Tuesday, January 9, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 103: Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader

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. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader
Location:Evanston, IL
Day Job:Lisa: Freelancer (from concept to development to finish) on multimedia projects mostly for children. Aaron: Artist and Graphic Designer.
Designing:Over ten years!
BGG:Studio 9 Incorporated
YouTube:Aaron Kreader
Find my games at:amazon, our game store online from our site, or many other game retailers
Today's Interview is with:

Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader
Interviewed on: 11/24/2017

I met Lisa this year at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and talked for a bit about her new game, CHARMS: A Game of Insight. This is her first game that she's designed, however she's helped her husband Aaron with his work on several other games. Today's interview is with both Lisa and Aaron. They not only design games here in the Chicagoland area, but also run their own publishing company, Studio 9 Incorporated, where they produce games and books.

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 started helping my husband C. Aaron Kreader with his game designs.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Aaron is working on the Midnight Legion series. Lisa has concepts for CHARMS expansions.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. Our company Studio 9 Games has published Villagers & Villains, Treasures & Traps, the Midnight Legion series, Hero vs. Guardian, Charms: A Game of Insight, and expansions for T&T and V&V.

What is your day job?
Lisa: Freelancer (from concept to development to finish) on multimedia projects mostly for children. Aaron: Artist and Graphic Designer.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Lisa: At home. Aaron: Anywhere with a table and enthusiastic players.

Who do you normally game with?
Lisa: Aaron. Aaron: With a core of friends and Lisa who provide great feedback as play testers.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We make games we love and often play them with our friends on game nights. In general, we like quick playing games. Aaron also plays RPG games regularly.

And what snacks would you eat?
Lisa: Mixed nuts Aaron: Popcorn, chips, and pretzels

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, haven't really thought about doing that. Sometimes Aaron plays atmospheric music for his RPG nights.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Our local stores are great!: Evanston Games & Cafe and Dice Dojo.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite Games--Lisa: CHARMS: A Game of Insight Aaron: Besides our own games, Jaipur is a current favorite.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite game mechanic--Lisa: Creative and/or cooperative features Aaron: Press your luck and asymmetrical games

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Aaron: Tikal

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
Typically theme first.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, Treasures & Traps is an Origins Award Nominated Card Game of the Year.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
We really enjoy Jason Katarski's work from Green Couch Games and games by Alan R. Moon.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Lisa: Dreams Aaron: Usually when spacing out.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We play test a lot with many different people and are willing to adapt or let a game go if it doesn't work out well in testing.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
We usually like to work in teams.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Aaron: The goal of trying to create complexity without complication of rules, mechanics, design, etc.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Lisa: Harry Potter or Sesame Street Aaron: The Hobbit and Adventure Time

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Aaron: How to properly design the information on the back of the box.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Lisa and Aaron: Create what you love.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: CHARMS: A Game of Insight, Treasures & Traps, Villagers & Villains, Midnight Legion series, Hero vs. Guardian, 3 expansions for T&T and 2 expansions for V&V
Games that will soon be published are: Midnight Legion book 3, a Midnight Legion mini-adventure for Free RPG Day, and an adventure module for DCC RPG
I'm planning to crowdfund: Yes, in 2018
Games that I'm playtesting are: Aaron: Cooperative card game with theme of world affairs.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Aaron: A party game

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

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?
Aaron: Firefly, Izze, Laser disc

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Lisa: Arts, crafts, dancing, skating Aaron: Arts, crafts, reading

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Lisa and Aaron: World, spiritual, fiction, & nonfiction

What was the last book you read?
Lisa: Mercy Thompson series Aaron: The World Order of Baha'u'llah

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
We also make animations.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Aaron: Decided to make a game company

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Aaron: Decided to make a game company

Who is your idol?
Aaron: Lisa is awesome!

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Aaron: I would send it a couple thousand years into the future with a note taped to it saying "Thinking of you!"

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Lisa: Introvert Aaron: Extrovert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Lisa: Wonder Woman (if i could change the outfit) Aaron: Daredevil

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?
Aaron: I think it would be ironic of Gamma World survived. Games that teach kids to hoard property and money and monopolize on other players’ poverty could be wiped out.

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):
Special thanks to Ann Knipp of Chicago Kids Media. She's the reason we met you at the ChiTag. Also thanks to our co-creator of CHARMS: A Game of Insight, Julie Burns Walker. And the author and co-creator of Midnight Legion, Aaron Emmel.

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

Play board games! It brings people together!

Our new release, CHARMS: A Game of Insight is co-created by Lisa Blecker, C. Aaron Kreader and Julie Burns Walker. It's a creative problem-solving party game for a charmed life. Midnight Legion is co-created by Aaron Emmel and C. Aaron Kreader. This is a sci-fi choose your own adventure book series. Treasures & Traps, Villagers & Villains, Hero vs Guardian, and all expansions for T&T and V&V are created, written, and designed by C. Aaron Kreader. These are all card games with a fantasy theme. All of our games are family friendly and aside from the Midnight Legion book series, they all play within a lunch time.

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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