59 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson on Game Design

This week’s interview is with Chris Anderson, a board game designer (Blue Cube Board Games) and host of The Board Game Workshop podcast.

The board game design community is full of great people who really want designers to succeed. Shout out to the chapter of the Game Maker’s Guild based on Boston. There’s very little competition; rather, everyone wins because there are more good board games.

We experience some bonding over our love of Boston FIG and its family-friendliness.

Chris is having one of his games published with Button Shy – an indie publisher that publishes a large quantity of small games. Most of their games fall into one of three categories: wallet games (18 cards), postcard games (rules only for a game that uses standard components like dice, coins, or a standard deck of cards), and nano-games (9 cards or less). We decided that with their Game of the Month club, Button Shy probably publishes 30 or more games per year!

We ask about the game In Vino Morte (which should be available as part of the next Kickstarter from Button Shy). This was a favorite game of Anitra’s at Granite Game Summit. (See episode 42 – Granite Game Summit for more.)

Chris started The Board Game Workshop podcast because he wanted to give back to the game design community, and because he listens to a lot of podcasts. It started as an interview show and has evolved into a roundtable format with multiple designers.

“I want to design board games. Where do I start?”

  1. Read articles, watch videos, listen to podcasts on board game design.
  2. Follow the resources cited in those media to find even MORE media to read/watch/listen
  3. Just start making a game. Realize that your first game will be terrible. “You have to get that out of the way, because your next one will be better.”
  4. Never stop designing.
  5. Join (or create) a community of designers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in person. Chris is a part of several meet-ups in the Boston area, but also mentions online groups that have helped him with his designing.

Up next for Chris: His next project, titled Plutocracy 3022, is a large-scale space exploration game where no one controls the space empires, but instead players use their money/influence/etc. to build their own wealth.

His next podcast will probably be on worker-placement. Andrew and Chris discuss their shared love for worker-placement games, especially Tzolk’in.

Find Chris on twitter @BlueCubeBGs, or check out the websites for Blue Cube Board Games and The Board Game Workshop.