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  • Writer's picture Danielle Reynolds - @TokenGaymer

A Lull in Game Design

I think everyone has gone through times where they are too busy or unmotivated to work on projects that don’t have exact deadlines. I remember when I’d have a trimester long school paper or project that I would push off until a month or few weeks before it was due. Normally, I am really strict with my scheduling. I dedicate time in my life to working on personal projects, especially game design but with various events of this year it has been hard to stay on track.

In January, I committed to working with two different companies for two of the largest game conventions Origins and GenCon. But as they got canceled or moved online I lost the chance to work at their booths. Now instead of attending GenCon I will be camping in Wisconsin to get out of my apartment. Being stuck working from home most of this quarantine has made me want to get off my computer as soon as it was 5pm which meant me avoiding my personal computer and all the game updates I needed to do. As I slowed on using my personal computer it began having more and more issues with crashing and slowly opening apps like the Adobe suite or Tabletop Simulator which are a designers two best friends right now. This has been frustrating to the point of not even wanting to try and start up my laptop. I’ve tried having it fixed now twice but I don’t currently have the money to buy a new one if a third fix doesn’t finally fix it. Fingers crossed sending it in will finally do the trick!

Besides computer issues, I haven’t had access to printers or in-person playtesters which really did keep me up to date on changes. Right now I have been going into my office every-other week where I have access to a printer. The only games that are currently printed and up to date with changes are Rubbish and Let’s Sort It Out. Everything else is on Tabletop Simulator waiting to get an update based off notes from past playtests. It’s been hard finding the time/energy to update all my designs. I have about 10+ games in different stages of development and testing so I’ve had to really start focusing on just one or two games rather than continuing to add to my list. I’m hoping this will allow them to get to the point of a publisher signing them. I have made sure to participate in various contests like Speed Pitching and Design Days but have avoided new game design contests to really focus on the designs I already have. Rubbish has been my in-person focus any time I have a family member come or friend (which is rare) I have them playtest it.

Since quarantine began I really haven’t been inspired to design anything new beyond a party game I could play through Zoom. Which was mostly meant to help me pass the time. I have also had three deaths, a close family member diagnosed with Cancer and a break up with my fiancé that has really hurt my motivation to design new things. Game design has been a great way of escaping my personal life but when bad news comes around it’s hard to keep trucking on with the same energy and enthusiasm. Thankfully after a bit of a design hiatus for two months this summer I seem to be slowly bouncing back.

Ways I’ve used to help stay in the community even if it’s not through designing games has been:

  • Continuing to inform the community about events, videos, references and more on Board Game Broads, DMR Creative Group and the Chicago Game Design Group’s Facebook groups.

  • Participating in contests and continuing to submit games to publishers.

  • Participating/running playtests with the Chicago Game Design Discord. Playing other designer’s games is helping me get out of my funk.

  • Playing published games has helped me pass the time being stuck indoors and given me inspiration for future game design ideas.

  • Watching/listing to game design Podcasts, Twitch and Youtube has kept me up-to-date on everything game related.

  • Participating in group discussions and podcasts has allowed me to socialize and work to give back to the community I love.

  • Helping plan/organize the Nonepub Convention after we shut down Origins Online. Having a weekly meeting and goals has been great in helping me keep a schedule. I’m excited to see how this convention turns out!

  • Preparing for interviews and online pitching. I’ve done a few online pitches during this break and have learned a lot. Mostly, have your phone as a backup incase your computer craps out. Also, moving during a pandemic is not what I want even if it’s to work at a company in California. Especially if the hours are insane and the pay isn’t at the level it should be for a move like that.

Okay, so I guess I do stay busy. Mostly in running/organizing things. What I’m hoping for is to get back that creative spark and motivation! It’s a slow process. I have to tell myself that everyone goes through lags and downs. Take your time and eventually you’ll get back to where you want to be. Now I just need that damn computer to start working!!!

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