Welcome to Unscripted -- an easy-breezy off-the-cuff (too many hyphens?) Q&A series with Rose Gauntlet Entertainment founders and tabletop game designers Isaac Vega and Lindsey Rode. Perfect with a side of tea or coffee.
Tis' the season for gaming! With the holidays in full-swing, we’re checking in with Isaac and Lindsey to talk Friendsgiving, family mind games, and… <checks notes> burning games?
Alright, time to talk turkey. What will you be up to this Thanksgiving?
Lindsey: So I'm doing Thanksgiving at my house. It’ll be a full course meal made for seven people, however, it will only be two of us because I can't control myself <laugh>. I don't need to make so much food, but I will. And then I will try to find all possible neighbors to see if they wanted to eat food <laugh>, because there's way too much of it, but it's good practice because someday I hope to host my own family Thanksgiving.
Isaac: I'm very lucky in the fact that I'm doing a Friendsgiving hosted by some good friends who live across the street from me, and I’ll have some friends coming up from Austin, and my brothers who live in the area – I think about ten altogether and some pets <laugh>, so that’ll be a lot of fun. We're all bringing different dishes. One of the things that I'm going to bring is the first thing I ever made by myself in my life; a really good apple crisp. I still think that's my signature thing that I can do well. We're doing a Cajun style Turkey this year – I haven’t had a Cajun style Turkey before, so I'm excited about that. Also, everyone that's coming enjoys gaming, so there's going to be lots of board games. We’re going to try out Lacrimosa, I’m hoping to get Great Western Trail to the table and I'm hoping to do plenty of food coma, Pokémon Violet playing on the sofa, <laugh>.
Is gaming a big deal over the holidays in your households?
I: If I’m with friends, absolutely. If it's just family, uh, probably not <laugh>. Usually, we all sit and watch whatever the latest new movie is. Often, my mom, sister and I will enjoy doing a puzzle together or something like that. Kind of chill vibes. Last year I think we had one of these cool wooden owl puzzles that my friend Rachel put out. We all kind of participated in putting that one together and barely got it done <laugh>.
L: Yeah, so my family, the longer I've worked in the industry, the more my family has become aware of board games and really enjoys them. They usually ask me to bring a bunch of good stuff with me when I see them, however, trying to figure out what game they're talking about can be a challenge because they don't know the names of anything.
They'll be like, “Oh, bring the game where you like flick stuff.”
And I'm like, “You mean Flick 'em Up?”
And they're like, “No, no. You know the game where you're like flicking stuff at people”
And I'm like, “…that's Flick 'em Up. You want me to bring flick 'em up?”
And they're like, “No Junk Art. That's the name of it.” <laugh>.
So, it always leads to these really hilarious conversations of trying to figure out what game to bring them. But I think they really loved Junk Art last time, so I'll probably do that again. We did Throw Throw Burrito, which personally I like. My family had a great time and there were some funny memories so I can't bash that game because it's simple. It's just a ridiculous game <laugh>. And then I was thinking about trying to get them to do The Crew, trying to maybe teach them some new card mechanics and some, what's that? Isaac, help me out? The name of that?
I: Mm‑hmm. Trick Taking.
L: Yes, thank you. Trick taking games. I'm trying to kind of introduce them to the concept of trick taking games. I'd love to teach them how to play Euchre, but I think The Crew is probably the best way to introduce them to the concept so that teaching them other more complex games will be a little bit easier down the road. But yeah, other than that I'll just be subjecting them to my prototypes, which just always a mixed bag of reactions. <laugh>. I love my brothers. They will always tell me the truth. I can always trust my brothers and tell me how a game's doing every time.
Whew, teaching a new prototype after a plate of mac-and-cheese sounds daunting. How does it typically go teaching your family new games? Any apprehension from them?
L: Well, I just don't take their excuses <laugh>, cause my mom will say she doesn't know how to play it, and that she can't learn. I just tell her I don't believe her and that we're going to learn it together. And I find out every time that my mom CAN learn the game, she just doesn't have the confidence in herself. But once she learned a couple, she got a lot better. Plus, games build on each other, so once you learn some basics, you know, you learn more complex things and build off of that. So yeah, I think I just refused to let her use that as an excuse and made her play it anyway. I don't know if that's really good advice or not, but that is my tactic just to say like, “I absolutely can teach this game to you. So, sit down, you're not getting out of this.”
I: With my brothers, it's pretty easy. I don't usually have a big struggle. My brother Sam enjoys games like Eclipse and A Feast for Odin and things like that, but he's just not really that much of a gamer, which is weird because he totally gets into all that stuff. And he’s worked in the industry as well <laugh>! He doesn't love gaming consistently, but when he does, he'll totally sit down for something crunchy. My brother Paul is always way more down. I would say he's really into space and things like that. And my sister is super into like smaller puzzle-y style games. Like, I showed her Patchwork recently and she fell in love with it, and I just gave it to her because she was like so enamored by it. And then with my parents, I never really tried to do that much. It’s been a struggle enough having them understand that I actually even worked in board games.
It would be like, “Oh, you work in video games, right?” <laugh>.
It's like, “No, I've been working in board games for 10 years <laugh>! thank you mom and dad.”
I did actually get my mom into Rory's Story Cubes not that long ago. She got to make up little stories and she had a fun time with that. And we always play dominoes and some different card games. My mom also loves bingo. I don't know if that even counts as a game, but she enjoys that <laugh>?
L: it counts!
I: There’s also some stuff that they were already naturally into, but it hasn't necessarily been my intention because I've worked so long in games. Sometimes it's nice to have that family time outside of my work. So, I don't necessarily push it, but if they're interested sure, why not?
L: Yeah, I get bored. I get bored too easily, <laugh>. I can't… I can’t just sit there with my family. I have to do something.
I: <laugh> I like diving deep into their psyches and figuring out their old stories that I've never heard about or what's going on in their lives or things like that. So that's, that's always a game that I'm playing. <laugh>
L: A psychological thriller <laugh>.
Ok, let’s end with a weird one. You can go any direction with this, and to be clear it doesn’t mean you think the game is *bad*, but if you had to burn one game to survive the cold, what would it be?
L: You know, which one I would do? I'm so sorry Isaac, it would be SeaFall.
I: There you go <laugh>. You don’t have to apologize to me. I don't even have SeaFall <laugh>.
L: Oh, I'm so sorry.
I: I don't claim that game.
L: <laugh>. Yeah, it serves all the purposes. It's big, you only play it once, it's SeaFall.
I: I would say Rising Sun. Cause have you seen that game mat? It's fricking huge. That thing will keep me warm. I could just use it to wrap it around me.
L: Use it as a blanket! That's actually really smart.
I: And then burn it! The reason why is because I don't know where the hell to put that thing. It's always in different parts of my house because it's just, it's a large like tube. It's so huge!