As a bit of an offshoot from my Meeting of Minds series, that concentrates on the UK gaming scene, I will from time to time interview someone from further afield if a project or game particularly catches my eye. I hope in this way to promote interesting people and ideas that you may not have come across. I hope you enjoy.
Although we all enjoy the myriad of boardgames that come out each year, it is sometimes good to take a moment to reflect on the hobby. Erin Dean first approached the subject in her documentary ‘The Board Game Boom’ and is now turning to the written word in her forthcoming book ‘For the Love of Board Games’.
Erin was good enough to tell us a little bit about herself, the drive behind creating the book, and the gaming luminaries she has managed to interview for the project. The book will be going live on Kickstarter on the 28th of August and you can find more about it on the Facebook Page.
Tell us a little about your background, your profession and how you got to where you are now.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been making videos. I directed my first video, “Super Guy” in kindergarten, which my dad filmed with our family camcorder. My first “video camera” was a cardboard box, with two holes on each end and a duck tape strap, that a candle had come in. That “video camera” inspired the name of my freelance business, Candlebox Films. In 2018, I graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a Video Production degree. I now work at Unbridled Media in St. Louis as their Project Coordinator.
How did you first develop an interest 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 was it that drove you to create your documentary ‘The Board Game Boom’?
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 chose to do my documentary on board games was that it would allow me to talk to board game professionals in the industry who I had never connected with before.
Was it your intention to make a film for the board game community or to show the wider world what board games can be like?
My intention was to create a film that would introduce more people to the modern board gaming hobby. I think there are a lot of people out there that think Monopoly, Life, Clue, and Sorry are the only board games out there, but there is actually so many better, more engaging board games that exist.
Your next project is a book about board games. Switching from film to book is quite a jump, what made you want to take your next project to the written form?
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.
What skills from the world of documentary film making have you found useful in the production of the book?
I think in both mediums you have to know how to interview people. Whether I’m filming the interview or just emailing someone, you have to ask questions that will lead to big answers. I pride myself in being a good interviewer and asking questions that lead to interesting answers.
Each chapter of the book is going to focus on a different designer. Who are you most excited to have gotten to join the project and why?
I was most excited to connect with Bruno Cathala (Kingdomino, Five Tribes). He is very friendly and I’m a big fan of the board games he has designed.
Which designers were you able to talk to for the book?
Some of the game designers that will be featured in my book include: Jamey Stegmaier (Scythe, Viticulture), Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering), Matt Leacock (Pandemic), Reiner Knizia (Tigris & Euphrates, Lost Cities), and many others. You can find the full list of designers that will be featured in my book on my book’s Facebook page: “For the Love of Board Games – Book.”
If this initial run goes well would it be your intention to do a new version from time to time to highlight new designers? Who would you like to get for a future project?
I think the book that I am writing could easily be a series. If I did write a part two version of the book, I would love to interview designers Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, Caverna, Le Harve), Alan Moon (Ticket to Ride), and Klaus Teuber (Settlers of Catan).
There are quite a few projects coming up that seem to be analysing the behind the scenes of the board game industry, an indication the hobby is growing in popularity. As the hobby grows how important do you think it is that there are people like yourself documenting the history of Tabletop Games?
I think as the hobby gains more and more popularity, it will be crucial to document the history of board games. The hobby is gaining new people every day and it is important we capture its history.
What board game are you most excited for in 2018?
I am most excited about the board game Detective: City of Angels, which was on Kickstarter late last year, but will be releasing to the public later in 2018.