. I feel weirdly the same way about Amazon that I do about the Post Office, in that it’s very difficult from the outside to understand exactly how powerfully game-changing a lot of this stuff is. The world with or the world without this is very meaningfully different and it alters a lot. I mean, certainly from a game design standpoint, thinking about the value of friendly local game stores, right? I’ve run a couple of games stores. I want to provide a good value, but I’m not competing on a pure dollars and cents standpoint. Right? You can’t, but you can add value in so many other ways involving the social dynamics and places to play and places to playtest and all of that other stuff.
Patrick Rauland: So the next one is local conventions and I’m going to exclude PAX’s because by local conventions. I mean, not the giant ones like [crosstalk 00:31:03].
Jeremy Holcomb: Correct. So if you’re in Indianapolis, Gen Con does not count as a local convention. That is not what that word means. So grossly, grossly underrated. They are some of the most valuable, again, just from that networking standpoint, right? And here I will include PAX Unplugged, which I think right now has started as a local convention in terms of size, in terms of your ability to interface with the space. It may leave that quickly. But yeah, all of the pubs, I go to Game Storm every year, which is a very, very small local convention. Dragon Flight is right in my backyard. I would not be where I am at anywhere close if I had not gone to Dragon Flight a ton as a kid. It was the only thing I could afford. I couldn’t afford to go to Gen Con, but Dragon Flight was right in my backyard. That’s how I started.
Patrick Rauland: Very, very cool. Last one I think I saw you’re writing a book on protesting, is that correct?
Jeremy Holcomb: Have written, in fact. Yes.
Patrick Rauland: All right. So protesting overrated or underrated?
Jeremy Holcomb: Grossly underrated. There needs to be a great deal more of it. I wrote a how-to book on protesting, which is actually weirdly similar to the White Box in that it’s a toolkit, right? I’m like, I don’t care what it is you’re protesting. I don’t care whether I agree or disagree with your idea. The book is called Speak Up, Speak Out And Be Heard. It’s available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold. But yeah, if you want to get out there and protest, this is how you do a protest sign. This is how you run a letter-writing campaign. This is how you run a march. It’s just some event planning stuff. It’s thinking through how to interact with the media stuff so that when people are full of energy, they don’t waste that energy because they don’t know how the system works.
Patrick Rauland: I actually really appreciate that because I sometimes find it frustrating when people will yell about something on Facebook, which ultimately doesn’t make a difference in how the world works.
Jeremy Holcomb: Right. Yep. Yep. Like if you’re angry enough to want to make change, I want to provide you the tools to at least make your case right and succeed or don’t succeed. But if we can all put our best ideas forward and all articulate why we’re angry and what we want to have happen, what the specific measurable goals are, then we at least have the ability to get to a better place. And that’s good.
Patrick Rauland: I love it. This has been very enlightening. Thanks for being on the show, Jeremy.
Jeremy Holcomb: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me.
Patrick Rauland: Where can people find you online?
Jeremy Holcomb: I don’t Tweet or blog a great deal. I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, I will be thrilled to come out, do tours, do guest lectures if people need somebody to come talk game design. Getting me to talk about game design is not a hard task.
Patrick Rauland: Thank you again. So, dear listener, if you listening to this podcast and you like it, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, Jeremy, said he would teach you your own protest chant. That seems pretty welcome. I mentioned in previous updates that I put up a landing page for my game, Fry Thief, and recently I put up some benefits of joining said newsletter. So I’ve literally, in the last week, decided that one lucky person can add their likeness to the game. So if you want to be immortalized in a game you can sign up on the landing page, which is, I think for frythief.com, which I also set up. So things are moving.
Patrick Rauland: Lastly, you can visit the site at indyboardgamedesigners.com. You can follow me on Twitter. I’m @BFTrick. B as in board games. F as in fun, and trick as in trick taking games. That is all for me, everyone. And so I just pressed the wrong button. There we go. Until next time, happy designing. Bye. Bye.
Jeremy Holcomb: Have Fun. Make games.