What do you do for a living?
“So, …what do you do for a living?”
New acquaintances always seem to ask this kind of question. Over time, I have tried different responses.
At first, I used to say: “I’m in the board game business.” Usually, people reacted with a wide-eyed “Oh ….”
I always wondered what people meant by “Oh ….” Perhaps they meant to say, “Oh … I am so sorry,” or maybe, “Oh … can you really make a living this way?”
Indeed, the more generously inclined often gave me a compassionate look, as though they were equating the board game business with a state of long-term unemployment. I often suspected that some of the people with this sort of reaction were on the brink of writing me a check, in order to supplement my unemployment benefits.
I quickly realized that I needed to come up with a different answer if I wanted to improve my perceived financial status. “I am in the video and PC games business” – I tried this when I applied for a mortgage. This answer received more “ahs” than “ohs.”
“Ah, …” as in “Ah, how interesting,” or “Ah … I heard that there’s a lot of money in this business!”
While the latter answer elicited more positive and accepting responses compared to the former, I felt that such a reply betrayed my roots. The bread and butter of what I do is undeniably related to board games! It’s true – today, our games can be played on several platforms, such as PC, Xbox, PS3, Nintendo DS, mobile phones, and more. However, it would be unfair to say that the electronic Catan manifestations are at the core of our business.
For a short while, I veiled myself in vagueness when replying: “My dad and I run a media company,” “I’m in publishing,” or worse, “I’m in the entertainment business.”
Upon being introduced to Craig, nowadays one of my best friends, I said I was in the gaming industry. For the longest time he thought I was working for a casino.
Tired of my evasive responses, I eventually stated: “My dad and I run a board game company. We also do video and PC games.” I am immensely proud of what I do and indeed very happy with my work, but I still uttered this response defensively and with a tinge of irritation.
It is really interesting that one of the first things many people ask you relates to your work. The answer to this question seems to be the nearly all-defining basis on which people judge and evaluate you. I realized that I needed to dig deeper to find a true and appropriate answer.
While digging, I asked myself why I liked board games, and why I am in the gaming business. I have to admit that I am only a casual gamer. I say “only” because I am probably not attending every single game convention, I don’t have a gigantic board game library, and my 7-year-old son beats me handily in most video games. Moreover, I am not starting my days reading the great gamer resource www.boardgamegeek.com (though I probably should).
Instead, I prefer pursuing various hobbies along with gaming, such as Yoga, reading, running, rollerblading, rock climbing, skydiving (admittedly, I’ve only done this once), traveling, cooking & entertaining, wine, keeping up with international affairs, and of course, dedicating myself to my family (Emily, Liam, Leif, dog, cat & chickens, which lay amazing eggs). I have a great time having good friends over, sharing a nice dinner with a bottle of wine, followed by playing board games.
While I am a casual gamer, I have been around games for most of my life. In this sense, I have always lived with what I do for a living. In my childhood, my dad would test his game designs in the inner family circle. By doing so, he invited us to experience new worlds, learn about history, be creative, and train our critical thinking skills.
My childhood was filled with these wonderful game creations.
At age 15, my parents gave me a guitar, which abruptly yanked me away from gaming for a while. A few years later – after I had emerged from my taciturn, somewhat confused and rebellious teenage years, which were filled with a passion for folk punk – I rediscovered the joy of board gaming.
Board games connect me to the past as well as the future.
They allow me to bond, spend quality time with family and friends, explore, win, lose, and experience new real and imagined worlds.
These days I simply state: “We make board games.” I can say this with great poise and pride, because my dad’s passion for board games instilled in me an infinite sense of curiosity for life. I am happy about the fact that I have an opportunity to pass on this sense of wonderment to people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life.