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Gamestormers: A Promise to My Daughter

I became a father this past April. To be honest, you never really know how you’ll react to fatherhood until you’re seeing your child for the first time and realize that they’re the best thing you’ll ever do. Though the thought is sobering, it makes you want to make sure you make everything else you do damn good.

Before baby Sloane came and changed my life, it’s probably important to flashback a bit to give you the whole story.

In 2018, I applied and was selected to attend the Google Innovator Academy in Los Angeles, CA. I spent four days with other educators, pursuing and brainstorming ideas around how to make games more accessible to educators and students for learning. At the end of the academy, I emerged with a name and a concept – GamestormEDU – the use of game design in learning. I quickly registered the domain and set to work creating resources for helping educators and students design their own games.

For three years, my idea sat out in internet limbo, seeing a spike of interest whenever I presented on the topic at an edtech conference or shared the website on social media. But I just didn’t have THAT idea – the one that is the gateway to getting more students and teachers into game design.

In January of 2021, the idea hit me like a well-timed ambush in a tabletop war game – what if I made a game where you design a game? As soon as the idea crossed my mind, the premise, the mechanics, and the visuals started pouring out. I had SOMETHING.

The first playable demo of Gamestormers (then called Gamestorm Planet)

Since we were still in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, my incredible wife served as my lead playtester, with each of us simulating the decisions of two players simultaneously for lack of a better option. As we played, iteration and after iteration and prototype after prototype emerged, until I had a game that I thought everyone from casual to competitive gamers would enjoy.

I reached out to a wonderful artist, Viktoriya Fajardo of Weird Owl Art, who immediately started running with the game’s vision to set a beautiful tone. We agreed upon a futuristic, Roman, steampunk aesthetic, and every piece that Viktoriya makes further inspires me to make sure the game is as good as her art.

A sampling of the card art and style for Gamestormers (art credit: Viktoriya Fajardo of Weird Owl Art)

Let’s head back to April of 2021. My wife and I agreed to schedule an induction after it appeared Sloane would go past her due date. On the day we checked into the hospital, I officially registered GamestormEDU as an LLC. I wanted Sloane’s birth to align with a message to my future little girl: I promise to show you that life is about taking risks and being willing to fail. I never thought I would start a company. I certainly never thought I would release a commercial board game. But when you believe in something, you have to see it through. I want Sloane to always know that if the juice is worth the squeeze, you take a chance.

If I’m being honest, Sloane is the one who inspired me to do so. As soon as I saw her, I knew I didn’t want to let her down. Gamestormers is more than just a game – it’s a promise. A promise to my daughter that I’ll model risk-taking. A promise to my daughter that dreams are worth chasing. And a promise to my daughter that she’ll be the face of Gamestormers … because she inspired me to make Gamestormers.

And, though the cover art may change, Sloane is the face everyone will see when they grab Gamestormers off the shelf. I made a promise to my daughter, and I intend to keep it.

The first draft of the Gamestormers cover, featuring Sloane the Summoner!

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