Gamemaster is a delightful documentary following four board game creators on their journey from creation to conventions and beyond. The begining of this film needs a warning because watching will result in spending lots of money on board games.
Director Charles Mruz has beautifully cultivated a diverse cast and highlights some of the newest names of board game creation and, it is easy to say that you are rooting for their games to succeed. Mruz also spotlights some heavyweights in the industry such, as Eric Lang (creator of Blood Rage, Rising Sun, more) and Klaus Teuber (creator of Catan).
Nashra Balagamwala and Jason Serrato helped address the lack of diversity in board gaming and board game content. Balagamwala’s game, Arranged!, allows you to play as a young woman avoiding a loveless arranged marriage. Thug Life is a game meant to simulate being a boss on the street. Both games encourage more inclusion for groups that may have felt otherwise excluded from the board gaming community.
Kay’s favorite parts:
I really loved the segments on Catan because it was one of the first games to introduce me to the community. I also really appreciated the transparency of Chalie Bink as he navigated boardgame making with his parents. Their journey was heartwarming, and it was easy to relate to the struggles of a family business. It was wonderful to see the growth of Trekking The National Parks from adorable creation to the struggles of decision making for a second print. Overall, I learned more than I expected and was excited to see games and creators I recognized. I can not wait to show this film to my family and friends, especially my little sister, because board games and board gaming content are always meant to be shared with loved ones.
Drew’s favorite parts:
A love letter to an industry that I have been following for a while. I love seeing the production of some of my favorite games and trying to spot all the games I know that are present on other people’s shelves. More importantly, the documentary shows how difficult it is to bring people’s ideas to life. The four creators presented had to work hard to get their product off the ground. Even when they did other problems arose with questions of distribution, other printing runs, and continuing marketing. However, it never shows that the process is impossible. That with time and effort even someone like myself, with a good idea, can make a game.
“I make the game that I want, that I want to publish. I publish them with the publishers I choose and which are not always the biggest ones because I know I can live off Citadels and now it will be the same for Bruno with Kingdomino.” (Bruno Faidutti)
After watching the documentary, we have a profound respect for creatives in the industry. The most memorable quote really struck home the desire to create content and the drive some creators have in the industry. “I make the game that I want, that I want to publish. I publish them with the publishers I choose and which are not always the biggest ones because I know I can live off Citadels and now it will be the same for Bruno with Kingdomino.” (Bruno Faidutti). It’s fascinating that one success can fund a creator’s entire life and allow them to pursue their ideas and creative passions.
It was great to have crowdfunding be brought up and talked about, especially from a successful source like the team behind Exploding Kittens. Crowd funding has created opportunities for anyone that has a good idea, plan, and game to bring them to life. However, the struggles they face now having funding but nowhere to publish, produce, and distribute can be a bear to tackle in its own right.
Pictured above is all of the featured creatives with their games. From start to finish: Charlie Bink (Trekking The National Parks) , Jason Serrato (Thug Life), Nashra Balagamwala (Arranged!), Scott Rogers (Rockets and Rayguns).
Our only criticism is that the documentary can jump around a bit. It’s trying to cover the four creators, the history of games, the Spiel des Jahres award, and conventions. The amount of information that’s trying to be covered is huge, and keeping a consistent flow is certainly challenging.
WHO IS THIS FOR
For anyone interested in board gaming, whether novice or experienced, this documentary will open your eyes to the wonders of boardgame design and help you too further appreciate some of the most beloved games.
We highly recommend this documentary for lovers of board games and board game culture.
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