Punchboard Media: In Focus - Interview with Lindsay Daviau
'In Focus: Women of Board Gaming' is an exclusive series from Punchboard Media that spotlights women in all facets of the board gaming industry. Our guest this week is Lindsay Daviau, Production Superhero at Restoration Games. The interview was conducted over email by Eric Buscemi.
I know things are busy over at Restoration Games, so thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Lindsay. Before we talk about what's going on there, or about your past career at Hasbro, tell me a bit about what kind of games you like to play. Older games, hot new games, both?
All of the above! I’ve always loved playing board games. It started with Monopoly (I still have the special edition set my family had). As a kid, I used to try to make up games with sugar packets and salt shakers while waiting for food at restaurants. When I started working at Hasbro Games, some folks taught me Settlers of Catan, and it opened up a whole new world that I never knew existed before -- it’s been wonderful!
You started your board game career with Hasbro, as a graphic designer and art director. Do you think working in the mass market game industry gives you a unique insight into the more niche hobby board game business? What are the biggest differences between the two ends of the industry's spectrum? What's still the same?
I think most people who want to get into the hobby board game business do it because they love games, but they don’t necessarily know what it takes to make one. I had a 10 year head start before I started working in the hobby business, so I didn’t have to start from scratch. Mass market games are marketed very differently than hobby games, but from my standpoint, doing the art for one or the other is pretty much the same. This doesn’t apply to everyone in mass market games, but in general I’ve seen more people in the hobby industry who are still excited to play games once the work is done. I’m thrilled to be working in an industry where so many people share my same passion!
You worked on Heroscape, Sorry Sliders, Bop It!, Guess Who, and many other classic games while at Hasbro. What was your absolute favorite title that you worked on there? Why?
It’s really hard to pick, but working on Heroscape was always a blast. We used to show it at Comic Con and Gen Con, and people would coming running as soon as the doors opened to get whatever we had. (One year there was even a father and son who had me sign a character card for Saylind, which is named after me!) To be a part of something that so many people loved was incredibly rewarding.
You happen to be married to board game designer Rob Daviau, the co-designer of legacy games Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy and Seafall. Were you an early playtester of these games? Do you enjoy legacy style games personally?
Oh, I love them. I was an early play tester for Risk Legacy when we were back at Hasbro, and I played the whole campaigns for Pandemic Legacy and Seafall with our local gaming group. Both times I was excited for the conclusion of the story, but sad for the experience to end! I didn’t do much playtesting on Pandemic Legacy Season 2, so I’m super excited for it to come out later this year!
So Restoration Games has a unique market strategy. The company was founded in 2016 with the aim of restoring and updating classic board games for the modern gaming audience. How did this idea of restoring and re-releasing classic designs come about?
That was all Justin. He brought on Rob, who’s about the same age, so they both grew up playing the same kinds of stuff so they share that nostalgia. But I introduced the two of them, so I can take some credit for that, right?!
Definitely. How did you meet Justin?
I introduced myself to Justin after a talk he gave at Gen Con in 2012, just after Rob and I left Hasbro. After that, Justin became Rob’s lawyer, and I guess the rest is history!
Your job title at Restoration Games is Production Superhero. What does the job of Production Superhero entail? Are you using a lot of the same graphic design and art skills that you honed at Hasbro, or on to new and exciting challenges?
I’m the one who puts the finishing touches on the artwork, and makes sure the games are going to get manufactured and look the way we want them to. It’s pretty similar to what I used to do at Hasbro, but because Restoration is such a small company, I get to stretch my wings and do a lot more than I used to, which I love.
Restoration Games launched with three games in development -- Dr. Robert Doyle's Stop Thief, which is based on the 1979 design of the same name, Downforce, which is an update of Wolfgang Kramer's Top Race, and Indulgence, which is an update of Jerry D’Arcey's Dragonmaster. What went into the decision of choosing those titles? How do you plan to choose future titles?
I actually joined the company after the first games were already chosen! But I can tell you what we consider for future games to restore: we look at recommendations that people send in on our website, we find out what games we can get the rights for, and we see if there’s something to restore. If a game is out of print but there’s nothing we can change to make it better, then it’s not for us. We’ve got some great stuff in the works for the next couple years, some of which will be Kickstarted and some will be direct to retail.
Can you tell us anything about what is coming from Restoration after those three titles?
Not yet! I can tell you I’m excited for them, though!
In an ideal world, forgetting copyrights and complications, what game would you most like to see restored? I think for me it would be Battle Masters, so if you could make that happen...
I used to play a game with my family called Rand McNally Destination: Vacation. It was a quasi-educational game about traveling around the United States. It’s probably not even a very good game, but I have fond memories of playing it with my family.
On the Restoration Games website, the guiding principles include "ensuring our games are accessible to differently abled players," "representing all kinds of people in our art," and "donating a portion of our profits to our charitable partners." We just want you to know that everyone here at Punchboard Media loves and respects that thoughtful commitment. Tell us a bit more about how you are accomplishing these goals and what charities you are partnering with.
We all love what we do at Restoration Games, and we want to make sure as many people as possible can enjoy our games. Some of the things we’ve done to help make our games accessible are including visual (as well as audio) clues in the Stop Thief! app, and including the names of the colors written out on the Downforce cards. We also feel strongly about giving back to the community, and are donating a portion of our profits to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and the Joslin Diabetes Center. We like to support other charities whenever possible -- there’s a cool write up in the Indulgence rule book about a tie in we did with the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund.
Before we let you go, is there anything else everyone should know about you?
I’m super tall! When Rob and I got married, we made a custom set of Trivial Pursuit cards for each table, with questions all about us and our friends. One question was “How much taller is the groom than the bride?” and the answer is -4 inches.