Article By: Jillian Schmett
Hey everyone! This week I got a chance to chat with Erin Dean, the creator of the documentary The Board Game Boom, and author of the upcoming book, For the Love of Board Games. If you haven’t checked out her documentary yet, I highly recommend doing so! It's full of some great clips from some big names in the board game community, and I really enjoyed it. You can find it on YouTube, I'll attach a link at the bottom of the article.
How long have you been interested in board games?
As a kid, I played the traditional mass market games, like Monopoly, Life, and Candyland, with my friends and family. In high school, an aunt of mine gave me Ticket to Ride for Christmas. From then on, I was entranced with the modern board game hobby. After five years of collecting board games, I currently have over 120 games in my collection.
What is your current favorite game?
Right now, I’m really enjoying the new party game from IELLO, Decrypto. In this game, players compete in two teams with each trying to correctly interpret the coded messages presented to them by their teammates while cracking the codes they intercept from the opposing team
Your last board game related project, the documentary The Board Game Boom, has over 22k views on YouTube. Did you ever expect it to reach so many viewers?
I did not. I am genuinely surprised with the amount of views my documentary has. I think the amount of views really shows how many people are into board games and board game related content. More and more people each day are being introduced to modern board gaming hobby. As this number continues to rise, I think the demand for a variety of board game related content will also rise.
What was your inspiration for creating the documentary?
I was enrolled in a Documentary Production class at Webster University and I had to pick a topic for my semester-long documentary project. I immediately thought of creating a documentary about board games, which would allow me to combine my two loves for video production and board games. Another reason I choose to do my documentary on board games was because it would allow me to talk to board game professionals in the industry that I had never connected with before.
How long did it take you to create the film?
The entire process of creating the documentary took about four months. This included coming up with the questions I wanted to ask, contacting the people I wanted to interview, filming the interviews, and then finally editing the documentary.
You have many well-known personalities from board game culture featured in the documentary. Did you find that they were generally easy to reach out to and contact?
Everyone featured in my documentary was very friendly and excited to talk about the board game industry on camera. For some of the people featured in the film, it took a little research and digging to find their contact information, but once I connected with them, they were very willing to be a part of my project.
Who were you most excited to hear back from while working on The Board Game Boom and who was the most fun to work with?
I was most excited to hear back from Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower. I know how busy he is running his YouTube channel and creating content for The Dice Tower so I was very happy to hear that he had time to be interviewed for my documentary. I had a lot of fun interviewing John Coveyou of Genius Games because we already knew each other before the documentary was made. He was a professor of mine at my university for a class I took called Traditional Game Design and I also did a video internship at his board game company.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with that project?
I think the biggest challenge with The Board Game Boom was piecing together the story during the editing project. I had a lot of great content and interviews to choose from and it was hard to decide what would or would not make the cut. Richard Ham from Rahdo Runs Through and Sam Healey from The Dice Tower were actually interviewed for my documentary as well, but I had to cut them from the film due to the time restriction I was given from my professor.
Your next project is your upcoming book, For the Love of Board Games. What made you decide to switch your medium from film to literature?
I honestly just thought it would be fun to write a book. I have never written a book before and I wanted to try something new.
How long have you been working on your book?
I started working on the book in February 2018 when I reached out to Reddit and Board Game Geek to ask the question, “What kind of a board game book do you wish existed?” A lot of people were interested in learning more about the designers behind their most favorite games so that’s the topic I chose for my book. I then started to reach out to different board game designers and began conducting interviews. I now have interviewed over 30 designers and have more interviews on the way.
Who are some of the designers we can expect to see featured?
Here are some of the designers who will be featured in my book: Bruno Cathala (Five Tribes, Kingdomino), Jamey Stegmaier (Scythe, Viticulture), Matt Leacock (Pandemic), Bernd Brunnhofer (Stone Age, Saint Petersburg), Reiner Knizia (Tigris & Euphrates, Lost Cities), and many others. When I’m finished with the book, I expect to have over 50 designers featured.
What has been your favorite part of the writing process so far?
I think my favorite part of the writing process so far has been connecting with these famous board game designers. They’re like celebrities to me so it has been really cool talking with the designers and getting to know them. Everyone I have connected with has been super friendly and has a lot of exciting stories to tell.
What has been your least favorite or most challenging part?
I think my least favorite part has been transcribing my Skype calls to text. Most of my interviews have been conducted through email, but the other ones I’ve had to transcribe the interviews, which is very time consuming.
Have you ever thought about designing a board game yourself?
I actually designed a board game called Rush to Surgery for my Traditional Game Design class, but I have never considered becoming a designer myself. I find it much more fun to create content for board gamers and not the actual games themselves.
When can readers expect to see For the Love of Board Games available and how can we purchase a copy?
The Kickstarter campaign for my book will launch in early June. If you do not end up backing the Kickstarter, you can still purchase the book via Amazon. I am hoping to have the books available to the public by early Fall. To stay updated on this project, I encourage readers to join and like our Facebook group and page by searching, “For the Love of Board Games - Book” on Facebook.
Do you have any plans for your next project after this one?
I do not have any definite plans for my next board game related project. However, if the book does well and there is a demand for it, I might write a second edition book with even more designers. I have also considered filming a feature-length documentary on board games.
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