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Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession

September 2, 2009
Gero Zahn

Last time – in the first part of this blog posting – I told how in 1997, before “The Starfarers of Catan” was published, a friend and I designed our own “Space Settlers” scenario –  as a result of which Klaus and I stayed loosely in touch since fall 1998. However, it was still a long way to go until getting my job as the Web Content Manager of Catan GmbH.

Kolonieschiff 150x150 Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession

A Colony Ship

Towards the end of August of 1999, something incomprehensible for me happened: Klaus asked me if my friends and I would like to test-play his “Starfarers” prototype. Of course we were all for it, and for a three-day period we received a handmade copy of the game.

After we had extensively tested the game, I again persuaded Klaus to give us permission to publish our gaming impressions on the Internet, together with some photos of the prototype – exactly at the same time Kosmos Verlag launched its official press release. [1]

Mutterschiffe Massstab neu Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession

Handmade Starfarers prototype - still with silver Mother Ships

Independently of my board game activities, my hobby of maintaining a private homepage had by this time evolved into being a self-employed web designer / web worker. Klaus found my design of the “Starfarers” pages very appealing by the standards of the time – and for the first time he noticed that, in due course, he would also need his own homepage, and that he could definitely imagine entrusting its implementation to me.

KlausTeuber de 09 2001 Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession on September 25, 2001

ProfEasy gross Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession

Prof. Easy

Around 2001, the work on the homepage thus began. Fortunately for me as a service provider, this project became literally interminable: there were always new ideas to be implemented. The interactive game introductions by and with Prof. Easy, whose technical basis was inspired by my private homepage projects of those days, are surely prime examples for this. The now discontinued “Barbarossa Riddle” should also be mentioned in this context; its relaunch triggered “Klaus Teubers Spielwiese” (Klaus Teuber’s Playing Field) – which nowadays  is “PlayCatan,” since the departure from T-Online also the home of the Catan Online World.

During the game fair “Spiel ’04″ in Essen in October 2004, Klaus, Arnd, and I developed the concept for the online game “Multicatan” over a few cups of coffee, and it was my task to implement the game afterwards. Mid-2005 it went online, with great success, and at the time became the showcase for “Klaus Teubers Spielwiese.” During this period, I delved deeper and deeper into Catan projects. Deadlines for other, basically equal projects from other clients had to be carefully coordinated because they threatened to interfere with the plans for Catan’s online presence, of which I had increasingly become an integral part.

Spielwiese 1713 klein Part 2: How Two Hobbies Become a Profession

Klaus Teubers Spielwiese - in summer 2005 with Multicatan

Inspired by our collaboration on “Multicatan,” in late summer of 2005, I took heart and asked Klaus straight out if he’d like to hire me full-time instead of paying me fees for a continuously growing number of new projects with an always wider scope. After a brief, Catan-internal consultation between Klaus, Guido, and Arnd, I signed my contract with Catan GmbH on October 1st, 2005.

That’s how two of my previous hobbies – implementing websites and playing board games – were combined into my current job.  And here’s the most astounding thing: Except for the testing of company prototypes, I meanwhile hardly get around to play board games, and although my ideas for private homepage projects are somewhere in the “mental drawer,” they are rarely put into practice. Maybe we intuitively keep job and private life apart, even if our job has developed from previous hobbies.

Gero Zahn



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