Roll For Insight: Ryan’s Life Spent At Play

August 30, 2018 by brennon

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A couple of months ago, the entire studio packed up and went to UK Games Expo. It was a hectic week with all hands on deck. We had an amazing setup and division of labour with camera teams, presenters, editors and writers all coming together to deliver a plethora of content.

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I was in the mix doing a little bit of camera work, lots of live blog writing and excitingly for me interviewing game designers. We had a lot of fun too tricking Justin into a game about not saying a particular word or he would have to do ten push-ups...he did a lot of push-ups that week. But in the middle of it all, I realised something that stopped me dead for five minutes: I was working in games!

I knew very early on that games were the thing for me. Perhaps even before I understood what games were. My mum still remembers my older siblings playing on the new SNES games console they had gotten. Not old enough to play yet at three years old, she remembers me watching: mesmerised by what was happening on screen.

Playing video games became a constant from then on. What would really change things for me was one called Final Fantasy VII. A game that both redefined the RPG landscape but also expanded what games could do, FFVII was notorious for tears shed across the world over a beloved character. As it did for many others, this game had a profound effect on me. Just playing video games wasn’t enough for me anymore. But tabletop games also lingered in the background.

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On family holidays to remote parts of Ireland, I would hope it would rain so we could all sit inside and play Monopoly. To me, no caravan or camping trip was complete without playing folk games like Whist, Old Maid or Cheat on a deck of fifty-two cards. And even though I got to play these games, it was never enough to just play them once or twice.

It is interesting to me that my own compulsion to play has seen very few borders. From video games to sports to tabletop games, to perhaps flirting with the rule boundaries at school, I consider my time on this spinning marble to be one constantly at play. But it’s not just about playing.

To me, games have always been an important medium of expression for developers and players. One of my favourite board games - Dream On - captures the very essence of chaotic play but is still able to structure a kind of order through its rule structure. Another board game - Revolution - so perfectly revolves around secret bidding mechanics that play on the social dynamics of the group. Games deserve to be evangelised and held up with great works from music, film and television. I focused very hard on this idea during my academic studies and I got very far. But just doing that is not enough for me.

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Standing looking down over Hall 1 at UK Games Expo this year absolutely floored me. I got to wear my On Tabletop T-shirt and be a part of everything going on: interviewing developers, doing camera work for the other presenters and contributing to getting the word out about this wonderful medium.

At the studio, I get to edit videos about board games and explain rules during lets plays. I get to write reviews about some of the best games around and think about their mechanical innovations. I get to work in games and be a part of a media team that is at the forefront of board games. Working here lets me analyse board game up close so I can pick apart their design and see what works. All of these experiences funnel into my own game design projects. The community on the website has even inspired me to take up a crafting hobby to help in these projects - woodworking. I don’t just get to do one specific thing but a variety of things that contribute to this medium.

For a life so far spent constantly at play: this might just be enough.

If you have any questions for Ryan sure to fire them into the comments below.

"For a life so far spent constantly at play: this might just be enough..."

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