This is your chance to let us know what YOU think about a variety of topics related to hobby gaming. Our guest author starts the conversation and then it’s “your turn” to chime in and add to the discussion. Each Your Turn discussion will have a new topic. In the meantime…
Greetings! I’m Christopher Badell, Design Director and Co-Owner of Greater Than Games! I make the games that I have always wanted to play, and I’m thrilled that other people enjoy them as well! I can usually be found in my very orange office in the Greater Than Games Headquarters in St. Louis, or working in our booth at a gaming convention!
Our Part In The Game industry
As a game designer, people frequently ask me, “Christopher, what is your favorite game to play?” That’s a really tough question. I mean, I love all my games – they’re all things we made because we wanted to play those games and couldn’t find anything like them. And there are many other games that I enjoy as well. But, truthfully, my favorite game is running Greater Than Games with Paul and Adam. It’s the best. It’s a collaborative, team-based, worker placement, resource management mini-game within a cooperative mega-game. Let me explain by going seemingly off-topic.
People also like to ask me about who our “competitors” are. I don’t like that question. I firmly believe that the tabletop gaming industry does not compete with itself and I work hard to get other designers and publishers on board with that view as well. I should be less focused on making sure every potential customer buys MY game, and more focused on making sure as many people are buying games. Any games. Because if you buy and play a game and you love it, then (as you all know) you can’t help but buy and play more games! Then, the responsibility is on us to make great games – if we’re making great games, and you’re buying games, then, eventually, our paths will cross.
This is why I call the gaming industry a cooperative game. If I meet a potential new gamer and they have a particular interest in, say, Edward Gorey, I’m certainly going to introduce them to Keith Baker’s Gloom! That’s a great foot in the door! Then, if they play it and they love it – boom. That’s another gamer. Who wins? Everyone does. This is a cooperative game. Gamers win because there are now more gamers. FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Stores) win, because they’re selling more games. Publishers win because now they have a wider audience. Sure, I didn’t sell that new gamer MY game, but I just brought another player into the cooperative meta-game of the tabletop world, and that’s BETTER. Maybe, eventually, they might decide they want to try out a superhero game or take on a science-fantasy space battle setting… and when they do, I’ll be there for them. But by focusing on improving the industry, everyone benefits.
Last year, I was talking to Adam (the Art Director of Greater Than Games and my good friend) about this, and he pointed out that, yes, the tabletop gaming industry is a cooperative game, but it also has a traitor mechanic. And he’s absolutely right. What’s the worst thing that a publisher in the industry can do? Put out bad games. Now, no one intentionally makes bad games, but it happens. Maybe it wasn’t playtested enough. Maybe production costs had to be cut to make ends meet and the component quality is lacking. Maybe the publisher and the designer didn’t communicate well and the game suffered as a result. Whatever the reason, bad games get made. This can easily mess things up for everyone. If that new potential gamer’s first foray into tabletop gaming is one of those bad games, they assume that this is what games are like and that gaming just isn’t for them. At this point, they can be recovered, but it’s much harder. It is likely that we have lost them. And that’s sad for everyone. That’s how we all lose points in this cooperative game.
I love this industry. It’s full of some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and the vast majority of them are doing this for the love of games, gaming, and gamers. I am proud to be a part of the world of tabletop games, and I can’t wait to see how the next few rounds of this grand co-op game goes.
Question: So, what’s your role in the cooperative game? Do you have particular games that you use to get new people involved in the wonderful world of tabletop gaming?