Gamestormers (and Sloane) Took Their First Steps

My daughter, Sloane, has been flirting with taking her first steps these past few weeks. She easily pulls herself up from sitting, wobbles a bit, and then sits down. Each time, she cracks a smile… almost as if she knows that she can do it, but it’s more fun to tease us a bit.

It seemed only perfect that Sloane should take her few steps only days before we finally, after a years of designing, playtesting, iterating, and more on Gamestormers, were finally ready to launch the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

Sloane eating her own Gamestormers card.

But as we enter into week THREE of the Kickstarter campaign, I cannot help but think about how far Sloane and Gamestormers have come. After all, they both started off as a very distant dream, both of which I was not sure I was ever going to be prepared to do – become a dad and publish a game. It only seems right to remember where both dreams started to become reality.

A year ago, I remember exactly where I was. My wife and I were packing up to head to the hospital to welcome our baby girl into the world. Just before we left, I submitted my paperwork to incorporate GamestormEDU LLC as an official company. And, sure enough, GamestormEDU and Sloane came to life the very next day. Sloane was born exactly at noon on April 22nd, 2021, and my paperwork was accepted the same afternoon.

A picture of Lizzy, Sloane, and I heading home from the hospital.

Being a parent and being a game designer both have their collections of first. Sloane’s first crawling, pulling up, standing, and stepping are all etched into my mind. The first true playtest of Gamestormers, sharing it across continents in digital form, and bringing it to conferences will always stay with me as fond memories. Both Sloane and Gamestormers will always be my firsts, and they will always hold a place in my heart (though Sloane’s place is admittedly MUCH larger, heh). And, with both, I want to make sure I help them become the best they can be.

I also think being a parent and a game designer can be humbling in their own way. I often felt helpless when I could not console Sloane during those teething days, or when I struggled to help her settle into a good night’s sleep. I also felt crushed when some early playtests revealed that Gamestormers was too confusing, too slow, or not engaging enough. Both parents and game designers have to accept that there will be failures and low points, and they all lead to learning and growth.

Sloane and I sharing a laugh about our shirts.

To be honest, for every humbling moment, there are ten incredibly rewarding and awe-inspiring moments. There might be no greater high than making my daughter giggle. And, when she smiles at me as I take her out of the carseat each morning, I fall in love with her all over. The same is true with the games you design. I have never gotten bored of playing or designing Gamestormers because it brings me a new set of challenges, humor, and joy during each session. Every time I play, I think of a story behind each card, asset, and game mechanic.

I started blogging about my journey with both Sloane and Gamestormers nearly nine months ago near the end of July 2021. It seems only appropriate to revisit that post and think about what I wrote:

“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.”

-Gamestormers Designer Jon Spike

Amazingly, that promise is so very close to becoming a reality. Sloane is, indeed, still on the cover. Thanks to many of you out there reading, Gamestormers is now fully funded on Kickstarter, which helps us cover the manufacturing and logistics costs. As soon as late 2022 or early 2023, the finished game will be in our customers’ hands. Thank you all for your support and interest in the project – it has been incredibly overwhelming and left me speechless. If you are reading this before May 5th, 2022 – there’s still time to get your discounted copy of Gamestormers via Kickstarter or simply show your support of the project. Whether or not you give any money, just know that your kind words, encouragement, and feedback have meant to world to Sloane and me.

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