Tuesday, February 28, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 53: Simon Erich

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.

Name:Simon Erich
Location:Austin, TX
Day Job:I own a 14 year old digital agency in Austin. Much of the work we do is complex website and web application development for large companies.
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Argle Bargle
Find my games at:Kickstarter just wrapped up, Amazon later.
Today's Interview is with:

Simon Erich
Interviewed on: 1/30/2017

Simon Erich has been designing games ever since he was a kid, but just a few weeks ago the Kickstarter for Argle Bargle, the game where you insult your friends, was successfully funded. This will be Simon's first published tabletop game and it looks hilarious (it got good reviews from EBGN reviewers Dave and Derek). With the success of Argle Bargle, I can't wait to see what else Simon and design partner Zeke come up with. There are already some expansions for Argle Bargle in the works. If you missed the Kickstarter and you're still curious, you can preorder Argle Bargle on Indiegogo.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I've actually designed tabletop and role playing games since I was a young boy, around age 12. As a young gamer a close friend and I would create our own games to play with our group of friends. I find game design a puzzle to be solved. It's really gratifying to create a concept and construct that other people can take part in and enjoy.

What game or games are you currently working on?
We have completed the design of our game Argle Bargle: The game where you insult your friends, and recently hit our funding goal on Kickstarter.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, but Argle Bargle was successfully funded on Kickstarter.

What is your day job?
I own a 14 year old digital agency in Austin. Much of the work we do is complex website and web application development for large companies.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
We host our own game nights at the office or home. Also have a semi-regular game lunch with the other people in the company.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, family, and co-workers.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We have a few board games that have yet to be played, like Mayfair Games Villainy, so we'd probably crack that open.

And what snacks would you eat?
We often have a wide variety of olives, cheeses and meats... and of course libations.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, not usually. It makes it harder to hear people cursing under their breath.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite game is probably Munchkin, we've played the base set hundreds of times. Least favorite that I still enjoy is probably Talisman - used to love it as a child but realized its shortcomings as I grew older. The worst game I ever played would probably have to be Joking Hazard, it just fell flat as a "game".

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Unexpected twists.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Family Business - One of my favorites as a kid and it always seems to be pushed aside for something newer and shinier.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Sometimes, with the right crowd of non-gamers

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?
Theme first, then mechanics.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No, I rarely if ever enter competitions for design of any kind.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Steve Jackson is my tabletop idol / Richard Garriott is my video game idol.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
The shower is often a productive time, but most inspiration comes from putting in the time to really try to solve the problems in front of me.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I love it, it's just hard to get people together sometimes. For Argle Bargle we actually built an online multi-player version and playtested with friends remotely, which made it much easier to get in a couple games in a night.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
My best friend and co-creator Zeke Brill have often collaborated on games together.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Manufacturing and marketing, basically everything that comes after you've created the game.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I've worked in comics before, and have a passion for them, so it would be cool to create a game in that space.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I've always known it was a possible path.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't let anything stop you from following your passions.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Argle Bargle: The game where you insult your friends

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)

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, Coke, digital download

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Fishing, design, UX, illustration

What is something you learned in the last week?
That I would be nowhere without my friends.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Good music, good books, and good movies (ok, sometimes bad movies)

What was the last book you read?
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Do you play any musical instruments?
I wish.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I run a competitive kayak bass fishing team.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I moved to NYC with $200 in my pocket.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My daughter Eve (jeez that sounds so wrong!)

Who is your idol?
Dave Grohl is pretty damn awesome.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back and do it all over again, just for fun.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm an introvert that plays an extrovert on TV

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spiderman is my childhood hero.

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 hope that games (of all types) would still be played, as well as music. I could do without religion and politics.

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):
Look Mom, I'm on the internet! I love you! Thanks for making me do this Zeke.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

This has been an incredible learning experience and it's been truly interesting meeting the community at large that have spent their lives in this space. I have SO much respect for those that do this for a living. It's not just a full time job, it's a way of life.

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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