Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers. Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before. If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.
Interviewed on: 08/23/16
Sina Hirsch has been playing games for over 30 years, but is relatively new to game design and already has a game coming to Kickstarter very soon. Hunting Sasquatch is coming to Kickstarter in November, via publisher SpyGlass Games. Be sure to check it out, and keep your eye on Sina to see what other awesome games she comes up with in the future.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
It's fun, and there are so many ideas to play with in regards to game creation. It just seemed a normal evolution. It's a great way to take the weird and fantastical ideas in my head and share them with people.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, but the future looks bright!
What is your day job?
Acting and Voice Coach, with an emphasis in Improvisational Acting
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
At home or at a friend's home. Gaming is a great way to spend time with people who share your interests. I also like to teach my children new games as well.
Who do you normally game with?
Friends and family.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
That's a tough question. It depends on which friends, and the mood we're in. My group likes one-off RPGs a lot of the time. Some of our tried and true standards would be Betrayal at House on the Hill, Elder Sign, Venom Assault and, of course, Hunting Sasquatch.
And what snacks would you eat?
We're a big fan of nachos, but usually if snacks of any kind are brought out, they will definitely be eaten by someone. Everyone loves munchies during a game!
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Sometimes. Again, it depends on the game. Movie soundtracks such as Aliens, Star Wars, etc., are always great background when playing games.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
My new favorite is Rogue's Roost in Loveland, CO. They rock! They also sell vintage D & D manuals, which is totally and completely AWESOME!!
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I really do love Elder Sign. It plays quickly, and the co-op aspect really can make a game exciting, depending on the characters chosen. My least favorite game that will still play in a pinch would probably be Lords of Water Deep. The concept and theme are fantastic, but games that take more than an hour tend to be tedious for me. I like action and excitement. The worst game I have ever played....that would be the game Sorry. No strategy, no excitement, and I have children, so the bloom wore off quickly.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I don't think I have a favorite or least favorite mechanic. Every game is different, so the playability and fun come from the theme and duration for me. I do love randomness, so dice are always my top choice. I am not a fan of Deck Builders, just because they don't tickle my fancy.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Witch of Salem. No one ever wants to play with me because we always lose.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video Games
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games
OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.
When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Always the theme first. I believe any game can be fun, as long as it has an interesting and dynamic theme that speaks to people. I find that mechanics change drastically as games evolve, but a theme remains constant.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really. I am fairly new to the industry, and I respect and admire anyone who is willing to put their creativity and ingenuity out there for the world to see. All game designers have the ability to be great, and the diversity within industry is awesome.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually on a hike with friends. Brainstorming while you are enjoying yourself allows for relaxed conversation and creative flow.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I usually start with a core group of friends who are experienced gamers. Once they have tried to break the games and edits and alterations have been applied, I take them to larger groups of of other game designers who will be honest with me, and give constructive criticism and feedback.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I love being part of team. I personally love my ideas, but a team not only allows me to develop what I have created, they add aspects to the game that I may not have even considered. Artist input is also absolutely necessary in my opinion. Sometime the person creating the visual representation of your ideas taps into just the right feel, tone, and appearance of what your game vision should be.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making edits and not feeling like my creation, my baby is being negatively criticized by everyone who works on or playtests my games. It's akin to having your child being scrutinized by teachers on back-to-school night and it's grueling.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Tough question. I can't answer, because there are just so many wonderful ideas and options available to me, that I just couldn't choose.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I wish someone had told me that promoting yourself is the most difficult thing in the world. At least for me, putting myself and my creation out there for the world see is daunting, and I really love the guidance I've been given, because otherwise, I don't think I could have come this far.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
DO NOT fall so absolutely in love with your game that you are not willing to make changes to it. Sometimes, the constructive criticism you get will truly improve upon your already great idea. Be flexible and willing to listen to what people have to say.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Hunting Sasquatch (November 2016 KS)
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Colorado Game Designers Guild, Board
And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!
Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars, definitely. Coke, but with real sugar. VHS - come on, it's timeless!
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love hiking, performing, and hanging with my kids.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Improv acting classes are apparently a hot commodity for middle school kids.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I love 1940s music, books of all genres, and dark DC Comic Book Movies
What was the last book you read?
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope, just a boring old actress and singer.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was a competitive and ribbon winning swimmer.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I lip synced "I'm Mister Cold Miser" on stage at a Drag Show.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Going to the U.K. during the Mad Cow outbreak. No one was there, and I had the countryside to myself.
Who is your idol?
What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go back to the 1940s and become a Big Band Singer
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Um...Actress, teacher AND Game Designer. Extrovert to the extreme.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Mystique. She can be anyone at anytime. How awesome is that when you're having a bad day?
Have any pets?
Yup. 4 cats, 1 dog, 1 rat, and 2 snails. ee, ii, ee, ii, ohhhhhhhhhh
When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
I would love to see discrimination as whole wiped out, and if an asteroid can do that, SUPER FANTASTIC. I would love to see Monopoly survive, only because it is the cockroach of games, and it always survives regardless of the current climate. It would be devastating if it disappeared. Of course, I always want music and theater to survive.
If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
I want to thank SpyGlass Games for giving me the opportunity to realize my vision with Hunting Sasquatch. They are an awesome company, and can't wait to see what other games they put out in the next few years. Special thanks to Jeff Arbough and Michael Knight, because they have held my hand through this entire process, and have made me realize that I can make fun board games, especially because I have weird and off the wall ideas.
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!
Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html
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