Friday, September 22, 2017

Five or So Questions with Quintin Smith on The Metagame!

Hey all, I know it's been a while, sorry. Grad school. But hey, NEW INTERVIEW!

Today I have an interview with Quintin Smith from Shut Up & Sit Down about the current Kickstarter for The Metagame: The Games Deck! I had never heard of The Metagame until this Kickstarter came out, but immediately bought it after seeing the Shut Up & Sit Down intro because I am a sucker for this kind of game. I asked for an interview, and Quintin obliged - see the responses below!


This pic is used for the "What the What" game on the game website. :)

Tell me a little about The Metagame. What excites you about it?

What excites me about The Metagame is something that a lot of games that Shut Up & Sit Down recommends have in common. It feels high-quality, and it feels different. Either in your hands or in play, it's like nothing else out there. For people like me who have dozens of board games in their collection, that's the first thing I'm looking for.

But it's also exciting because you just never know what's going to happen next. There are games out there where you never know how this particular match of it will play out. With The Metagame, even once you've decided which game to play, you have no idea how a given turn will play out. You might find yourself weighing up whether you'd rather have Saved By the Bell or Legwarmers while you're stuck on a desert island. You might have to argue why Email Spam is macho. The only consistent thing is that it's going to be entertaining, and you're going to learn a little something about your friends or family.

Check out this play video of The Metagame with SU&SD.

What have you experienced while watching & participating in the development of The Metagame & the Games expansion that you felt differentiated it mechanically?

Well, it's a spin on something that I really enjoy when I'm playing games, which is realising that I've miscalculated and suddenly I'm in hot water, and it's nobody's fault but my own. It's a bittersweet problem to be wrestling with, and for whatever reason I just love that.

The thing that differentiates a lot of games packed into The Metagame is that you can create an argument in your head for why a particular Culture card would make a good fit, but what you don't know is how other people around the table feel about it. So before you make fun of Moustaches, you have to weigh up whether your friends might like moustaches. If someone were to use "D&D" to try and win me over, they might be surprised that while I love games, I have some pretty complicated feelings about D&D. In this way the cards you're playing with aren't static, they're fluid, and playing involves considering your friends and being surprised by your friends. It makes it a very tricky game to play well, but one that it's fun to fail at.

I have so many ideas about how to have fun with these cards, no lie.

Who have you played The Metagame with, why, and what do you think made the game worth playing with them? (I swear, I'm getting at something with that! ;) )**

Hmm. You know, I don't wanna overcomplicate things, so I should just say "I played it with my friends, and what made it worthwhile was that we were laughing and talking excitedly for the entire time."
But it wouldn't be the whole story to describe The Metagame as just an engine for hilarious debates and conversations. It's also a real joy to draw cards from the top of the deck, since they're so varied and they're all so beautifully illustrated that you have no idea what you're going to get.

Games with a lot of spontaneity can put a little bit of cognitive load on shyer people or low-energy groups. Can The Metagame still be approachable for them? How? 

That's actually one of the reasons that we recommend this box so wholeheartedly. Spontaneous or high-energy games are just some of the games in the box! There's also perfectly placid games in there like Matchmakers, History 101, Think Alike and Special Occasion. Seriously, there are just so many games in this box. It's been pretty tricky getting people to understand that! I think some people see "10 games in 1 box" and assume that there's no one good one, but honestly- they're all lots of fun.

I love the card layouts, too.

You mentioned how fun it is not knowing what you're going to get - how did that aspect influence development The Games expansion? How did you come up with enough interesting content that you felt the surprise would still be there?

Oho, great question! Well, anyone who's seen my (now slightly old and embarrassing) Golden Age of Games talk will know that I think "gamers" have a slightly myopic view of this hobby. As well as Pandemic and Metal Gear Solid, we should be celebrating the 52 card deck, Twister and tennis. It's all play! It's all game design. And there are lessons to be learned everywhere.

Both the team at SU&SD and the designers of The Metagame agreed that the games expansion would benefit from this broad view of the hobby. So when you draw cards from it, you might get Dark Souls or you might get a tug of war. You might get Vampire: The Masquerade or you might get hot dog eating contests. Trust me, the surprise and playfulness of the base game is alive and well.

Finally, which games-within-the-game of The Metagame do you think you're looking forward to playing most in the future, and why? 

I mean, The Metaquilt is the centrepiece of The Metagame, and I can't see myself stopping playing it ever. Have you played it? A lot of board games know the joy of a tapestry of cards or tiles slowly being stitched together on your table. The combination of building something, while laughing, while being interested in what your friends have to say? That's just great.


Thank you so much to Quintin for this interview! I could hear his head in my voice the entire time, very impressive. Make sure to check out The Metagame on Kickstarter and share with your friends - I have a feeling that many of you would love this game, and I'm looking forward to playing the copy I just bought!

I couldn't wait for the Kickstarter!

**I admittedly DID hope Quintin would overcomplicate but that's because I'm a massive dork. However, fyi, this set me up for asking the second to last question. I promise, I have a plan when I do these things. :)

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