Sadr Region courtesy of Luke Green

Inspiration from Leaders in the Board Game Industry

Hard at work play testing, working on art, trying to build a brand and a game company – sometimes you have to come up for air. When I have time, I love to read other bloggers, watch videos on how to play games, and generally be involved in the board gaming community. I take so much inspiration from others who are doing great work in the board game industry and, in these posts I hope to highlight some of the folks who have helped and inspired me along the way. This will be a recurring theme throughout this design diary. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even try to interview some of these folks if I get the opportunity!

In this post, I’d like to highlight Jamey Stegmaier, a man I’ve never met but who has transformed the face of the industry and been nothing short of a personal mentor for thousands of aspiring game designers and business owners (myself included!). Most of you probably know of Jamey’s legacy or at least his brand (Stonemaier Games). Jamey started Kickstarting board games back when it was a fairly novel idea (2012 I believe!) and has gone on to build a enduring and endearing brand known the world over. So, you might ask, how did Jamey accomplish so much in so little time, starting from the ground up? Well, here’s what’s so amazing, he’s chronicled the entire journey and bestowed his wisdom upon the masses in perhaps the greatest board game industry blog ever created (Stonemaier Blog). This unselfish and masterfully crafted epic propounds industry insider secrets in nearly every post with follow up conversations and posts from other industry leaders and specialists in dizzying array of game related subject matters. He does all of this writing while running a business, continuously interacting with the community, designing fantastic new board games, and publishing?! I’m not sure how it’s humanly possible to be so productive but it’s an inspiration to me regardless.

Personally, I’ve used many of the ideas and tips Jamey has written about at length in his blog and I sometimes feel like I’d be a bit lost without his contribution. I will often ask myself a question then go look for it on his blog only to find a perfect answer already waiting! In honor of the Stonemaier Blog, here are my top 3 intriguing themes that seem to permeate Jamey’s writing:

A constant willingness to bring others into the inner circle. Since the beginning of his journey, I’ve watched as Jamey focused on inclusion. As his star began to rise, he literally reached out to others willing and ready to come along for the ride. As the Stonemaier star now burns as a beacon of hope for self-starters everywhere and Jamey’s influence has increase, I’ve only seen this business practice increase as well. So many of his posts bring in guest writers, link to other people’s Kickstarter campaigns, and ask questions that honestly make me wonder how I can be a better game designer, a better business owner, and often a better person in general!

A focus on quality content. I would be hard pressed to find a single post on Jamey’s blog where I did not come away saying something like “Now that’s some useful information!” or “That’s something I had never considered.” The clear focus on providing insightful data and experiential knowledge all in a spirit of inclusiveness and positivity is nothing short of profound.

A meaningful look at mistakes and successes. It’s probably obvious by now that Jamey Stegmaier is one of my industry heroes. However, when your hero can publicly admit mistakes and use them as a lesson for himself and his readers it makes him both more human and all the more heroic! So many hurdles that Jamey has tripped over along the way are hurdles I may not have to trip over myself (at least I can hope!). Equally important is noting your own successes. I love reading about the things Jamey has done right. As someone who tries to follow his examples, it’s both validating and encouraging. And of course, his blog encourages and validates the successes of others as well!

Without a doubt, Jamey Stegmaier stands among the greats of the board game industry for his well crafted games, industry best practices, and, perhaps most of all, his unselfish thought leadership. If you don’t follow what he’s doing already, do so here:

More to come on other inspirational leaders in the board gaming community! Who would you rank among the greats? Anyone you would like to see me write about or maybe even interview?

One Thought to “Design Diary 002 – Inspiration”

  1. Derek O.

    Great diary entry, Taran! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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