Board games are breaking into the mainstream more and more, but there are still relatively few non-fiction books that look at the hobby. In the past we’ve covered etiquette manuals and photo books, but a new project by Erin Dean has really piqued our interest. She has spent the last several months talking to designers to get the inside stories behind the games that we love. Why did they make the decisions they did? What obstacles did they face along the way? What advice would they have for young designers? Her book, For the Love of Board Games features interviews with some of the most influential people in the hobby. We recently got a chance to talk to Erin about the project.
DWP: Tell us a little about your background.
ED: For as long as I can remember, I have always been making videos. I directed my first video, “Super Guy” in kindergarten, which my dad filmed with our family camcorder. My first “video camera” was a cardboard box, with two holes on each end and a duck tape strap, that a candle had come in. That “video camera” inspired the name of my freelance business, Candlebox Films. In 2018, I graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a Video Production degree. I now work at Unbridled Media in St. Louis as their Project Coordinator.
DWP: How did you first develop an interest in board games?
ED: As a kid, I played the traditional mass market games, like Monopoly, Life, and Candyland, with my friends and family. In high school, an aunt of mine gave me Ticket to Ride for Christmas. From then on, I was entranced with the modern board game hobby. After five years of collecting board games, I currently have over 120 games in my collection.
DWP: What sparked the idea for this book project?
ED: It had been about a year since I released my documentary, The Board Game Boom on YouTube and I wanted to start another passion project relating to the hobby. I thought it would be fun to write a book about board games so I reached out to Reddit and Board Game Geek to get the community’s ideas. Many wanted to learn more about the designers behind their favourite games so I decided to write a book focusing on that topic.
DWP: How long have you been working on this project?
ED: I came up with the idea to write a book in February 2018 and I have been working on it diligently since then.
DWP: Did it involve a lot of travel, or were you able to connect remotely?
ED: Luckily, I was able to conduct all the interviews via Skype and email. The designers I interviewed are located all around the world so it would have been difficult to reach them all without the Internet.
DWP: Which designers were you able to talk to for the book?
ED: Some of the game designers that will be featured in my book include: Jamey Stegmaier (Scythe, Viticulture), Bruno Cathala (Five Tribes, Kingdomino), Matt Leacock (Pandemic), Reiner Knizia (Tigris & Euphrates, Lost Cities), and many others. You can find the full list of designers that will be featured in my book on my book’s Facebook page.
DWP: Was it hard to get in contact with the designers?
ED: Some of designers I interviewed were hard to track down and required me to do some digging, but most of them I was able to get in contact with them easily via Board Game Geek.
DWP: What was the most surprising story you heard from a designer?
ED: One of the most surprising stories I heard from a designer was Evan Derrick’s inspiration behind his board game, Detective: City of Angels, which was on Kickstarter in late 2017. While eating at a restaurant, Evan’s wife’s car got broken into and her bag with all of her art sketches was stolen. His wife was really upset about her stolen sketchbook so Evan decided he was going to find her bag. He got into the mind of a robber and went searching for the bag while thinking the entire time, “What would a robber do?” or “Where would the robber go next?” He eventually found his wife’s bag in an alley and he later decided that he wanted to design a game that made you feel like a detective, which eventually lead to him designing Detective: City of Angels.
DWP: Do you think we give enough credit and recognition to the people behind the games we love?
ED: Sometimes I feel that people just play board games without realizing how much work went into designing and creating the game. I do believe we need to give more recognition to the designers behind some of our favourite board games. What I have found with writing For the Love of Board Games is that board game designers are super friendly. If you really enjoy a specific game, look up its designer and send them a message on Board Game Geek thanking them for designing the game you love.
DWP: Would you be interested in another book based on board games? If so, what would you focus on?
ED: I am definitely interested in writing another book related to board games. The book I’m currently writing could easily be a series. For example, my next book could solely focus on board game artists. There is a lot of potential for future books, but I’m excited to see how For the Love of Board Games does first.
DWP: When will For the Love of Board Games available and how can people find out more about the book?
ED: The Kickstarter campaign for my book will launch in July. To stay updated on this project, I encourage readers to join our Facebook group by searching, For the Love of Board Games – Book on Facebook.