Tuesday, April 6, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 274: Rebecca Robinson

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:Rebecca Robinson
Location:London, UK
Day Job:I work for the National Theatre in London.
Designing:One to two years.
Find my games at:The Game Crafter in the Community Anthology Challenge coil book and hopefully on Kickstarter in the future.
Today's Interview is with:

Rebecca Robinson
Interviewed on: 1/3/2021

This week we get to meet newer designer Rebecca Robinson. Rebecca started designing games just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, so she's had to learn how to playtest in a very unique environment. Though only designing for about a year, Rebecca has jumped right in, with a game entered in The Game Crafter's Anthology Contest and another design she's working on for the Solo/Duo contest. To learn more aobut Rebecca and her projects, read on!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Working front of house at a West End Theatre, my friends and I had some down time during the shows. We'd often play card games as a group, and one day, two of us decided to make a card game of our own. This was before I was aware of the vastness of the modern board game world, my experience of tabletop gaming was mainly party games, and as such the game we designed featured the 'take that' mechanic very heavily. I've since learned this isn't my favourite style of play, and we're currently reworking the game so that there is no player elimination.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I just finished working on a little resource management game called Je Tame for The Game Crafter's Community Anthology Challenge, created by Ben Moy. It's now a semi-finalist in the contest! There's another challenge for Solo/Duo games and I have a tile placement idea, but it's in the very early stages in my mind. And, the game that started it all, What's That Horse is still being developed with my co-designer Josh King.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet! We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for a P&P version of What's That Horse. That was largely for feedback on the game, as large scale playtesting isn't currently possible with Covid19. We were also fortunate enough to have a meeting with Ravensburger, but though they enjoyed the art and idea, they weren't currently in the market for a game with our mechanics.

What is your day job?
I work for the National Theatre in London.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home, which is good because due to lockdown that's the only place we've been allowed to play games! I tend to find new games and rulebooks challenging the first time around, so it's great to have the chance to watch some Rodney Smith and learn at my own pace.

Who do you normally game with?
My partner, Megan.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'd love to get into a cooperative game, I'm really keen for my friends to try Hogwarts Battle. But we tend to play sillier games like Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, Anomia and Articulate. That's when I'm not making them playtest one of my own game ideas.

And what snacks would you eat?
Dinner first, then games. Must protect the precious, precious games.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I've not actually tried playing games with music. I tend to get distracted quite easily and the one time we played the soundtrack for an escape game we were playing, we had to turn it off early on because I couldn't focus.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I got into the wider hobby in April of last year, and as such I've only been able to purchase games online. I'm looking forward to finding my favourite FLGS as soon as travelling and shopping are safe again!

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favourite is New York Zoo, closely followed by Calico. Least Favourite that I still enjoy, maybe Villainous? It's a great game, but some villain combinations mean hours of gameplay that gets really repetitive, in my opinion. Worst Game ever played, I'm not sure on this one, I actually enjoy all of my games...oh wait Cards Against Humanity. That's the worst.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I'm really enjoying puzzley type games at the moment, Azul, Sagrada, Calico, New York Zoo. And worker placement too. My least favourite is probably 'take that' style mechanics, which is why I'm trying to redevelop my first game design.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Flash Point Fire Rescue. I really enjoy it, but my partner does not.

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 Board Games, Card 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?
A bit of both really. Theme comes early on though. I think I find a mechanic I'm interested in trying to create with, and then I think of themes in which that mechanic makes sense. Theme is really important to me though.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, I've entered TGC's Community Anthology challenge. It was so fun to approach designing a game with strict limitations. The challenge was to create a game that fits on 2 pages of an a4 coil book, rules and all, using a set amount of components. Other than that you had free reign. My game, Je Tame, is a semi-finalist! I've already seen some other entrants' designs and it's amazing to see how differently others have approached the challenge and the wide range of games that'll be available in the finished book(s).

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Maybe Uwe Rosenburg

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Probably from playing games. Playing games gets me hooked onto a mechanic or style I want to try and then I'll think about themes I like, usually animal based. Then, once I've got an idea milling around in my brain I generally get inspiration when I'm in the shower or trying to fall asleep.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I generally prefer to playtest in person. But with Covid I'm trying to learn Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team for sure. The beginnings of an idea tend to happen alone, but then bouncing ideas off other people can only ever improve them, in my opinion. My co-designer on What's That Horse, Josh King and I had so much fun working together on the design and deciding the right names for the right cards. It'd wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable alone.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
I tend to get ahead of myself quite quickly. I'll have an idea for a game, and not long after I'll be trying to source the materials and working on budgets to see if it's financially viable and the game isn't even made yet! This then overwhelms me, and I struggle to stay motivated. Perfectionism often stalls me.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Stranger Things, I think I could find a fun game in that world.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The community is very welcoming; ask for help.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Don't get too caught up on the small things (like me!). Have fun and create something you enjoy.

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: In the Community Anthology Challenge - Je Tame: A resource management game of taming animal sets! It's a semi-finalist!
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: What's That Horse - The Card Game
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: The Journey Upstream - A tile placement game

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

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?
Neither. Diet Coke. VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love the Theatre and (albeit not for a while) I write for the stage.

What is something you learned in the last week?
How to use a Raclette machine

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like Musical Theatre and 80s jams. I enjoy reading non-fiction. And I'm a sucker for watching a movie I've already seen a BUNCH.

What was the last book you read?
Lost Child - Torey Hayden

Do you play any musical instruments?
Proficiently, no. But I enjoy attempting to play piano and violin. And I sing.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I kept a mouse skeleton that I found outside when I was child. I put it in a box and left it in the laundry room. I'm not sure for how long before my mother discovered it. I found it interesting.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I snuck into a prestigious theatre post awards show party and met some legends of theatre!

Who is your idol?
Bette Midler. I just love her.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Nu-uh I'm not getting trapped in some other time dimension. I'd want to visit the dinosaurs, but I've seen Jurassic Park and I don't survive.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I want to be a villain, and I want that villain to be Maleficent.

Have any pets?
Yes Smooey. Smooey The Cat.

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 want one of my games to survive! I want a legacy! Maybe we need to work on an underground board game bunker.

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):
Ben Moy for creating the first challenge/competition that I ever entered. And Amelie Le-Roche for bringing it to my attention.

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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