In the comments of yesterday's post Andy asked me if I consider a gamer's history when designing games. What a great question. Hence today's post. Firstly, in true politician style, I'd like to answer a related question: What is my gamer history?
I've always loved games. Some of my few memories from childhood are playing Mouse Trap and Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs at friends' houses when I was fairly young. In my early teens I got into roleplaying (mainly Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay), and Games Workshop miniature games: Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, Warhammer Fantasy Battle and epic-scale Space Marine. I also got into computer games on my PC, mainly roleplaying and strategy games, with a heathly (or unhealthy, depending upon your viewpoint) dose of first-person shooters. In my late teens I played quite a lot of Magic: The Gathering the seminal CCG, and more computer games. Through university it was mainly computer games, and then in America it was mostly Magic again. In Newcastle, I played quite a lot of Poker, and I was back to board games, mostly Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Since moving to York I've been trying to expand my knowledge of board games, trying to play as many new ones as possible. I've also played games on the computer a bit again. My gamer history has definitely had an effect on the games I'm interested in, I'm not adverse to dice, but I like a strategic game, where the choices I make can win (or lose) the game for me. I'm very busy (and always have been), so I don't like my games to take too long, but I'll make allowances for a really good game. I like gateway games, but party games not-so-much.
My designer history is almost entirely rooted in computer games. I've been designing bits (and very occasionally complete) computer games since I was about twelve. Recently (as in the last couple of years), I've been put off computer games design due to the increase complexity of computer games. It used to be that a competent computer programmer could write a production quality computer game by themselves. Now it requires a team almost as large as for making a film, and the costs are converging too. A board game is still a one (or two or small collective) effort, so that's where I've been concentrating my efforts.
Having answered two totally different questions in a politician-like manner, I'll now actually answer the question: No. Well, maybe a bit :-). When designing Border Reivers, I was trying to design a game I would like, that was similar to Mighty Empires and Risk, while being much shorter, and a bit more strategic. With my subsequent efforts (Codenames: Jorvik, Sennon and Dollyo), I've been trying to design a game for certain target markets, which does involve some consideration of whether your customers have played games before, and if so what sort they like. But I don't spend hours thinking that Game A will appeal to Magic players who have a roleplaying background, or anything like that.
In other news, I've been approach by another designer to see if I'd like to publish one of their games, and a mate at work has offered to do an online version of Jorvik in the hope it will get him some web-programming practice, and help me sell it. I'll be demoing it to him during our lunch break today, so he's got an idea of how it works.