Derek Davis, first appeared on Episode 53 @solostorygamer
1. Introduce yourself. Where are you from? What should listeners know about you?
Gaming history: I started playing magic in 7 th grade and have always been a collector. When I went to college I got wrapped into the LotR CCG from Decipher and Heroclix, but after college I could never find a community to play with and the prices were starting to get out of my range. In 2008 my wife and I started playing Catan with a few friends. I wanted to dig deeper; but, again, the group was not as interested as I was.
In 2013 I found my first Kickstarter game: Rivet Wars by CMON. That linked me to the Dice Tower and my collector rage (now fueled with adult-like income) went full froth, dragging me in the rainbow filled abyss of cardboard joy. Four years later, I have over 300 games and I contribute to a podcast every week. Crazy…
Personal history: I grew up on five acres of farm land in the central valley of California in a town called Clovis. I was on track out of high school to enter the music scene in LA. I played drums for a band and we had some fairly talented members. Instead, I decided to jump ship and go to college. I graduate with a degree in philosophy and religion from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2005. From there, my wife and I moved to Kansas City, Missouri, were we both completed master’s degrees: hers in education and mine in theological studies. I am currently and administrator and teacher at a seminary and my wife takes care of our 2-year old son. I am hoping to finish my doctoral degree next year.
I am fascinated by the game designer’s task of creating experiences for players and how it parallels course design. My hope is to develop a course designer’s handbook for higher education that is based on game design principles.
2. What games or types of games are you interested in?
I tend to love both ends of the gaming spectrum. I love light, filler games and heavy Euros. From Kingdomino and Mammuz to Food Chain Magnate and Navajo Wars I love it all. I think this is because of my three primary gaming contexts. First, I play games at lunch with students and coworkers. This generally requires games with a higher player count that are fast and easy to teach. Second, I play a lot of two-player games with my wife. She tends to like the fast fillers as well, but is also open to medium/medium-heavy Euros. Finally, I have my group of gamer friends that meets every other week at my house. That is where the heavy Euros emerge.
3. Do you have a favorite game or games you enjoy most?
My favorite game is Navajo Wars, though Comancheria might give it a run for its money. I love the immersive experience of it and the fact that it is solo means I can play it whenever I want. As I said above, I love to see the kinds of experiences designers want players to have. I think designing these experiences has a special characteristic when it comes to solo games. The designer can really invite players into a different kind of space. I have not experienced a more immersive and complex experience than Navajo Wars and I love it.
4. What are some of the most memorable experiences have you had with tabletop board games in the past?
I think memorable experience in gaming can be divided into two categories: gameplay experiences and social experiences.
Gameplay experiences are things that happen in the context of the game that are surprising, exhilarating, and otherwise memorable. As I mentioned above, Navajo Wars has provided me some singular gameplay experiences. The designer invites you into new spaces and the mechanics facilitate drama and suspense. Another recent game that has provided this kind of experience is Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. Playing that game in the dark of early morning with the dramatic music and the storytelling app, which describes in gruesome detail what is happening to you when you lose an encounter, is wonderful.
Social experiences are memorable situations that occur when you are with great people and there just happens to be a board game involved. I can think of several experiences with good friends playing. Now, I am not a big Catan fan, but taunting people, slamming the robber down on their tiles, calling them jerks, etc. can all be entertaining. But the truth is that this would be the case no matter what game we were playing.
5. What is the focus of your WDYPTW segment?
My segment has recently changed its delivery model, but the concept remains the same. I host the Evolving Review segment. The focus of the segment is to give a game time, not just frequency to determine if I like it. If I were to cram fifteen plays of Great Western Trail into two weeks, I might understand the game well, but that would not give me adequate time to actually reflect on the merits and demerits of the game. The goal of my review style is to space out the plays over a seven-week period to determine the longevity of the game. Starting on the first Sunday of March, there will be an Evolving Review the first Sunday of every month. On the other Sundays, I will provide express reviews of smaller games.
So Derek joined the WDYPTW family at episode 53 and has been a rock around here since then. I've always loved hearing his thoughts on games and how they change over a time frame. I loved the idea of the Evolving Review when he first approached me about it, and I still love how the Evolving Review has Evolved.