Monday, May 16, 2016

GenCon 2016 "Industry Insider" Program

Well, this is going to be a bit of a slog, like the Betrayal post was.  So GenCon has announced their industry insider program: "based around all things gaming related. The program consists of seminars and panels suggested and hosted by this years Industry Insiders. Topics vary and are as diverse as the Featured Presenters themselves but always remain industry focused."  Now, Vox Day on his alpha game blog stated it signals the end of GenCon, and Jeffro went over some of the lack of name recognition. In the interest of honesty about the industry of gaming, let's examine these "insiders".  I will be consulting boardgamegeek and rpggeek for these results.

Emily Care Boss: Well, she's gotten some credits according to RPGgeek, but she also seems to be one of those "indie" designers who advocates the masterless RPG, and "story-driven" RPG, which usually end up with sub par stories. Also, who plays Romance RPGs?

Brian Cortijo: Hey look, an RPG designer. You might even have played something he wrote. He's worked on Dungeons and Dragons 3rd, 3.5, 4th, and 5th. Also some Pathfinder and d20 OGL stuff.

Katherine Cross: According to GenCon, she's a feminist journalist for Gamasutra who's written for Kotaku, Polygon, Offworld, and other geek hating houses of "journalism".  She's a Ph.D student in sociology looking at "antisocial behavior online and identity formation in virtual worlds".  Game on, GamerGate.

Crystal Frasier: She has a fair number of RPG credits with Pathfinder, and some artist credits as well.

Amanda Hamon Kunz: She's done some work on Pathfinder and 13th Age products, including ENie winning Deep Magic.

Kenneth Hite:  Has far more credibility than anyone so far on the list. His RPGgeek designer credits go through 17 pages, covering  GURPS, Gumshoe, Savage Worlds, FATE Core, Pathfinder, and more.

Kathryn Hymes: Well neither 'geek has anything. Oh, that's because she doesn't make games. She makes play experiences dealing with language. Like Sign, which is 2 hours long in silence as the "players" recreate a bit of the creation of Nicaraguan sign language. Or Dialect, a story game about a community in isolation losing it's identity through language decline.   Interesting ideas, actually, but they AREN'T GAMES, not in the proper sense. "She seeks to actively avoid RPG tropes in order to make the hobby more approachable to new enthusiastic faces." Hmm. Like having actual conflict and rules mechanisms?

Renee Knipe: If I have the right one(there's two on RPGgeek), she's got a total of five RPG design credits. Yes, that's more than I have, but that's hardly insider status when nobody plays your stuff. Kagematsu and Charnel Gods may have gotten awards a decade ago, but who knows them now? The stuff of legend, I tell you.

Anna Kreider:  She's a self described "cranky feminist" with the blog Go Make Me a Sandwich and the standout SexyTime Adventures: the RPG. She's also done a little with Fiasco, and some Vampire. Let's face it, she hates men, Christians, is obsessed with "gender parity", and has no real clue about the men that built the industry.

Christopher Lawrence: I'm torn on his credibility. He worked for Avalon Hill on RuneQuest: Slayers, and supposedly helped develop scenarios for the Starship Troopers movie based boardgame. Trouble is, there was no such game. There was a minis game, based on the movie, and Avalon Hill published a game based on the novel. GenCon's at least run by idiots that don't do research, or letting guests write their own without fact checking.

Ryan Miller: Another actual insider. He's done work on multiple CCGs, Epic PvP from AEG, and Bolt Action. Perhaps less influential, but he still has cred.

Joshua Morris: Not listed on BoardGameGeek, but he supposedly worked for Score on several licensed property games. It's hard to say what his credibility is, he works as a cable content manager now.

Harrison Pink: GenCon bio says he's a video game guy who's got some credits, but nothing tabletop.

Brian Poel: Largely a video game dev, but he is one of the men behind Golem Arcana. Not much credibility, but some.

Marie Poole: CEO of Lone Shark Games. Of course, there's no credits in either 'Geek for her, so how much game stuff she's actually done, who knows?

Jessica Price: She has a whopping three Pathfinder credits. Most of the ones I've seen have closer to a dozen, at least six if they're busy with other work. She's also the one who called Mike Mearls and Lewis Pulsipher fake geek boys. Pulsipher might not be that credentialed a designer, but FFG reprinted one of his, and Mike Mearls has worked on D&D since 3rd edition(yes, even the trainwreck 4th.). Historically illiterate Paizo employee.

Donna Prior: ONE RPG producer credit. For Fantasy Age. She speaks about community management, diversity, and other special snowflake topics to people that think they matter.

Alex Roberts: She has no discernible credits. Supposedly a freelance writer, who likes to talk about sex a lot at convention panels. Why can't she talk about games?

Wes Schneider: EIC at Paizo, and co-creator of Pathfinder. Passionate about "GLBTQ"  topics in gaming, and author for Tor. Like I needed more reason to not play Pathfinder.

Hakan Seyalioglu: The other half of Thorny Games, with Hymes. He's apparently written some tools for Google Play games.

Zachary Strebeck: Game lawyer. Represents Stonemaier Games, and a couple of others. Odd interpretation of insider, but runs Game Lawyer blog, and contributes to the Dice Tower Podcast, so whatever.

Elisa Teague: Designed Geek Out!, a party game. Works for Lone Shark, worked for Playroom Entertainment. Likes to focus on women's issues and body image in the gaming community.

Mark Truman: He has a fair number of small RPG credits, with Cortex and FATE being the main systems involved.

Monica Valentinelli: Another somewhat busy small timer, with lots of Firefly credits, with some Vampire and others in the mix as well.

Eddy Webb: Another real insider. Lots of World of Darkness credits, but even Chill, Firefly, and Champions are in his work.

The GoH is Michael Pondsmith: Worked on Cyberpunk, Usagi Yojimbo RPG, Castle Falkenstien, and some others.

It's a bit sad when a grunt designer from WoTC has twice the design credits of your GoH, even if he's legit.


  1. Lew's Brittania is included in "Hobby Games: The 100 Best" alongside some of the best games ever made. (It's a classic. One guy calculated that he'd actually spent a year of his life playing that game. Also, as with, say, Stellar Conquest it is the first of a significant sub-genre-- the "sweep of history" game.)

    Also, this whole kerfuffle is extremely ironic because he (a baby boomer) is always after me (a gen x'er) to "get with the times." I think the times finally caught up with both of us!

  2. Mike Pondsmith is actually quite qualified to be the Guest of Honor. Castle Falkenstein was considered to be one of the most innovative games of it's day (and still enjoyed by many). He has been working in the industry since 1984. He designed Mekton and Cyberpunk also considered to be landmark and innovative games.
    He has won numerous awards for his games and his game designs, including many Origins awards.

    I personally put Mike on the same level of "Industry Insider" as I do Gygax, Steve Jackson and Marc Miller. His credibility is beyond reproach.

    A "grunt designer" my have more credits, but those credits don't come anywhere near the quality of Mike's.

  3. Please understand, I am not insulting his work or the quality of it. However, his "insider" status is a bit more questionable as he's not in the industry NOW. His work was good and influential, certainly, but the last RPG product he designed according to RPGGeek was a Cyberpunk supplement in 2007.

    Good designer? yes. Worthy of being a guest? absolutely
    GoH? I find it somewhat debatable, given that he left the industry to teach at t tech institute.

    Gygax never left the industry, and neither has Steve Jackson. Their roles/activity level changed over the years, but they stayed.

    Again, his credibility as a guest is not at issue with me, just as GoH since he's not currently in the industry to my knowledge.

    1. What are your credentials? What have you written besides a blog?

    2. Since has not been invited to speak as an industry insider, that isn't relevant.

  4. Mike Pondsmith is currently still running R. Talsorian games which have the Witcher table top rpg in the work, trying to get a rather late Kickstarter for Mekton out and are working on the Cyberpunk 2077 table top rpg so they can release it the same time the video game comes out from CD Project Red. He took a break from the tabletop game industry to work in the video game market for a while on games like Crimson Skies, the Matrix online game and others. Along with teaching game design classes as well. In the past he has also work for TSR on such games as the Buck Rodgers rpg, the Kara-Tur setting and Hall of Heroes for Forgotten Realms.

    Research... you have the internet... it's easy.

  5. Mr. Amthor, I stated exactly where most of my information was coming from. As. Mr. Pondsmith has a fair amount of past work(which I only mentioned some standouts), and no mention of upcoming work on his GenCon bio, I saw no need to search for more data. If you are unhappy with my work, YOU ARE WELCOME TO GO THROUGH THE WHOLE DAMN LIST YOURSELF.
    As to R. Talsorian still existing, many old game companies still exist, but only as property holders. Once again, it's been eight years.

  6. I've logged 10+ years in the gaming industry and have worked for over 30 companies including Steve Jackson Games, Margaret Weis Productions, Onyx Path Publishing/White Wolf, plus I have over 60 publishing credits with more on the way. I was also a Origins University speaker, and have frequently attended cons to speak about gaming as well. If that does not qualify me to be a panelist, then respectfully sir, I believe your criteria is sorely skewed, so I can't help but think something else is at play here. After all, you name Eddy Webb's work on Firefly as being notable. I hired Eddy to work for me on Firefly--I was the lead writer and developer for that game line.

  7. FYI, there was indeed an SST Movie game published by AH:

  8. Thanks, Elliot. I missed that one.