At Gencon 2018, Game Designers Do It For Their Kids

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Gencon 2018 Game Development for Children

It was my very first convention. I do not do well around crowds, nor am I a people person. Much like James Halliday, I prefer the solitude of a book, video game, movie, or SyFy television show. The convention center seemed to be a fictional reality like the Oasis. I saw all sorts of things that sparked the imagination; my boyhood dreams came to life. What Easter Eggs could I find in a center filled with tens of thousands of eager game enthusiasts? Would I likely find love, like Wade Watts? Absolutely -- in fellow game designers sharing the same passion: creating games for the children.

I found three game designers, developers, and parents whose desire was to create games their daughters would enjoy. What a treasure to find likeminded individuals who were not focused on the lifetime gamer, but on children! I was not expecting to see others with my same exact passion. I was really expecting to find idealists who dominate the mindset on BGG where the games ranked the highest are perfect for the elite gaming experience. The real treasure I found was love of family, centered around creating memorable experiences those closest and dearest to us would value. Putting a bit of your love into a game for those you love is divine.


Hoby Chou, MY LITTLE SCYTHE

My favorite was MY LITTLE SCYTHE creator, Hoby Chou. He was energetic, passionate, sincere, cheerful, and delightful to listen to. He shared the story of how his daughter loved MY LITTLE PONY. He created the game around cooperation and friendship rather than conflict, yet kept the strong aspects of SCYTHE alive. He was able to simplify the rules so a child could understand them. He told me it took one month of design and eight grueling months of refining development. He graciously signed my copy on the front cover. I will cherish it forever. Thank you Hoby and Jamey Stegmaier.


Vincent Vergonjeanne, LUCKY DUCK GAMES

Vincent Vergonjeanne at Lucky Duck games was demoing the new Kickstarter launched game, JETPACK JOYRIDE. He also has a seven-year-old daughter providing him inspiration. The game follows another memorable app, FRUIT NINJA. The familiarity of the game is designed to bring families together at home, away from the digital addiction. The cartoon style art provides childish appeal, soft yet compelling. I was happy to hear how his brother was involved in the design. What a novel idea to engage children by creating something they already know and enjoy.


Lacy Mason, THE BATTLE FOR CUPCAKE MOUNTAIN

Another parent on entrepreneur’s row is Lacy Mason, who works on SESAME STREET. Talk about a recipe for fun! Her eight-year-old daughter was part of the inspiration for her game, THE BATTLE OVER CUPCAKE MOUNTAIN. It's a co-op game incorporating songs from Parry Grippe together with sparkles, pink cupcakes, unicorns, and rainbows. Wearing a cupcake dress added to the appeal of Lacy's presentation booth. Her story really touched my spirit and heart. While a full demo version of the game was not ready, her prototype caught my attention.

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet Hoby, Vincent, and Lacy and for their desires to make games not about the elite gamer, but for the love of our children. It was an inspiring convention. One I will never forget.