If you had told 18 year old me that I'd ever be attempting to get a game company on its feet, I'd have said you were crazy. It wouldn't have been for a lack of desire; it was just one of those things that doesn't really fall into the realm of "normal jobs." I had run plenty of live action games by the time I was 18. Mostly one-shot or serial games that last a few sessions. It seemed like something that I was good at. I ran the old Mind's Eye Theater Vampire system from 16 to 18 before I started getting interested in doing something different. Back then, the idea of making it a professional pursuit probably went out the door when I asked a Wizards of the Coast game designer about it during a Q&A and got a non-answer.
I really started dipping into game design when friend of mine started proposing the idea that we homebrew systems to do the things that we wanted to do. At the table, we created our own systems for superhero games, heavily modified D&D rules, and even applying settings from one rule set to a rule set that we liked better. As far as LARPing went, in theater form, between the two of us we ran a serial game taking place on an abandoned space station, one-shot Star Trek games, a one shot of a game that was basically the concept of True Blood about eight years ahead of its time, a game where supernatural prisoners get stranded on an island (imagine Lost but with werewolves and psionics), Star Wars, and even a Forgotten Realms theater game. Superheroes was another... and I'm sure I'm missing many more.
That was all before we realized we could make everything better by hitting each other with plumbing supplies. That started an entirely new journey, which I'm sure will be the subject of many other blog posts that I will write.
As we got older, our creative bug matured. Eventually, a day came when we were put into a position that the only way to truly use all of our ideas would be to start our own game company. I was away at school working on my teaching degree. Ideas were tossed around over Ventrilo during late night sessions of City of Heroes or World of Wacraft. We weren't sure what to start with; the idea of putting together a board game or a tabletop role-playing game first was still on the table, but ultimately we decided that the LARP, possibly the biggest of all the projects we were considering, had to be first. For years we hammered out lore in our brief meetings. We built a world. We wrote a history book. We invented metaphysics.
And now? We own a business. Our rules are in the final testing phases. Our first event is six months away, from today.
It's exciting, but it's also weighing on me. We went from planning by typing up random ideas onto word documents to adding layers and layers of professionalism to our process. I've had to learn skills that I never needed before when I was just writing plots for other people's games. I've watched hours of YouTube tutorials teaching me how to use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. I've had to learn to understand legalese that I never had a need for before, and plunge deep into my own modest pockets to get the ball rolling. I've had to identify reliable creative types and place trust in a lot of people. I've had to pull from skills I've learned in various jobs I've had in the past, such as teaching, managing retail, and even as someone that planned a Summer camp program.
Not a single skill I've managed to acquire in my life has gone wasted in getting this project moving. The good thing is, I've been lucky enough along the way to form new friendships with extremely talented individuals, and have gotten to experience the feeling that people truly believe in what we are doing. That has kept this project going, and it is what makes me, after coming home from 12 hours of working two different jobs every day, manage to fit hours of work in between online classes and maintaining a social life.
Not everyone gets that this is a job. I have family that I'm sure thinks I'm crazy when I plop down in front of my computer and say I'm 'working' after I've just come home from two other jobs. Some people might wonder why people like me get to climb on a soap box and talk about this sort of stuff. I'm not really sure what qualifies me to, other than that I have experience measured in sweat, and that I have a voice that often has things to say.
Either way, I hope that all of these skills I've applied to getting this thing going, as well as all of the new skills I've forced myself to acquire, end up paying dividends in the form of a professional game that people can use as a creative outlet. I know that there is a whole new frontier of work to be done once the game finally opens, but I feel prepared for it, and I feel like the team that has assembled at the starting line with me will do wonders to put on a good show.