In early 2014 I attended one of the first INDY POPCON community events to begin meeting creative people in the area. The event had lots of folks, but also contained a side room where they were doing game demos from local creators. I will admit that I kept my distance at first, primarily because it seems to take me twice as long to comprehend game play mechanics then a normal person. I stood against the wall and watched folks enjoy themselves playing Heroes Wanted, and struck up a conversation with comic publisher Brian Wyrick about the game. Through our conversation, he explained that some of the characters in the game were also part of the HENCHMEN universe, a comic that he had published.
This conversation was the first moment that Independent Comics and Independent Gaming came crashing together in my brain, and the wheels started to turn. After a few minutes, I got up the courage and sat down to play the game, which was a good decision on my part. I also ended up picking up a copy of Henchmen, which was another great decision.
I left that night with the desire to figure out how I could compliment some of my published works with games that would further strengthen my brand and help me gain a wider audience. My first idea was to complete a children’s card game based on my book, No Sweets For Santa, that families could enjoy after eating pizza on Christmas Eve. Using the amazing artwork of Mark Mariano, artist of the book, I had circular cards created and started working on the rules. Things are coming along nicely and the game will be released this Fall.
You would think that’s the end of the story - Creator gets motivated, creates game, and lives happily ever after. Honestly, that would have been it, if I didn’t live in Indianapolis and cross paths with the Crit Confirm Podcasting group. The Crit Crew was part of the first INDYpendent Show in March and set up their table with microphones and various pieces of sophisticated equipment. I was curious how they would fill their time since there weren’t a ton of creators at the first show to interview and I thought most attendees would be too intimidated to sit down at the table and just chat.
As the show began, I noticed Moxie, (a member of the Crit Team), had broken out a small box containing dice and began interacting with folks who walked by to get them to have a seat. After an hour of running around, I finally made it over to see what was going on and I was introduced to the world of Rory’s Story Cubes. These simple dice contained pictures of items and actions and you rolled them, picked a set number, and then crafted a story that was then continued by the next person in the group that did the same thing. I had never seen a game so quickly become a tool to help encourage quick, creative encounters with strangers. Needless to say I was impressed.
Over the following months and constant meet ups with the Crit Confirm Crew, I realized how great story dice were as a way to inspire creativity in all ages of gamers. The wheels in my brain started turning again and the idea of using my Holiday Hooligans characters as “expansion dice” to compliment current story cube players dice sets, seemed like a logical decision. Unfortunately, intimidation and uncertainty set in again, especially since I had never dealt with any dice components and had no idea where to start.
Once again, living in Indianapolis and having a desire to support those in the creative community, allowed me to cross paths with another set of game creators and get me started on the right track. I had visited the grand opening of a gaming store on the North side of town called Hero’s Emporium and met Tyler Logan who was one of the creators of the new game, Super Turbo Bit Crawl. I looked at the game, put out by LM Studios and was impressed by how professional it looked, even more so after Tyler mentioned they had put these test editions together by hand.
Quickly my conversation turned to dice and how to solve my dilemma and Tyler was quick to give me some advice, websites, and tips on how to get started in the most economical fashion. This exchange of information exemplified what I like most about the independent creative culture. People who enjoy helping others find answers to their creative questions, instead of trying to guard their secrets like a giant monopoly. Through that conversation I was able to create test editions of my story cube expansion packs and have come to realize how popular that market is.
As I dip my toe in the waters of game creation and promotion for the rest of the year, my eyes have been opened to the possibilities of cross-promotion between the game community and independent comic scene. If you are the type that considers yourself strictly a “comic book” creator and don’t see the need for interacting with the amazingly creative folks in the gaming field, I think you owe it to yourself to find some events where you can ask questions, play some new games, and begin to see the potential.
All the Best!
***If you enjoy reading blogs about creative things around town, I highly recommend you visit Tony Troxell's page at: Geeking In Indiana.