Jack’s Friends Part III: The Long Road to Essen
March 29, 2017
In order to understand how Jack’s Friends came to be, it is important to take a step back in time, to the early part of 2015, to when my brother and I had decided to really make a play at designing board games. We had been kicking around a number of ideas for a good while but had settled into working on a game called “Racket”. Satisfied with how it was progressing, it seemed like the next logical step was to bring it to market. We mulled our options and eventually decided on pitching the game to established publishers as our best way to break into the industry.
Among board gamers there is an annual event that carries the reputation of being the mecca for the hobby: a once in a lifetime trip, worth the price of getting there, that is largely indescribable to those uninitiated. It is with this thought in our minds that my brother and I decided to attend the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL festival in its eponymous city, Essen, to flog “Racket”.
Once agreed to, the idea quickly took on a life of its own. The itinerary ballooned from the four day event in Essen to a two week long European trip. We spent several weeks tossing ideas back and forth, doing research on the event and other cities to visit, and finally booking the flights, trains, and hotels needed to link it all together.
Our first stop was to meet up with some friends in Munich. We took in the sites of the Bavarian capital, visited the largest science museum in the world, ate like kings, and finally got our fill of beer at the Oktoberfest. As anyone who has been can attest, a few days on the Wiesn requires almost as many in recovery, and so the long train ride to Amsterdam was welcome respite. We broke out the game and hashed out our pitch. We checked our emails to see if any of the prospective meetings we had hoped to line up would be confirmed. We talked shop and napped. In Amsterdam we rented bikes and toured around the old city; we ate Patatje oorlog and visited with Van Gogh. The variegated experience of Amsterdam is quite a thing to behold. It is easily one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
We talked quite a lot about Racket and other game ideas we had. Our notebooks were bursting at the seams as we boarded the train to Essen Hauptbahnhof. Something funny happens to the mind when you travel. The constant bombardment of novelty pushes thought processes into unexplored territory. Bridges are built between otherwise strange ideas. Light bulbs appear from under lampposts or upside down in canals. In other words, it fuels creative thinking, and the road leading to Essen was certainly that.