Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Going Cardboard gets its first laurels

A few weeks ago, I reported that Going Cardboard had been accepted into the 2012 Gen Con Indy Film Festival. While that was exciting news to read, there's something about seeing the actual laurels that takes it up a knotch. :)

If you're attending Gen Con Indianapolis this August 16 - 19, look for Going Cardboard on the schedule!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More screenings

First, just wanted to make sure people were aware, I've added ConnectiCon to the screenings list, AAAAAAAND the film was just accepted into the GenCon Indy Film Festival, and will be showing at GenCon in Indianapolis, IN, August 16th - 19th. I'm certainly not done adding screening dates, so if you know of a con that could stand a screening, holler back! ;) Especially overseas cons, I don't have enough of those on the map.

View Going Cardboard Screenings in a larger map

And then there's this:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Catan short films

So suddenly we have not one, but two shorts covering the godfather of designer gateway games, The Settlers of Catan. This is great! 'The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends,' a short documentary video about The Settlers of Catan. I read about it on slashfilm.com.

Very interesting to compare/contrast with the new Wil Wheaton web series about board games, especially given that the latest episode of that is about the very same Settlers of Catan.

My initial reaction to the Wheaton version was that the dialog felt forced. Others have commented about several rules mistakes in the play session. It's natural to be hyper-critical of something like this, so I'm trying to take it and appreciate the fact that someone with some serious celebrity status is bringing attention to tabletop gaming. That said, I think I like the Cheel effort better in this case. It might not do as smooth a job of recruiting new players, but it just felt more authentic to me.

Rumor has it, the CEO of my own company is a ruthless Catan player. I always wondered if it might be a career-limiting move for me to challenge him to a game...

Friday, April 20, 2012

PAX East

Just wanted to share a couple quick videos from PAX East.  It was a BLAST, though I was only there on Friday.  What a Friday it was, though.  For starters, at a convention with tens of thousands of people milling around, I bumped into Scott Nicholson almost immediately. :)  Board gaming ensued:

10 PM arrived before I knew it, and it was time to screen Going Cardboard!  It was so cool to actually be holding a panel event at this convention. There was a good-sized audience in attendance, and I couldn't help but capture a little of their reaction on my phone.


After the screening and a robust Q&A session, I was able to get in a couple games of Jungle Speed and Spot It! with the Geek Nights guys and their splinter cell of board gamers. Both of those were must-have titles!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Boston Globe looks at designer gaming

It's been a crazy few weeks, but I wanted to give you all a heads-up on an article coming out in this Sunday's Boston Globe. It's about designer gaming, and it's a much lengthier treatment than is typically seen by the mainstream press. The author, Leon, really did his homework and spoke with many designers and publishers, both established and indie, as well as watching my documentary.

I was really impressed with the amount of research time he put into this. I would encourage everyone to share this article. Let's send a message that the topic has value and the attention was well-warranted.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Going Cardboard has launched

It's been one hell of a week, but the long-awaited day has arrived.  Going Cardboard is completed, in stock, and available for sale!  You can purchase the film either directly at www.goingcardboard.com, or, if you are putting together a combo gift, you could order a board game along with it via GameSalute.com, our partner distributor.

As Kickstarter backers started to receive their copies this week, I held my breath. Would they like it? What would the feedback be like? The designer board gaming crowd can be quite critical about their hobby, and I was really hoping the film would live up to expectations, and be worth the wait.

It appears that so far, they like it. They really like it!

Here are a couple initial reviews:

A Kickstarter Christmas: Going Cardboard — a documentary about board games

and a video review!

New screenings continue to pop up, and I've just added 3 new dates to the screenings schedule - two in Nashville (one's coming right up, March 9), and one in St. Louis! More to come. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Children vs. Designer Games

I've seen blog articles from time to time from moms who tried introducing their young kids to designer games like The Settlers of Catan, only to have the experience end badly when one child or another throws a fit related to losing the game. These entries are borderline accusative in tone: "You all led me to believe that board gaming would be a rewarding experience for my child, but it was horrible!" They conclude that gaming is a bad option, that their child is just too young (which maybe true in some cases) and that the wisest course of action is to retreat to the tv room.

I want to share my own experience, because I almost fell into the same trap, despite everything I know about the virtues of designer gaming as a teaching tool.

We have a 4 year-old boy and a 6 year-old girl, and we've been teaching them to play designer board games. A few weekends ago, we broke out Incan Gold. This is a press-your-luck style game where you venture into a temple, Indiana Jones-style, and try to collect as many gems as you can while getting out before the expedition's untimely end at the hands of snakes, rockslides, spiders, and so forth.

So my 4 year old son is the last one in the temple, and he just keeps pressing his luck for the sheer joy of revealing the next card and amassing more riches. We keep warning him that he better get out soon, but he didn't comprehend the reasoning of why. So when the spiders got him, and we broke the news that he would keep none of the treasures in front of him, it happened. He burst into tears, and ran off to hide behind the couch and cry. I tried to bring him around, but it just wasn't happening, so the game pretty much ended there.

It was not a good experience, not for anyone involved.

The following weekend, we announce we are going to play a board game again. His first request? "Incan Gold, Mommy, can we play Incan Gold?" Now I was a little surprised at this, and we'd had a secret conversation a few minutes before where we'd decided we would play Ave Caesar instead since Incan Gold had been a bust last time. I didn't expect he'd want a rematch. But of course I was happy to encourage it, thinking to myself that this time I would be more explicit about the risks involved, so at least he understood his choices more clearly.

So we played again, and on the first round, his big sister was the last one in the temple, and got buried under a rockslide. She'd observed the whole affair last time, and to my delight, she took it in good spirit, flipping her stuffed puppy upside down and declaring, "Butterscotch got buried!"

Colin also met some bad ends during the course of the game, but he too took it well, and at the end of the game, who was the fair and square winner? COLIN. You should have seen his face.

I can't even count the ways this was a good learning experience for both of them. And it was a learning experience for me too. Look what I would have denied them had I quit at the first sign of adversity, just thrown up my hands and said, "Oh, that was just no fun, we can try it again in a few years when they're older." and left him with just that initial experience, the feeling of not only having lost, but of having ended the game for everyone else? What kind of long-term memory of gaming would THAT have been?

Compare that to the triumph of the second session, even if he hadn't won it, and it's just night and day. One thing we do not want to teach our kids is that when the going gets tough, it's time to walk away. Now granted, for some kids, they ARE too young, but it reminded me not to give up after one initial bad experience, because a golden growth moment could be just around the corner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

See you at PAX East

Just a little update to the screenings list I wanted to mention; PAX East.

Yes, it's official. Going Cardboard will be screening at PAX East. It's tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 6th, at 9:30 PM in the Arachnid room (how thoughtful, they clearly know of my intense love for spiders). I will be there, and I hope to see you New Englanders there too! I'll continue to add screenings as they are booked, of course.

Last night I did battle with mailmerging the Kickstarter mailing lists onto shipping labels. This morning I woke up at 5 and couldn't sleep, so I went downstairs and started assembling more components packs. It's like how chickens know when an earthquake is coming; the DVDs are being printed up this week, and are going to be shipping out VERY soon (on the scale of hours from now more than days, and definitely not weeks).

Here it comes, Khan...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Going Cardboard Has Gone Gold

This is the part where I get to make the long awaited and super-clever announcement: Going Cardboard has gone gold!

Yesterday afternoon, the final proof copy of the DVD arrived. I tested it out on the XBox and PS3. Today it was tested on a regular DVD player, a PC, and a Mac. All systems go. They also ran a triple-check test to ensure that the DVD is also Region-free.

A little while ago, I gave the official green light to the manufacturer. The word is given.

So within a week or two, the DVDs will be here. And then we cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!

Oh, and guess what else happened today? The official IMDb listing for Going Cardboard went up! Don't get TOO excited; there's nothing there yet but the most basic of information, but I'll change that in short order.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Screenings Schedule

Official list of screenings for Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary.

View Going Cardboard Screenings in a larger map

July 13 - 15, 2012
Hartford, Connecticut

July, 2012
Aukland, New Zealand
Board Games by the Bay Con

August 16 - 19, 2012
Indianapolis, Indiana
GenCon Indy Film Festival

September 1, 2012
10:30 PM, Unicorn Theatre
Seattle, Washington
PAX Prime


Berlin, Germany
Esperanto Screening

MIT, Cambridge, MA
GAMBIT Game Film Series

University of Maryland, College Park, MD
ThatCamp Games

Berlin, Germany
Das FilmCafe

2/17 - 18/2012
(2/17 4PM; 2/18 5PM)
Los Angeles, CA
Orccon 2012 (Strategicon)

2/17 - 18/2012
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Game Summit

Saturday, noon and 7 PM
Mansfield, MA

Indianapolis, IN
Who's Yer Con

Bucharest, Romania

March 9 - 11, 2012
Nashville, TN
Tennessee Game Days

March 17, 2012
Winter Park, FL
Cool Stuff Games

March 22 - 25, 2012
Vancouver, WA

March 23 - 25, 2012
Memphis, TN
MidSouthCon 4/6/2012
Boston, MA
PAX East 2012

April 9th and 10th, 2012
Ashland, OR
Funagain Games

April 13 – 15, 2012
Chicago, IL
Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo

April 21, 2012
Manchester, NH
Myriad Games

May 17 - 20, 2012
St. Louis, MO
Geekway to the West

May 25 - 27, 2012
Birmingham, UK
UK Games Expo

June 22 - 24, 2012
Belfast, Ireland

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Premiere Screening Night for Going Cardboard

This past Thursday night was a huge milestone for the film - my first screening in front of a live audience of people I didn't know personally. The film had screened earlier this month in Berlin, Germany (also awesome given it's ties to German board gaming), but this was the first showing in the US, and also the first one I would be at, and it included a Q&A session afterward. Nervous does not begin to describe. The film is basically done at this point, but a public screening like this gave me the chance to observe audience reaction, and another viewing to assess the need for any final edits or tweaks.

The screening took place as part of the GAMBIT film series, put on by the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. The theme was movies about gaming, and Jason Scott's Get Lamp was shown the following evening. The event was free to the public, and it took place in the swanky and iconic domed building at MIT. I got a little walking tour of the campus before-hand, which included a peek into the room where the screening was to be held.

Around 6:45 we started setting things up, and people were already filtering in at that point. A number of good friends I hadn't seen in ages came, and it was very comforting to know I had allies in the room. My editor, Jason Scott, was in attendance, as was Greg Lam, an indie designer who runs Pair-of-Dice Games and is featured in the film.

The audience starts to form

Before I knew it I was welcoming the audience and giving a totally noob intro, and then the lights went down and the movie started. I scuttled off to the back of the room to try and watch both the crowd and the film at the same time. I think there were 40 - 50 people in total, which felt like quite a lot. Finally, about 10 minutes into the showing, the constant stress and tension I'd been feeling for the prior two days melted away. People were enjoying it. They were paying attention, laughing at the right moments, and by the end of the screening, nobody had walked out.

The lights came up to a round of applause that I will totally never get used to but is an amazing feeling, and we dove right into the Q&A. The questions were good, there were plenty of them, and I think my answers were more or less on target. The Q&A lasted about half an hour I think, and then I got to chat with people for another half hour or so, and then a bunch of us went to Legal Seafoods to celebrate. It felt like such a perfect culmination of all the hard work over the past three years, and while that work isn't done quite yet (there's that small matter of a DVD to create, and a schedule of screenings to organize and publicize, marketing to be done, etc.) it was unbelievably gratifying and very much an "it all comes down to this and it was worth it!" night.

So the night before, I couldn't sleep due to nervousness. That night, I couldn't sleep due to cloud 9 syndrome. I woke up very tired but still thrilled around 5 AM the next day to get ready for work. One final surprise was waiting for me. A review was already up for the film! And it was a positive review! And it was thorough, and they'd clearly been paying attention and... oh what's this? This review was written by ANDREW PLOTKIN??? OMG! He's a major mind in the field of text adventures. I'd seen him at the screening and recognized him right away because he's in Get Lamp, and had gone over to say hi. It was already an honor just to have him there at the event, but then for the first-ever review of Going Cardboard to be written by someone like that? Too cool. Far, FAR too cool.

There is more work to do. There will be more screenings, and there will be more Q&A sessions, and doubtless more fun moments to come (and frustrations/haters/bad reviews/criticism too of course), but I could not have crafted a better premiere. The MIT Game Lab has my undying gratitude for making it all possible.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Island Fortress on Kickstarter

Hey all!

So, I wanted to bring your attention to a particular Kickstarter by one Bryan Johnson, for a game called Island Fortress.

Here's the project on Kickstarter. It's got 11 days to go, and it's going well, but you ought to get in on it if you can. Why? Because Bryan plays a big part in my film, and after watching it, you will probably want to have seen his Kickstarter succeed. :)

And when will you be watching it? Soon, my friend. SOON.