My first job as an artist was as an animator was for Funnybone Interactive in 1997. There we made children’s edutainment software. We created lots of digital games based on popular kids properties such as Barbie, Fisher-Price, Jump Start, Blaster as well as many others. So, right away gaming became part of my design repertoire.
In September of 2009, Mashable ran an article discussing On Demand production services. One of those services is The Game Crafter, a company that allows would-be game creators the ability to upload artwork and specs into their system which handles everything involved in game production and sales by taking orders, creating and shipping your physical board or card games on demand, and sending you your profits. I thought, “What a cool idea”, and filed the idea away for some possible future use.
Around the start of 2011, my daughter and I both stayed home sick from work and school. No mind that Dad was sick; in her then 10 year old mind, if Dad is home, it must be a play day. Being tired and miserable, yet wanting to help out my wife, who was now stuck with two patients, I suggested something easy, like working on a board game that she had started earlier in the week. Six hours, several cups of tea, a couple bowls of soup, a handful of cough drops, and many of my art supplies later, we had a working prototype for her idea.
I can’t say it was the funnest game in the world, and after several playings, we had identified a number of areas that needed adjustment and refining, but it helped make the most of a sick day. The core idea of the game itself I felt would be really hard to pitch successfully, but still, what really surprised me was all of the game mechanics she had worked thru with me to make it work. I mean, the game played. It had flow and purpose. Most of this had come from her; I had just helped with some of the rough spots. At dinner, when she mentioned that she wished she could make it ‘real’, I told her that if we could finish ‘fixing’ it, we could probably make real artwork for the game and send it in to the Game Crafter and they would build it for us.
Now, I had in mind that we could build something and just do a one-off; a physical artifact representing to us a father-daughter project. Still, even that would require a lot of work from me on the art front, and 10 year old girls are easily swayed from one thing to the next. So I let it go even though she was really excited when I first mentioned it, figuring that if she was serious, she would persist. And persist, she did. We kept talking about it, and then talking about other game ideas. We’ve worked through basic game concepts in our conversations, and have refined a number of them. We have 5 ideas in the hopper. Some are already in the prototype stage, and others are still just notes in a Moleskine I have that’s dedicated just to our game idea.
Its a fun time to be a dad and a creative entrepreneur.