Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thank You James

Over the past four days I was at a Scout camp with my son.  We played several games during breaks between swimming, archery, activities, meals, a bit of rain, and lots of fun activities.  However, I was mostly cut off from civilization, with only spotty cell and very slow, limited wi-fi reception.  It was a sad end to an otherwise very happy extended weekend when I came home yesterday to find out that James Mathe passed away.

James Mathe was, and still is, an icon in the hobby games industry.  He was a publisher, designer, retailer, innovator, teacher, blogger, and entrepreneur.  Most of all though, James was passionate about gaming and helping others.  He was known for being blunt and honest with his opinions and feedback, which sometimes rubbed people the wrong way, but I found refreshing.

I first met James in 2014.  Our first interaction was online.  He sent me a copy of Dragon Flame to review (the second game ever that I was sent to review by a publisher).  Shortly after that I met him in person at Protospiel Madison 2014.  It was a brief meeting; I introduced myself and thanked him for sending Dragon Flame for me to review.  Over the years I interacted with James more online through many of the groups he set up to help board game publishers, designers, and hobbyists, and reviewed more Minion Games titles.  I also met James at several other Protospiel events, played games with him, and even got feedback on several of my designs.  I was encouraged to keep working on 8 Seconds after he told me that it was one of the few games he played that wasn't crap at Protospiel Milwaukee in 2016, and was thrilled when he picked The Manhattan Project: Loaded Dice (now Pharmacology) as the winner of his The Manhattan Project Dice Game Contest in 2017.  It wasn't right for him to publish, but his encouragement prompted me to keep working on and improving the game.

 Although I wasn't super close with him, my interactions were amazingly influential in my development as a designer and content producer.  He always struck me as someone who cared about people, the truth, and telling people what they needed to hear.

James was a big man, and his absence in the hobby games industry will leave a huge hole.  He will be missed greatly and my heart goes out to all his family and friends.  Thank you James!

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