A History of Board Games I’ve Invented

Recently I wrote about my love for board games and the best board games I’ve ever played. In that entry I mentioned that I will soon be launching a project for a board game I’ve designed with a friend–our launch date is tentatively set for August 25. I’ll mention it from time to time on this blog, but if you’re really into board games and want regular updates, you can check out the Stonemaier Games blog or our Facebook page.

Publishing a board game isn’t just a recent interest–it’s literally a lifelong passion of mine. I’ve been designing board games since I was a little kid. I loved the idea of creating a tangible, escapist way to play with others.

I’m fortunate that my parents have kept these games over the years. When I was home for Christmas this past year (around the time I started working on my board game), I took photos of all of these games. There are 12 in total, and you can see all of them on the Stonemaier Games blog. I’ve picked out a few to show you here. They’re listed in chronological order of creation below.

Medieval Quest

Medieval Quest: My first game. I loved castles and knights as a kid (heck, I still do), especially the tales of the Knights of the Round Table. I think I was around 7 or 8 when I made this game, so the words are too faded for me to read how it works.

Monster Quest

Monster Quest: I got a lot of monster miniatures for my birthday one year and wanted a structured way to play with them. I think that’s a common theme for a lot of these games–I wanted more structured ways to play with toys I owned.

Unabomer Game

Unabomer Game: This was probably my first good game, despite the unfortunate subject matter. Also, it was very similar to a cooperative board game that I had played a few times called Scotland Yard. One player is the Unabomer, and everyone else plays postal service detectives trying to stop the Unabomer and his letter bombs. Players have to narrow down the Unabomer’s secret location based on where the bombs go off. It played quite well.

The Impending Crisis

The Impending Crisis: My second modular game. The configuration of the board is randomly determined by a program on a TI-83 calculator. This was an agricultural game set along the banks of the James River in Virginia. The TI-83 program went well beyond the beginning of the game; it provided randomness based on real events in history depending on the stage of the game. This was a team effort; the computer program was actually created by a classmate of mine who went on to be one of the original engineers of Google Chrome (the web browser with which you should be reading this entry).

Tale of Genji

Tale of Genji: We had a “creative” element to our Tale of Genji class in Japan my junior year, so of course I opted to make a board game. At the time I was really focused on making a chess-type game–something universal and very simple to learn, but complex and difficult to master. I don’t think I quite succeeded to due to the amount of randomness, but it was an interesting challenge to stay on theme with the book. I also learned the value of playtesting…in that I didn’t playtest before revealing the game and playing it with my classmates.

Viticulture: The Vineyard Game

Viticulture: The prototype of version 14 of the game is shown here before the artist got his hands on it. You’ll hear plenty more about this game. It definitely feels like the culmination of a lifetime of creating board games.

What were your creative passions and dreams when you were a kid? Have any of them lasted into adulthood?