6 – Steve Jackson’s In Place interview
Steve Jackson is an American game designer.
In the early 1980s he became the youngest game designer to be inducted in the Origins Awards Hall of Fame and founded Steve Jackson Games. His notable creations include the role-playing game GURPS ( “Generic Universal Roleplaying System” – 1986) , the strategy card game Munchkin (2001) and the dice games Zombie Dice (2010) and the fantastic ILLUMINATI – The Game of Conspiracy (1982).
From his games you can say he’s very smart and for inference that he’s an enthusiastic gamer, but from chatting with him on email we’ve also discovered he’s a very kind and helping person!
ilgiocointavolo.it: What do you think is missing from board games today to spread?
Steve Jackson: I think we need a stronger network of game stores, clubs, and bars, because the games we have today are very spreadable, and just need more ways to reach a wider audience.
ilgiocointavolo.it: Do you agree with the philosophy of our website that it is important to spread the use of board games in all age groups and aggregation occasions?
Steve Jackson: Yes and no. Obviously I am biased – I love games and love playing. But I have found instances where the introduction of a game causes problems, either because it’s the wrong game (no fun) or because the group is not cohesive enough to start with.
ilgiocointavolo.it: Could you suggest one or more boardgames that could do the miracle and create fun when there isn’t and cohesiveness where there’s division (according to your experience)?
Steve Jackson: As to fun – there is no miracle there. Lots of hobby games are fun. The problem is that most “educational” games, and many “workshop simulations” and the like, are created by people with no experience of design and quite possibly no concept of what makes fun. You can’t just call something a game and say that it’s fun. So my advice would be to avoid all such “educational” stuff in favor of a game that you know is fun, regardless of how it does or doesn’t match up with the subject of the work.
Cohesiveness where there is division – That’s a management problem that can’t be papered over by a game. Games are wonderful but not the solution for everything! If the participants come in with a bad attitude, they will merely scoff – “Now they’ve got us playing games? What next?”
ilgiocointavolo.it: What is your favorite board game?
Steve Jackson: Oh, that’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child. So I will name two games that I like very much, not my own, that I have been playing recently: Terraforming Mars and Century.
ilgiocointavolo.it: How do you manage to find the time to play with it?
Steve Jackson: With great difficulty! The days are too short, and often, when we schedule a game at work, it is interrupted by some random phone call or urgent need.
ilgiocointavolo.it: Have you found any boardgame that is good in a working context ? For example to prepare a meeting or a brainstorming ?
Steve Jackson: Actually, I have not. If you find one, please tell me!
ilgiocointavolo.it: Can you tell us about your first experience with boardgames ?
Steve Jackson: I learned MONOPOLY with my family, as a small child, and really enjoyed it. Still do!
In high school I invented a chess variant and my friends and I played it. My firs experience in a really active game environment was in college. We played chess and Risk, and sometimes Borodino, in the evenings. On some weekends we’d get together and play one of the really long SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc. n.d.r.) games like Strategy 1.