Designing Women: Adrienne Ezell

Years of design work on other games recently prompted game and graphic designer Adrienne Ezell to step out on her own. Her first game, Shogunate, won the Geekway to the West design contest and she spent a good chunk of 2018 as special guest and panelist at numerous conventions, talking in particular about art in games.

What got you started playing board games?

I’ve been gaming since I could read. My family started me with cribbage, Mille Bornes, and rummy. I’ve never looked back! After getting into RPGs and narrative rich games I started making my own, because I felt like I had a story to tell as well.

What are you working on right now?

I had an amazing con season and got to special guest at several cons including SHUX, FanExpo Toronto, Tabletop Network Game Designer’s Conference. 2018.

I was fortunate to attend over 20 cons in 2018, including Gen Con and Origins and am happy to say I have 3 designs under consideration with awesome publishers. 
I am a full time host of On Board Game podcast and a contributor to the Design 100. I am excited to be a judge for the The Board Game Workshop Design Contest.

What do you think about the design process?

Board game designing is my favorite sandbox. It’s rewarding to bring people fun in a box. I like to start with all the bells and whistles and then pare things away till I find the fun and get the mechanics to marry with the theme so that my games have rules that are easy to digest and quick to get to the table. The math is something I get bogged down with. I know just enough to know that there is a “solution” to proper balance in my games, however, spreadsheets are not my favorite thing!

Whats your favorite game?

Board Game: Concordia CCG/LCG: Netrunner
RPG: Shadowrun
Game(s) that always inspire me to get to work on my own: Feast for Odin and Galaxy Trucker.

Do you finding the community supportive? The community is incredibly supportive! I’ve met some excellent mentors and life-long friends through game design. I have multiple avenues for questions, whether about mechanics or the industry. I’ve never been told no when I asked someone if they had time to point me in the correct direction. This community is what makes game design such a great and rewarding job. You get to see the same faces at cons throughout the year and checkup on each other’s designs – it’s a blast!

Any challenges?

I try not to focus on the negative, but there have been times I’ve been ignored or discounted because there were other designers attending an event that were more the stereotype the publishers were expecting. On the whole I’ve found that publishers and reviewers have sought out designs from female designers. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry as we grow and strive to reach equal representation. We, current designers, are the industry and we can affect change like never before. The person you played Coup with last night may be launching a crowd funding campaign tomorrow. What we do matters and it’s exhilarating.

To what do you contribute the surge in board gaming in the last several years?

The endless succession of new technology. The more technology dominates our time, the more we crave human interaction. I think all genders can appreciate the structure and recognizable patterns in board games. There is something comforting about an analog experience that is reproduce-able each time you open the box.

Advice for anyone wanting to break into the industry?

Follow your dreams or you’ll find yourself making someone else’s.

You can keep up with Adrienne via Twitter and Facebook