Kathryn Hymes

#45 – Kathryn Hymes

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers Podcast where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week. 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 Kathryn Hymes who is one of the founders of Thorny Games which makes games about language and crytography. She is also the cohost on a different … Hold on, The Game Design Round Table Podcast. I hope I got that right. Yeah. You have some awesome games that you've recently put out that I want to talk about. So Kathryn, welcome to the show.

Kathryn Hymes: Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.

Patrick Rauland: Did I get your podcast name right because I should have written that down and I didn't.

Kathryn Hymes: No. You totally did. We also use a long acronym, TGDRT, but The Game Designer Round Table Podcast.


Patrick Rauland: The TGDRT, there we go. I like it. I love to start with a little game just to sort of get … because I know who you are because I clicked through your website, well, I know who you are. I know more about you than the audience does because I've clicked through your website and done a little bit of research. But I want the audience to get to know you. If I met you at a convention, what is a game you would play every single time?

Kathryn Hymes: I think usually my go to, especially at a convention is one you can really get like an epic session in. I love, love Twilight Struggle. It's just this battle for the world, the particular history of the Soviet Union versus the US. It is strangely timely right now, card driven, that's just a fantastic game.

Patrick Rauland: I love it. Since you do a lot of stuff with language, what is the silliest word in the English language?

Kathryn Hymes: Only one? You can't [crosstalk 00:01:58] So hard. Basically made up words are the silliest and the most wonderful. We're constantly making them up, so like some of the classics from Lewis Caroll are my favorite, galumph, which is moving around very clumsily. Fragiss, I've already violated your only one.

Patrick Rauland: No it's fine.

Kathryn Hymes: [crosstalk 00:02:21]

Patrick Rauland: I love it. An RPG, a board game and a video game get into a bar fight, who wins?

Kathryn Hymes: Oh. I think you combine them together and make it a LARP. Then LARP wins.

Patrick Rauland: They all merge?

Kathryn Hymes: They all merge. It is a new format.

How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: All right. First of all, the first real question is how did you get into, normally, I say board game design but in your case board games as well as role playing games and the design behind those.

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah, gosh where do I start? Board games is something that I really got deeply into, I'd say, over the last decade. I started playing with friends because it was one of the few things that you could do kind of in real world meet space where it's like, hey, we're students, we're poor, but we want to spend time together in a more structured playful way, so let's Settler's of Catan since that seems to be the new hotness of the day. Then, that just snowballed to where at some point I went to my first Gen Con.

Kathryn Hymes: Then, once you go to Gen Con, I feel like you have crossed some threshold by which there is no return. Then, I have since followed that rabbit hole and find myself deeper and deeper every day. For roleplaying games, actually I was a player of role playing games from the time I was little. I played old-time Star Wars and DND with my classmates back in the day but then got really drawn back into it from an awesome community that meets at game conventions all over the country but has a particularly really rich set of folks that is called Indie Games on Demand at Gen Con.

Kathryn Hymes: They play a lot of modern in deep tabletop role playing games. So lots of games that have been designed in the post-Dungeons and Dragons world. Once I really got in with that crowd, I made friends, I actually saw that … There's this whole creative side of myself that though I absolutely loved board games at the time wasn't a part of my experience of being a gamer and I just wanted to explore that more.

Patrick Rauland: That's a lot of stuff. That's a pretty good back story. I love that Gen Con is like the sort of gateway con, I guess.

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah, especially, I'm based in the West Coast. I think there is just many small motions that you have to make when you finally actually get on an airplane and go to this convention that has, at that time, had been built up in my mind as the epicenter of all that is gaming. Then, when you find yourself there among hordes and hordes of people just consuming as many games as possible within the short weekend span, then you are sold. That is who you are.

What's Your Favorite Game That You Designed?

Patrick Rauland: One of the things I like to ask, and not a lot of game designers want to talk about is what is the favorite game you designed?

Kathryn Hymes: A favorite game that I designed, I co-designed as part of Thorny Games is one that we just recently published fully. It is really a love child of so much efforts as well as just passions that have predated my time in games. It's a game called Dialect. Dialect is a tabletop role-playing game about building a language for an isolated community. You see the story of what happens this isolated community as you build their dialects at the table. It's in part a love letter to endangered languages. I studied linguistics in school as well as math.

Kathryn Hymes: I'm actually kind of exploring those topics through a game design. It's something that comes natural. I think that when you're passionate about something, it just kind of comes out of you like from every pore without being able to help it. That game is particularly dear to me, one, because of the kind of great effort it took to really bring it into reality but also just that it is dealing with topics that have always been really into net.

Patrick Rauland: I loved it. I was just looking at Dialect on Kickstarter well and by just I mean like a week or two ago, but you raised almost like $200,000 and 4000 backers. One of the things I just wanted to point out was, I guess, I follow a lot of boardgame Kickstarters and a lot of them get like 400 to 800 backers, and then they succeed and then they go on from there, but they only get 400 to 800 where you actually got into the thousands here.

Why Are Games About Language So Popular?

Patrick Rauland: What do you think … I talk to a lot of other game people who they make games about goblins and werewolves and all that stuff. What do you think it is about a game about language, Dialect, specifically how a language dies that makes them so popular?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. That's a question I'm definitely […] on for a while. I think part of it really is the specificity of the theme and topic and fact that language is really something that a lot of people are passionate about and so I think that though there are many games that deal with like these kind of tried-and-true [inaudible 00:08:05] boardgames and those are tons of fun right like I need my gaming space. I need my game with zombies. I got to have some Cthulhu.

Kathryn Hymes: After a while, it's really hard to differentiate yourself if that is the only topic that you're treading yet again. I think that what this game was able to do is that, one, it could really tap into a passion that a lot of people have but that isn't really well served by standard the available games today. Then, on top of that, it was something that we, as game makers at Thorny Games, could really uniquely represent because it's something that is very dear and close to our hearts and backgrounds. Then, it also is a game that is really focused on story and kind of a different sort of curated experience that you can have at the table like in playing Dialects, you are like exploring the very beginnings of kind of constructing your own dialect and playing with language.

Kathryn Hymes: Though, again, that's maybe not everyone's jam. For some people, that is their perfect jam. When you make a product that I think when someone sees it, it almost feels like this was a game particularly made for them. They get really passionate about it. They want to tell their friends about it. It becomes part of their identity.

Kathryn Hymes: I think tapping into like games as a way of like connecting you with other people who feel really strongly about what that game is all about means that you get some really a passionate folks that want to support you.

How Much of the Crowd Did You Bring With You?

Patrick Rauland: I guess a question I have is did random people who don't know you at all but like they saw it on Kickstarter like was this a lot of like people that are in your community and you've done a lot of marketing and you brought them with you or of these 4000 were like 3500 of them from Kickstarter and just saw it on Kickstarter like this seems cool and they press the pledge button.

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. The vast majority of these people are folks that had absolutely no connection going to us into this. We did do our homework in the sense that prior to actually launching a Kickstarter, we had mailing lists and a number of conventions, made sure that folks who are known in at least this fear of modern tabletop role-playing games had played the game.

Kathryn Hymes: We also got a number of people to help rate additional settings for it. It had a base there, but I'd say, really, it was a combination of word-of-mouth additional distribution that came from Kickstarter. It was lucky enough to be chosen as the project of the day at some point but really a lot of word of mouth from people. We're sharing things on Facebook and we're sharing it with other groups who they felt like were really going to be passionate about the subject.

What Inspired You To Make Sign?

Sign Box Art
A Game About Being Understood

Patrick Rauland: I love it. The game I really want to talk about is Sign. I think the reason I'm … When I saw this, I was like, “This seems from … Oh yeah.” I kind of remembered. I want to say I heard about this. This is about it or at least it's based on the School for the Deaf in Nicaragua and I want to say there was an episode about this on a Radio Lab like eight years ago or something. I love that you took this, I'm going to call it a, historic moment where like basically in Nicaragua, they didn't have any education for the deaf people. They brought them all together in one school and then basically all those people needed a way to communicate, and there was no language. They just invented one which I just think is the coolest story.

Patrick Rauland: I love that you made a game about it. Can you tell us about the inspiration or what was your goal around creating a game around this specific moment?

Kathryn Hymes: Totally. Yeah. In part, I think that [inaudible 00:12:06] is really what led to this game which like it's a magnificent story of just like what humans are capable of and like a seed that is true within each of us of these children really, so like the historical moment is, as you said, children being brought together for the first time in the 1970s, like the very first speakers of this language are alive today.

Kathryn Hymes: In the 1970s brought together not having any form of communication and through like the natural course of just wanting to play with one another on the playgrounds kind of under the noses of all of the formal education and their teachers, they just created a language of their own that then was taught from grade to grade and morphed and changed and now is actually the basis for the standardized sign language with Nicaragua.

Kathryn Hymes: It's an amazing story. I was really drawn to that story because, one, it is true and it's honoring a story that is really about language and connection through language but that is rooted in play. If there's anything that I think Thorny Games or game company really focuses on, it's just how to tell really interesting stories about people with language as a lens, and this couldn't be a better one.

Patrick Rauland: I love it. It was cool because I heard this on Radio Lab years ago and then I saw your game and I had to like basically where you listen to part of the story. It's a very cool moment. It seems like you and Dirk kind of have that in common who, listeners, was a previous guest probably an episode or two before this, but it seems like you and Dirk have in common where you like to bring out historical moments. Is that a West Coast thing or …

Kathryn Hymes: I wonder. I love seeing the trends in game design when it comes to like geography. I know that there are like particular trends at least in like the modern tabletop role-playing where there's like a Cascadia way of playing and designing for folks who are in the Pacific Northwest and then like a different way of thinking about like the New York group and this kind of thing.

Kathryn Hymes: I think I'm part of a San Francisco Silicon Valley group where there is a really fertile set of game designers here and opportunities to get into play and we're still trying to articulate what is it about us that makes us different. The only thing that we can really come up with is that a lot of us have connections to technology. A lot of the ways that people would build technology inform the way that we think about play testing but the subjects that we choose are so vastly different that it's hard to kind of drop between them.

Kathryn Hymes: I think looking at history is like such an awesome thing to do because, one, it is telling something that is true and that has happened about us and making it real because you are then empathizing and sympathizing with it by like reenacting that moment, but also it just kind of gives a really interesting alibi to say they are to make people thoughtful about moments that are true today or things that could be true about their lives today but that are removed enough to allow them to kind of approach the experience very open-mindedly.

What's Something You Couldn't Fit In Your Game?

Patrick Rauland: I love it. Tell me about, I guess, I'm curious about the things that you've tried and maybe the things that haven't worked. Is there like a white whale of game design that you've tried to put into games but you just can't get it in there?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. I'm determined to make it work at some point, but I love really small games that I'm just kind of grabbed and plan to go things like Love Letter or two. There really needs to be some fantastic, I think, role-playing equivalents of those. I'm really excited to work on something that helps to kind of tap into bridging the gap between like light awesome. I have 20 minutes' worth of play in the role-playing or gaming and make that an approachable role-playing game.

Kathryn Hymes: I think there are some good contenders that are coming up that I'm really excited for, but I feel like if someone were really able to crack this net, it would just open up like this story gaming to a whole new set of people. I think especially too like I love the game. I really am looking forward to games that teach you how to do things where it's really fun. Then, you take away a skill afterwards. One particular skill that is more in service of role-playing games in general is just a game that will really help to coach you through jamming for the first time.

Kathryn Hymes: I feel like there's so much opportunity in a game like Sherlock Holmes consulting detective or some of these more story-oriented board games where there is like a story at the core and you can see where there's sort of game master like elements that other parts of the play experience but that no one is fully leaning into yet. I think that there's a lot of opportunity there.

Patrick Rauland: You mentioned something earlier about sort of like a light RPG or a game to get you into RPGs and that they just made me think it seems like most RPGs to get in like a good session, you need like I'm going to say four to six hours but also maybe four to eight or I guess that's my background playing Dungeons and Dragons or whatever. It takes a long time to tell a good story versus a board game which I'd say many of them are around an hour or an hour, an hour to three hours for the vast majority and very few go beyond that.

Why Don't We Have 20 Minute Role Playing Game?

Patrick Rauland: I guess maybe why do you think it takes so long to tell a story like how come we don't have more shorter storytelling games?

Kathryn Hymes: It's a great question. One, we should because I think that with the proper support, you can do it, and I think it should be done. I think in part some of this is a just a relic of like the models that different kinds of role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons that they incentivize where you go really, really deep into various sessions. You think about having a legacy like play where you're actually playing session after session. That really incentivizes just much longer experiences. You go deeper into the game. The game gives more appeal.

Kathryn Hymes: Also, I think that a lot of conventions think about role-playing games within four to six hour slots. A lot of games are designed to work within that time frame, but I think there are more and more role-playing games especially like modern in the tabletop RPG that are really designed for these smaller moments when you only have an hour or two to play. A lot of them are one-shots, but there are still really great experiences, and I think that especially for you have to be honest about what kind of gaming your life has time for and that ends up dominating just kind of defining the kind of gamer that you are when you think about what you actually are playing. If that is broken down more into 30 minutes to two-hour spots, then, we should really find better games that can do that.

Patrick Rauland: This, for me, is fascinating because I actually love role-playing games, and I think I've played one in the last two years like one session and part of that is because of the time commitment and like lots of friends are still playing RPGs. They still invite me but I just can't … Like, guys, I can't commit to like eight hours on a Saturday for the next six months. I had a question. Here's the question.

Why Don't Stories Work in Board Games?

Patrick Rauland: I guess here's what my brain wants right now. My brain is like why can't we have a board game with cool story elements like why are those so hard to smoosh together? Can we work towards that where there is the board games, maybe the board games state and then you can still have stories based off what's on the board game? Is that possible to combine these two or am I just wanting something that's impossible?

Kathryn Hymes: No. I don't think you are wanting something that is impossible and I hope that that more and more people explore that kind of thing. I know certain games have tried, but I think that like a real satisfying game that do that is still out there.

Patrick Rauland: Just curious, have you played Gloomhaven?

Kathryn Hymes: I have.

Patrick Rauland: How would you rate that in terms of like if it's just because that's probably the closest thing in my brain as something that combines elements of both tabletop and board games and RPGs? If you could like break this down into like percentages, is it like 50% board game, 50% RPG? Is it like 90% one or the other? How would you sort of break that down?

Kathryn Hymes: That's a good question. Off the top of my head, it really strikes me as being more board-gamey than the story game. I think part of that is just when you naturally have competition that's in a game, it ends up creating weird incentives that sometimes just aren't in service of story. I think that finding something that really honors the experience of people at the table rather than just the outcome while still like being rooted in some kind of satisfying board game mechanics can be a better foundation for an experience.

Kathryn Hymes: When I think about games that at least for me where I leave feeling like I've had an incredible story that came out of them, the board gaming itself is more secondary. I'm good with that because I am really comfortable playing in that way. It's really just about like getting into a character and like co-creating with a set of people who are either at the table or who are with me online, but, often times, that means having to subvert some of the more board gaming-type elements.

What's The Best Purchase You Made?

Patrick Rauland: One of the things I like to ask everyone is, basically, I'm a frugal person. I try not to spend money when I don't have to. What is something that's been totally worth your money to help you design, make, or produce or market games?

Kathryn Hymes: That is a great question. I would say has money ever spent as a game designer. What first comes to mind for me is …

Patrick Rauland: I stumped you.

Kathryn Hymes: I did. I'm trying to think. I think what comes to mind first is a gift actually that we receive at some point which is just a box full of different colored cubes. As anyone knows, there's just so much that you can do with cubes. I think that what is awesome about this is that like there are cubes of the same color and size. It was really just kind of a starter pack.

Kathryn Hymes: We're thinking about prototyping. When you have cubes like this, you know that it really gets you into the mind of being okay with exploring ideas before they're really fleshed out. You can like put a couple of cubes there and see what happens or try and like develop some mechanic for sharing or an economy and like it has this one difference in cubes and that they are different colors. You have one potential like vector of differentiation but, otherwise, it's just wooden tubes in a box, and they have been repeatedly useful.

Kathryn Hymes: I'm trying to think if there's anything else. The other thing that I would say terms of best money, and this isn't even money spent. It's just I'm getting a like finding the community that you feel really good in when it comes to games and then finding a way to connect with that community. I know that Google+ is sadly going away of the dinosaur. That was one of the ways that I was able to really connect with early indie tabletop RPG designers who then wanted to have interesting discussions and support new excited designers. It was really a place where we could all meet granted I think that for anyone like interests, there's going to be a place for that.

Kathryn Hymes: I know [inaudible 00:24:47] sometimes that for other people maybe it's Tumblr. Maybe it's Twitter, but like whatever helps you to find your medium. Both of these ended up being free for us except for the technology it takes to do that and the friendships it takes to get [inaudible 00:25:02]. Those are the best tools that come to mind right now.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. I was going to say, technically, a gift isn't money spent but I got the gist of what you're going for here. I've seen some like starter kits on Amazon that are, I want to say, like 10 bucks and you get like a bajillion cubes. There's some pretty affordable stuff out there.

Patrick Rauland: One of my fascinating things is community. One of the things that fascinates me is community because is this a ephemeral thing that all humans want, and it seems really hard to get and to sustain. You live in the Bay Area, right?

Kathryn Hymes: I do.

Would You Prefer Online to In Person Meetups?

Patrick Rauland: For someone who's not in like that's obviously a super connected part of the world, for someone who's in the less connected parts like do you recommend going on Google+ or would you recommend driving 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes to a bigger city where there might be some people hanging out at a game store? Would you rather people go towards the online world or the physical … Would you call it meatspace?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. Both are possible, but I'm really excited. I mean obviously, I really do love hanging out with people in person but, I am really excited about the possibility of just people from all over the world being able to connect with each other, and then do all sorts of gaming like on rule 20, like that is an incredible resource where people can play role-playing games online together and then be in far-flung places that are far away from cities or they're meeting with their friends, but it really is in a more convenient spot for their lives where they're able to fit in an hour of gaming that otherwise they wouldn't be.

Kathryn Hymes: Really thinking about and also what's it saying there it's just thinking about the different tools that then can support that kind of play and maybe there's like a particular style of play that will naturally come out of the Google Hangouts, Roll20, or twitch versions of playing role-playing games online that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Kathryn Hymes: I think that there is a ton of potential there. I know some people that are really excited by the idea of LARK and LARP in a virtual space where you are connected through something like Google Hangouts but then are still acting out whatever part of this live-action game is which again helps to connect people that otherwise wouldn't be able to.

What One Resource Would You Recommend?

Patrick Rauland: For the next question, I always ask people what is one resource you'd recommend, but I think I'm going to exclude community, so not community-related. What other resource would you recommend to someone just getting started?

Kathryn Hymes: Something to organize your work and your thinking, for me, I'm a person that like I really think well in Docs. Google Docs is really a nice way for me to organize my thoughts and information especially when I have Aaron's ideas being able to really feel like I could just brainstorm inside a space that then I can go back to later and easily find. That's a big one.

Kathryn Hymes: The other thing I would say is that like the biggest challenge and actually making a game is keeping yourself honest and doing it repeatedly. You get these bouts of inspiration, and they will come and then they will go. The way that a game actually gets made and published is by continually forcing yourself to get into that place. Some kind of accountability software can be a difference between a game being made or not.

Kathryn Hymes: I personally use Slack a lot for this. Slack has ways of reminding yourself to do things. That for me is really helps just keep me honest to work that I feel like I need to do and actually like have everything kind of centralized so that I know like what stage your game is in.

Patrick Rauland: That's interesting you Slack for that. I mean to me, Slack is … I use it a lot for work just to communicate with different members on a team, but for me, it's like a communication tool. It's cool you use all the reminder features. I haven't really chatted to anyone that uses those extensively.

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. I should say in full disclosure and I also work at Slack separately so … I am biased here.

Patrick Rauland: That's funny.

Kathryn Hymes: It works for me.

Any Insider Tips From Slack?

Patrick Rauland: That's funny. Quick question for you. I should have looked this up but I didn't know you worked at Slack ahead of time. I am in too many Slack channels, or not channels, too many slack teams. I'm in about 10 right now. Most of them are work-related, not game-related. How do I manage that? Do I have to say no more often and just not join a team or are there better … When people are asking you to join all these communities, do you do that or do you … because they're hard to manage and follow, right?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. Absolutely. I have that struggle myself too and I think that and … One thing that helps is just notification settings like you're able to actually indicate whether or not like this is a team that you really want to be notified for when there's anything new or if this is something that you really just want to pull yourself to rather than be pushed towards and then just being honest about that, but it's just a similar struggle with like the information density that we live in today, information is coming at us from all directions. We all need coping mechanism.

What Does Success Look Like To You?

Patrick Rauland: All right. My favorite question what does success look like to you? Do you want to quit your day job and writes RPGs all day? Do you want to invent your own language like what is your definition of success here?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. I would like to continue to put out games that feel like that they're the right game for me personally to make so that they're saying a statement or dealing with the topic that is really important to me and then also then grow an audience around them. I love the idea of a game, a piece of art, something like that, actually itself being sort of the Nexus for a community or a part of someone's identity.

Kathryn Hymes: I think that that's true for other important pieces of media like I'm the kind of person that likes Star Trek or Star Wars or whatever it may be. Everyone has their favorite book, but the idea that like a bunch of people could come to games that we make at Thorny Games and feel like that by playing them or by being associated with them, it's really expressing a part of their identity that otherwise was unspoken. That to me seems really cool especially if we could connect those people together.

Patrick Rauland: That seems amazing. Yeah. I'm thinking of like Harley Davidson where it's like an identity not just a machine like you want to have that level of passion for your products.

Kathryn Hymes: [crosstalk 00:32:17].

Patrick Rauland: Hold on. There's one other thing I just popped into my brain and it's gone. I was going to say the other thing … If I could almost rephrase what success looks like to you, the first part of that sounded like personal growth like using game design as a way to express yourself and bring something to the world but also to express what's true for you in the moment. Was that kind of a fair summary?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah. I love that summary and just the idea of … I mean I think that I look at games as a type of arts. As much as that may turn off some people, I really believe it's true, and I think a good piece of art is challenging as well as defining and/or attractive or fun or any of those kinds of things. A game that helps you learn more about yourself or helps you change yourself in some way that you want to change would be a pretty amazing.

Overrated Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland: I love it. The last question I want to ask you is, well, it's really a game. It's called Overrated Underrated. Have you ever played it?

Kathryn Hymes: I don’t think I have. [crosstalk 00:33:24]

Patrick Rauland: Basically, I'm going to give you a word or a phrase and you need to tell me if it's overrated or underrated. If I said traffic, you're going to be like way too rated or it's too highly rated. It's the worst thing on the planet, something like that. Cool. I'm going to say the first one, story-driven board games like Mice and Mystics, overrated or underrated.

Kathryn Hymes: I'm torn here. I guess I will say underrated, but I feel like that I'm really looking for almost the board game-driven story games as what should be truly underrated and [crosstalk 00:34:05].

Patrick Rauland: Hosting your own podcast, overrated or underrated?

Kathryn Hymes: For this, I would say part of this is overrated just in the sense that there's a work that comes with actually hosting a podcast. For instance, there are great … As you very well know, I'm scheduling these kinds of things, and I am so happy with the product but in choosing overrated versus underrated, that's the one that immediately comes to mind in this honest moment.

Patrick Rauland: I love it. I'm trying to read what I wrote. I wrote this as a how to get started like booklets instead of a rules book. By that, I mean like a game instead of forcing you to read like the seven-page rules book, there's like a two-page read this for your first game book. Does that make sense?

Kathryn Hymes: Yeah, totally. That is underrated. I love the idea of having better onboarding for people that are like just trying to get to the gameplay or games themselves where you're playing and learning at the same time. There's a game that's upcoming that I'm really excited about called Silver and White by Jackson Tegu that I think does this so beautifully.

Kathryn Hymes: I'm really excited for it and if other people are excited for it, they should [crosstalk 00:35:27].

Patrick Rauland: What's it called again?

Kathryn Hymes: Silver and White.

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Actually, I have a follow-up. I realize this is not the time for follow ups, and I'm breaking my own rules, but I'm hosting the podcast. This is an underrated part of that. What about games that are so technically complicated that there's like … I'm thinking Magic the Gathering here. We're like the main Magic the Gathering rule book is like 20 pages but then for tournaments and you need to know every edge case, it's like 100 pages.

Patrick Rauland: What about games? Does that make sense like how do you … Is it better to have like the short version and people can usually just figure out those weird edge cases on their own or is it better to have the 100-page rulebook for tournaments and tournament people need it?

Kathryn Hymes: I think it's for each their own and it really depends on what the goals are for a particular game like there are certain games like Magic or Net Runner, or some of these other games that are … they're detailed in their rules. In doing that, they really allow you to explore volumes and like gain a level of mastery that I think that they're trying to encourage in people. I think that that's what's attractive in part about the game especially when you get into competitive play.

Kathryn Hymes: Then, there are other games that are meant to be more immediately approachable. I think sometimes it can be frustrating when you force a game that is really designed to be one thing to be another. Sometimes, those experiences can be lacking, but really just being clear about what the ultimate goal is, what you're trying to do, and making sure that you communicate that to the people who are looking to play.

Patrick Rauland: Cool. The last real question is what about the languages in Game of Thrones? Are they overrated or underrated?

Kathryn Hymes: Underrated. Those are great. David Peterson is wonderful.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: I really like him. Thank you for being on the show, Kathryn.

Kathryn Hymes: Thank you for having me.

Patrick Rauland: That's good. Where can people find you online?

Kathryn Hymes: I am available as part of Thorny Games at ThornyGames.com where you can find more about what we do and our games. Then, I'm also on Twitter with the easily findable handle @chicalashaw which is name that I was known by when I was very young and for sentimental reasons.

Patrick Rauland: How do you spell that?

Kathryn Hymes: C-H-I-C-A-L-A-S-H-A.

Patrick Rauland: Okay. Cool.

Kathryn Hymes: Also, you can find me at Kathryn Hymes which is my property.

Patrick Rauland: Thank you again. Dear listeners, if you like this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you found this podcast. Normally, I run these by the guests and I forgot to run this by Kathryn so I'm going to say it and hopefully she's okay with this. I'll have to redact myself live if not. If you leave a review, Kath will be happy to make you an NPC in one of our upcoming role-playing adventures. Does that sound reasonable, Kathryn?

Kathryn Hymes: [crosstalk 00:38:38].

Patrick Rauland: You can visit the site at indieboardgamedesigners.com. 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 think that's all I got, guys. Thank you so much and until next time. Happy designing.

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