My Game Design and Prince

As many of you know, I am a huge Prince friend (we don’t use the word fan). And I was asked by a few people why I dedicated my first ENnies to his spirit and memory.

Well…Through the years, I’ve listened to his music and absorbed the many lessons he attempted to show the world through his business acumen, his experimentation, and his faith. In process, I started taking a lot of those lessons and applying them to my life, like he was a modern day Confusius or something.

One thing he fought for was control of his own music. Even at the start, he wouldn’t sign a contract unless they let him produce himself. Likewise, I often find myself in my most creative space when I have no one looking over my shoulder, no one directing me what to write or when. My game Sins of the Father came about this way, as did a lot of my early games, and each one was a masterpiece to me. I was happy that others found some good in them too, with many of them getting 2nd Editions that have been raved about, and Sins of the Father even being nominated for best game.

But that’s just the thing. I love getting recognition and the awards are nice, but I’ve taken another lesson from Prince. He was a beacon for musical creativity, and I have made myself the same for game design. Even without the money, without the awards, even without the fans, I’d be designing games. It flows through me even when I don’t try. This is why I love jumping in on design discussions, playtesting others’ games, and I buy a ton of games so I can explore the fresh tapestry of what others are creating. I immerse myself in game design, and I write even if I don’t know who my audience is. Sometimes, my audience is just me.

I get asked all the time “how do you find the time to do so much” and “wow! Why are you so prolific?” Hell, I realized while at GenCon that I apparently designed three new systems in the last year, all of which were on sale at the show (and sold well). And this is my answer. I create because I must. I feel lucky, blessed, or whatever other positive word you want to use, that others have gravitated to my work. I know that I may never be one of the big publishers, but there are people out there who dig what I do, who understand my ideas, who are behind me in my mission of creating games for everyone in my own way. But honestly, I was creating before there was any money involved, before my name began climbing the industry ladder, before that name appeared in any book. I wrote because the ideas just wouldn’t stop, and that hasn’t changed just because I do it as a career now.

There are things about relationships, love, sex, identity, creativity, etc. that Prince also taught me through his music, but the biggest thing that still sticks with me is that creating is the most important thing we can do as humans. Whatever it is that you create, never let it get away from you.

Also, remember, love4oneanother is paramount.

I have many things I’m currently working on, including follow-ups for existing game lines, like AMP: Year One and Part-Time Gods, and worlds for the Pip System, but I have about 4 other new games in the works as well. I keep busy.