Ok – so who am I and why am I designing/publishing board games?
I have over 40 years of gaming experience that I bring to the table. I started playing chess with my dad when I was 4 (I remember beating him quite a few times, so either he was really terrible at chess or he was just being nice and letting me win). My father was a teacher for most of his career, but back then he was a partner at a bar in Dothan, Alabama called The Rain Barrel. They had a stand-up arcade game there called Tank (later to be known in the Atari line as Combat). I played that game until my hands cramped up and got blisters, but I mastered it. I would stand on a chair in the bar at that Tank console and defeat all comers. I was like a little mini Pinball Wizard, but with a black and white screen and a tank shoot-out.
Should a 4-year-old have been in a bar? Well I didn’t do too much drinking back then, but I did love to collect those tiny little empty liquor bottles like the kind they serve you on an airplane. My dad would make me a cherry cola using a cool little nozzle dispenser to fuel my Tank game world domination efforts so I have no complaints. At 4 I already had my own bb gun and machete and since we were living on a farm, I would just wander off and go rattle-snake and/or arrow-head hunting, frequently returning with one or the other as a trophy.
When I was 5 years old my parents bought me a Pong video game from Sears and I sat entranced with those 2 white lines and that cruel 8-bit white dot that would careen back and forth between them. My parents had just found an electronic drug that would keep me out of trouble at home for hours on end. Eventually the drug of choice moved on to Atari and then to Nintendo.
In 1992, at a Christmas party, I met my amazing wife Ingrid, and have been with her ever since. She has several degrees including a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. We lived in Seattle for 2 years during the 90’s and I worked various jobs such as forklift driver and quality control inspector in an electronics warehouse while supporting her time at the UW. Ingrid is currently working as a Senior Systems Engineer at deciBel Research here in Huntsville after spending many years with companies such as Raytheon, SAIC, Dynetics, etc. There is some debate as to whether Ingrid is smarter than I am. Everyone who has ever met both of us says it’s her. I say it’s me. I guess we will have to let history decide since the voting results are so even.
I absolutely loved the Pacific Northwest area, other than the fact that it drizzles nearly non-stop for 9 months out of every year. Oh but those summer months were amazing! I had a blast going to Pike Place Market, eating lunch on top of the Space Needle, and going hiking on Mount Rainier (the irony of that name JUST hit me after all these years … lol).
I was in on the Beta of World of Warcraft and played it an average of 6 hours a day for five or six years. I had to give up computer gaming when my twin daughters were born though, in order to be a good dad and be present in their lives. I had to go cold-turkey because I have an obsessive personality with things like that and I can’t stand to just casually play them, I have to master them. I couldn’t just casually play WoW and I knew it. I probably played the least board games of my life during the WoW period, although I still had a group that would meet a couple of times a month and play various titles.
I graduated with a degree in Business from the University of Alabama (M.I.S. program) and moved to Colorado where I lived for 8 years while working for IBM. For most of that time I was what was then called a Tower Project Manager. I managed the relationships between HUGE clients like IBM Global Services, the State of California, US-Canada Customs, etc. IBM Global Services had a revenue stream of more than $30 Billion dollars per year. Running meetings and change control boards and coordinating massive multi-country teleconferences was fun at first, but eventually became very stressful.
Next, we moved from Colorado to Florida where our twin daughters were born. I’ll always remember that year as being very soothing interlude and a huge change from the blizzards of Colorado. We rented a place right across the street from the ocean and I would, while working from home, frequently take my business calls on my cell phone and wander over to lay on the beach while participating in a meeting. The crashing of the waves on a beach has almost magical properties for me and I would find myself in a Zen-like state approximating transcendental meditation. I am not sure I always gave 100% during those ocean-side conference calls, but oh well. I would love to live by the beach again at some later point in my life.
After what felt like entirely too short a time, we moved back to Alabama, but to the Huntsville area instead of Tuscaloosa. We had to get back into proximity of both of our families so that our kids could visit with their Grandparents and cousins. I left IBM and did a stint working for Dell and Boeing doing some asset management in the IT department, but decided to retire so that I could be with my kids full time and start a new adventure – Homeschool. My kids are by far the most important thing in my life, and to get the chance to be with them and spend more time with them and guide their learning process was something I just couldn’t pass up.
While retired, I discovered that I had some spare time on my hands again. I started meeting with the Huntsville Gamers board game group and made some new and amazing friends. After several years of hard-core board gaming, I started up a board game design/publishing company with some of my old friends from Tuscaloosa – Druid City Games. After two successful Kickstarter projects, I have left Druid City Games and have formed Seventh Son Games, where I have big plans for the future!
My current prototype, which I hope to launch on Kickstarter in 1st/2nd Quarter 2018, has a working title of The Light and Darkness War. I plan to talk about the design process as a recurring topic in the Blog section and share the things I learn while working through the process. Hopefully my experiences can help others who are thinking about or in the process of creating/publishing their own games.
For me this is a dream come true and I have wanted to start my own business and design my own games for pretty much my whole life. There are so many great people in this industry and nearly every person I have encountered so far has been willing to share tips and lessons to help others succeed. I plan to continue that tradition.