Don’t Quit Your Day Job

In this (our first) edition of Meeple Speak, designer Michael Eskue writes about why he is not quitting his day job anytime soon.

Welcome to Meeple Speak. A new feature here at The Inquisitive Meeple we are testing, where we ask game designers to write a guest article.

We are honored for our first edition of Meeple Speak, to welcome guest writer, Michael Eskue. Designer of the hit game, Council of Verona (published by Crash Games). He also designed the recently successful Kickstartered game  Darkrock Ventures (being published by Gamelyn Games & Magic Meeple Games). 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

by Michael Eskue

Since I started designing games professionally, I’m sometimes asked the question “When are you going to quit your job and design full time?”  It’s flattering for someone to think that I may be successful enough to sustain a living that way, but I fill them in on the reality of hobby board game design.  Sure, there may be some designers who can make a living out of it, but I’m not even close to reaching that level… and that’s okay.  As much as I’d love to design games full time, my main drive is not the money.  I’m a fairly risk averse person and having to depend on the success of each game to feed my family would be too stressful.  Not to mention, my focus would need to change and I fear it may take some of the joy out of game design.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that if you “Choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life,” but it’s just not practical to entertain that idea just yet.  Even with some relatively successful projects, the earnings over the past few years have pretty much covered the cost of attending BGG.con, some local conventions, prototype materials, and filling some empty spaces on my game shelves.  As a hobby I enjoy, this is exactly what I need to continue and I can’t complain by any means.  I’ve worked with several independent publishers and each one has been more than generous.  Even though I have some financial interest, I keep in mind that these publishers have quit their day jobs so the stakes are so much higher for them.  I’ve let the idea of starting my own publishing company cross my mind, but after seeing what goes into that first hand, it’s not something I’m ready to jump into and I have tremendous respect for those who follow that dream.

So, if it’s not really about money, then why exactly do I spend so much time on this hobby?  I suppose I started because I enjoy games, had some ideas of my own, and thought it would be pretty cool to see other people playing (or actually enjoying) those games.  Even after a few years of getting games out there, it totally makes my day when I hear about someone enjoying one of my designs.  I realize that I have a long way to grow in my design experience and have fairly thick skin when it comes to low ratings or negative reviews.  There are games out there that I don’t enjoy, so I can’t possibly expect everyone to appreciate my designs.  However, even if one person finds enjoyment from a game design, the designer has succeeded to some degree and should be encouraged by that.

In terms of motivation and reward, that is only the beginning.  Stepping into the realm of game design has opened more doors and introduced me to more cool people than I ever would have imagined.  On top of meeting some amazing people, game design has given me an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.  Ultimately, that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Games are meant to be fun, and who better to share them with than your friends and family?  Throughout my endeavors, I’ve gotten to know awesome gamers, and though I haven’t met many of them in person, I’m thankful and honored to call them “friends.”  Cheers, amigos!


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