I just finished watching a live video from Stonemaier Games owner Jamey Stegmaier. He does these weekly (I believe) Facebook live chats where he simply answers viewers’ questions about a variety of topics. I’ve participated in these talks several times, often asking him questions about game design or about the publishing process.
He’s doing it right.
Jamey is hyper-present and available on social media, and regularly posts videos or blog updates about a wide-range of board gaming topics. He’s been extremely successful as a game designer and publisher, and has made himself available to his fans and customers to an impressive degree. The fact that I, a still-unpublished board game designer, can ask this figurehead of the industry what his opinion is on how to make games more accessible for colorblind gamers, or for advice on submitting designs to publishers, is incredible. I enjoy the games of his that I’ve played, but don’t usually have a lot of questions that I want him to answer about those games. But on these video chats, other users are constantly asking him about different mechanics or thematic elements of specific games of his.
This blows my mind. It’s equivalent to calling up Paul McCartney and asking him what “I am the Walrus” means. Obviously, it’s not on the same scale, but the accessibility of Jamey and other titans of the game industry is something that I have been reflecting on a lot recently. Last week, I got a response on boardgamegeek.com from Richard Garfield about a question I asked him about the publishing process. Richard Garfield created Magic: The Gathering. He is arguably one of the most important game designers in the world. And he sent me a message, apologizing for the delay, relaying his experience and advice about how to interact with publishers. It’s crazy to think that that kind of access exists, but it’s indicative of the industry itself, and how welcoming and inclusive it is. I enjoy this hobby, and guys like Jamey Stegmaier, who commit their time to interacting with their fans, make it that much better.