Welcome to an interview for the series Game Credits Who’s Who (#GameCreditsWW). Ever read the credits page of a game you enjoy and wonder about the various positions listed? Would you like to work in the game industry someday but are not sure how some of the positions work? This Monday series will take a personal look into those positions and introduce you to real people doing those very jobs in the game industry. This week, let me introduce you to Rodney Smith, tabletop game video tutorial provider.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do as a video tutorial provider.
I’ve been gaming most of my life with a more serious appreciation for the hobby developing when I was around 14 years old and I acquired the game Empires In Arms. I was fascinated with the idea of a game that advertised itself as taking 6000–12000 minutes to play. What kind of game could this be?! Well, apparently not one I could ever get my friends to play, BUT it did start me down the path to an interest in games that provided lots of choices (and included very complex rules!).
Much later, In 2011, after a break from the hobby, I started getting back into it again with more passion, and I was looking for a way to get involved with the gaming community more directly. I live in Prince Edward Island, which is not really a board gaming hub, but I was still looking for an outlet to express my enjoyment of the hobby with other people. I entertained the idea of reviewing board games, but I didn’t feel that that was something unique I could offer, and I didn’t feel well-suited to the idea of trying to tell strangers what games they would like or not like.
That said, video reviews were an inspiration to me. I watched several for a game called Mansions of Madness, and the feedback was very mixed. I could not decide if it was a game I would enjoy and realized “If I could just watch how this game is played and maybe even see it being played – I could make my own mind up, based on my personal tastes in games.” And that gave me the idea to create videos that could serve that purpose for other people.
How did you become a video tutorial provider?
Thankfully, I had been messing around with video cameras and editing software for many years as a side hobby, so once I had the idea to create board gaming videos, I did have some equipment to get started with. I also had a willing co-host in my daughter, and so the two of us set up the camera and began our first series, teaching Mansions of Madness , then playing it with our audience, allowing them to make game play decisions along the way. It was very important to me early on that our content not just be something we pushed at our viewers, but instead became something they could be a part of and interact with directly. Board gaming is a very social hobby, and I wanted that aspect to be a part of the content we created.
One of the things that stood out to me during the process is just how difficult it can be to learn games, and how often rule books don’t do a sufficient job teaching the games they are presenting. As someone who personally enjoys rule books and teaching games, I felt like this was an area where I could be an asset to other gamers and the community at large. I would put a focus on fully teaching the games that we played, so that whether you watched us play through the games or not, you could at least take that knowledge and play the games yourself.
Share with us some of your recent projects.
I try to ensure I cover quite a variety of game types. Currently, we’ve taught over 120 games on the channel, with games like 7 Wonders, Dead of Winter, The Gallerist and Lift It. Recently we’ve taught 51st State, Seasons, Above and Below and Stockpile. Currently I’m working on the instructional video for Scythe, the upcoming game from Jamey Stegmaier.
What is your greatest frustration or pet peeve as a video tutorial provider?
Thankfully I really find what I do very satisfying, so while it consumes most of my waking moments, I do find myself energized to work on all the tasks it presents. That said, the greatest frustration is making mistakes. I work very hard to ensure that we don’t let any mistakes slip into the videos, but on occasion they do and while our viewing audience is always very understanding, on a personal level I find it deeply frustrating. I don’t take myself seriously, but I do take what I do seriously and want it to be the best I can manage within the resources I have. That said, we certainly make fewer mistakes than we did in the early days, which is nice!
How can readers learn more about you or contact you?
To find the content, you can visit our YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/watchitplayed but I’m also quite active on Twitter (@WatchItPlayed) and on Facebook (Watch It Played). I also enjoy creating the occasional Periscope videos to go over games I am looking at in a more informal way (@WatchItPlayed).