The History of The Hackers Guild Part 1 : Why I Decided to Create a Board Game

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Over the last two years as I have been developing The Hackers Guild, I have been asked a number of times about why I decided to create a board game, and why a board game about hacking. I also had a request from Matthew Peckham, who backed the original Kickstarter last October, for a blog post on a history of some of the design decisions that were during the design of the game and some of the reasoning behind them. While it isn’t quite as prompt as originally planned, I’m creating this series in response to these inquiries. Today’s post is going to cover some of the events that led up to deciding to create a board game, as well as why The Hackers Guild was design as a cooperative game.

Why I decided to create a board game

Like most, my love of board games started as a child playing some of the “classics” like Scrabble, Risk, Clue, and Monopoly. My siblings and I also spent time designing board games for us to play together, and often would talk about how it would be fun to have a game published and made available for purchase in stores. While it never went further than that, this was the start of my journey as a board game designer.

Ticket To Ride Europe, by Days of Wonder, was the first hobby game I purchased. I was first exposed to the hobby board game scene in 2008. I believe that the first hobby game I played was Munchkin Quest, and I’m pretty sure the first hobby game I purchased was Ticket To Ride: Europe. While my collection hasn’t grown much since then, I have continued to enjoy playing a wide variety of games with Pandemic, Agricola, Descent 1st Edition, and Twilight Struggle being some of my favourites.

In January of 2015, I quit my job as a System Administrator for the local school division to spend more time with my kids. While I enjoy being a stay at home dad, I still spent a good amount of time, energy, and money in 2015 looking for ways to replace the lost income. Finally in December of 2015, I woke up one morning and had this sudden inspiration that I should design a board game, put it on Kickstarter, and hopefully start making some money that way. I was going to accomplish all of this in a couple months and life would be great. However, reality quickly set in as I spent time learning more about board game design and the Kickstarter platform.

Why I decided to create a cooperative board game with a hacking theme

Pandemic Elder Sign As eluded to earlier, I have a background in computer networking, and while I have no direct experience with computer hacking, defending against cyber attacks is one of the many responsibilities of a network administrator. Because of this background, I felt that hacking was a natural fit for my first board game design.

As a gamer, I enjoy the occasional competitive board game. However, it isn’t a fluke that Pandemic is one of my favourite board games, with other coops on the list as well. While The Hackers Guild started as a competitive game, it is this love of cooperative board games that led me to ultimately decide on designing The Hackers Guild as a cooperative board game. In fact, Pandemic and Elder Sign have both played a huge role in influencing the game play of The Hackers Guild.

I hope that helped shed some light on the decisions behind making a board game in the fist place, and then making that game a cooperative game. In part two of the series, I will talk about some of the design decisions that were made as I developed the version of The Hackers Guild that hit Kickstarter in October of 2016. I hope you will check it out.

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