Today we are featuring Marc Davis from the Thoughtful Gamer. Marc started The Thoughtful Gamer in March of 2017. He wanted to provide the kinds of resources he wanted to see in the board gaming community--critical reviews, thoughtful commentary, and interesting discussions. Soon after, he found himself also doing a podcast, and now he’s starting to creep into video stuff. Perhaps, someday, he will actually design one of the many games in his bucket of ideas. Outside of board games, Marc also enjoys cooking, depressing and esoteric movies, and golf. Marc is a Christian and has half of a philosophy degree, which is functionally the same as no philosophy degree, but more obnoxious. He is married to a completely and fully wonderful woman named Amber. Marc will be joining us at the Granite Game Summit in March!
THREE RANDOM FACTS ABOUT MARC:
Marc’s primary hobby throughout high-school and college was competitive debate. He still coaches some local teams.
At one point Marc considered trying to be a professional film critic. He decided that the field was dying and that there was no money in it. Board game criticism is obviously much more lucrative.
Marc once broke his arm and didn’t know it. It healed bent.
Questions by Kimberly Revia (KR), answers by Marc Davis (MD).
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT BOARD GAME MEDIA RELATED QUESTIONS:
KR: What initially got you interested in creating board game content?
MD: I fell in love with board games a few years ago and whenever I get into a hobby I dive in deep. I love to research it and find out the history, schools of thought, and work that goes into creating it. When I started learning more and more about the board gaming hobby I grew more and more interested.
I should mention that I adore criticism generally, and when I thought about all of the awesome game design I was seeing in these games I knew I wanted to write about it somehow. I researched more and found that there wasn’t a lot of deeper criticism and discussion about board games out there. I wasn’t seeing the kinds of reviews I wanted to read. So I decided to make them. Eventually I got the opportunity to spend more time working on it as a major project. Now I’m a podcaster (who knew?) and nearing the 1 year anniversary of The Thoughtful Gamer.
KR: How did you decide to branch out from blogging and into pod-casting?
MD: I don’t really listen to many podcasts, but I knew that they were a popular medium for discussion. I originally conceived The Thoughtful Gamer as primarily written with, perhaps, a slow move into some video stuff. One day I looked into what it would take to actually do a podcast and found that it was far less expensive than I had thought. So I bought a mic, figuring I’d find some use for it if pod-casting didn’t work.
It turns out that I love podcasting and I’ve had a great time with it. The discussion format is great, and it allows a different type of communication that writing doesn’t do as well. I’ll always appreciate the written word as a medium for precise communication, there’s something about a discussion that works on a different level. I suppose Plato already figured that out thousands of years ago, but whatever.
KR: How do you divide your time for content creation?
MD: Here’s where I destroy all credibility. I generally prep between 2 and 30 minutes for podcasts. A half-page of notes literally results in impressed and mocking statements from my co-casters. I am a notorious non-notetaker and tend to let ideas and thoughts waft in and out of my brain. I call it “brewing thoughts”. I mean, I trained for 9 years in extemporaneous speaking and it works hand in hand with my own natural laziness, so why not use it?
My writing is about 10% clarity of thought and 90% despair. Like trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube when you well know that there’s none left (and really, how much does toothpaste cost, anyway? No, seriously. I haven’t bought toothpaste since I got married 5 years ago. I think my wife bought in bulk right after the ceremony or she sneaks new toothpaste in amongst other shopping.)
Another metaphor: think of a fish in a box trying to escape. But deep down it knows that it has the resources to escape somewhere within it. I’m trying to organize my life more to clear my thoughts out. We’ll see how it works.
Too much time is spent on twitter. I tell myself that I’m communicating with other people in the industry and getting topic ideas. It’s only partially a lie. I’m writing this right now because of an opportunity I found through twitter.
THREE QUESTIONS JUST FOR FUN:
KR: If you could re-theme any one game which would you choose?
MD: I’m being completely honest when I say that I can’t really think of one. I tend to think of the theme and the game itself as necessarily inseparable. If I were to “re-theme” a game I’d have to change the game mechanisms by necessity.
Okay, I suppose if that’s not the case I’d prefer if they’d drop the pretense of a theme altogether. Like with Codenames. Vlaada, I love you, but you’re not fooling anyone.
KR: Do you have any game night rituals? (snacks, logging plays, same group etc)
MD: I tend to play with the same friend group. Rituals include: me trying to play 7 Wonders and Ben vetoing the suggestion. Me trying to get Amber to play Terra Mystica and failing. When we play Space Alert we frequently take “victory shots” when we win a mission. If we lose we take consolation shots.
KR: What world or setting from a book do you think would make a great game?
MD: I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, so I was going to suggest that, but I think there is a new game with that setting. There’s a very, very strange Asimov book called The Gods Themselves that (spoiler warning!) features our world interacting with a parallel alien world through the exchange of matter. Due to different physical realities it’s (ostensibly) a mutually beneficial exchange. There’s also a lot of weird incorporeal alien sex, but that wouldn’t need to be part of it. I think the parallel universe thing could be used very interestingly in a board game.
…..and now I’m going to throw that in my game design idea bin.
You can find more about Marc and The Thoughtful Gamer by following the links below!