32: Mentors

32: Mentors

Do you have a mentor for game design? If so, how have they helped you? If not, are you looking for one, and what are you looking for in such a relationship?

 

 

I co-design almost exclusively so I have never had a mentor, per se. Instead, I have the extreme privilege of being able to playtest with and talk to many of the luminaries in the industry. For example, I have learned how to use the limitations of intellectual properties as guideposts rather than stop signs from Kevin Wilson, how to simplify designs for accessibility from Matt Leacock, and how to differentiate between a game that merely works and a game that engages from Vlaada Chvatil. I have taken their generosity and I’m paying it forward by mentoring other designers through co-design.

Sen-Foong Lim

I have hundreds! I learn from everyone. I ask lots of questions and listen and take notes. It’s neat that longevity isn’t necessarily the qualifier in our niche – it’s innovation!

Adrienne Ezell

He’s gonna hate me saying this, but fellow Design 100 member Brett J. Gilbert has absolutely been my design mentor. He’s taught me an incredible amount about the industry and the craft, suffering through far too many of my horrible ideas to count. Without his continual support and patience, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today. Thanks B!

Trevor Benjamin

I have learned how to use the limitations of intellectual properties as guideposts rather than stop signs from Kevin Wilson, how to simplify designs for accessibility from Matt Leacock, and how to differentiate between a game that merely works and a game that engages from Vlaada Chvatil. — Sen Foong-Lim

When I started in this industry, I worked at an invention firm and had quite a few folks mentoring me, and for that I will be forever grateful. Now that I’m on my own, I have lots of informal “mentors” in my group of inventor friends. I think we all recognise that having a solo inventing business requires some outside support, so it doesn’t matter that we are competitors, we’re also there for each other when we need advice.

Kim Vandenbroucke

I do not have a single mentor, but I have benefited from the generosity of many game designers. Some have helped talk through difficult aspects of a design. Others have introduced me to publishers or even brought me into their pitch meetings. I’ve also learned about contracts, been warned away from folks with bad reputations, and been advised on aspects of the business I wasn’t familiar with. It’s a very supportive and kind community!

Isaac Shalev

Two of my first co-designs were with Christopher Badell, designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse. It was like a crash-course in what players care about, how to quickly make good-looking prototypes, and a billion other things that Christopher has picked up over the years.

Earlier this year, I got to show Eric Lang a prototype, then pick his brain on game design for about 90 minutes. That was a helluva experience, I’ll tell you that.

Peter C. Hayward

I think we all recognise that having a solo inventing business requires some outside support, so it doesn’t matter that we are competitors, we’re also there for each other when we need advice. — Kim Vandenbroucke

Eric Lang has been such a huge part of my game design life, through openly inviting me to work out of his office, having me as a co-designer on the expansion to Bloodborne, bouncing good (and bad) ideas off of each other, talking shop, and being someone with enormously huge advice on becoming a better designer and person in the community. I wish to become something like him for another person for sure!

Christopher Chung

I got in to design while playing Magic: The Gathering where I met up with future SSG partner Alan Paull – he had been a published designer in the 1980s and was up for rekindling the process. I should also mention Essen Spiel: an event that turned a glowing ember into a roaring fire of enthusiasm for the hobby – an annual booster shot is essential! I also have to mention Hanno Girke and Klemens Franz at Lookout Games: they are consistently good-humoured, encouraging, professional and this reflects in regular success; a designer needs friends like these folks!

Tony Boydell

I do not have a mentor, but I’d love to have one. I’d be super interested in getting some feedback on what my strengths and weaknesses in board game design are and what I should be working on to become a better designer. I have an idea on what I’m great and not so great at, but hearing from someone that has a lot of experience would be truly valuable and I’d love to be able to improve as much as I can.

Carla Kopp

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