Punchboard Media: In Focus - Interview with Sara Perry
'In Focus: Perspectives in Board Gaming' is an exclusive series from Punchboard Media that spotlights diverse perspectives across the board gaming industry. Our guest this week is Sara Perry, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Seat at the Table magazine. The interview was conducted over email by Eric Buscemi.
Hi Sara, thanks for joining me! Before we talk about A Seat at the Table, which I know you are excited about, let's talk about some games you like to play. What are some of your all-time favorite board games? How about any new games you've really enjoyed?
I love pretty much any game where I get to build an engine or a system, bonus points if the theme has to do with farming or gardening. Of course, that means Agricola has to be one of my favorites. I also really love Altiplano—the bag building is so neat. My partner also just got Nemesis, and the stories you can create with your group while you play it are amazing.
You also like role-playing games, what systems do you most enjoy playing?
I’ve played a few different systems, but I think I like Mouse Guard and Deadlands the best. Mouse Guard is super fun because I love getting to play as and interact with cute animals, but Deadlands is my all-time favorite. I’m more into the roleplaying aspect of RPGs instead of crunchy combat systems, and Deadlands is a great system to use for that.
You minored in Game Studies and Design in college. What was the program like? What lessons most stuck with you?
The GSD program I was in was amazing, and probably my favorite part of college. It’s unique in that it focuses primarily on board game design, which was perfect for me since I was interested in board games more than I was in video games. There are some classes on the history of board games and the math behind them, and the capstone is a year long design workshop where you have to crank out a new prototype every two weeks. The lesson that stuck with me the most came out of the workshop, and it was that frequent playtesting is so crucial to progressing with designs. That, and not getting stuck in your own head. Not having a lot of time in between deadlines meant that you needed to let your creativity fly, and that really emphasized that it’s important to not overthink things. Sometimes you just need to go with your gut and what feels right.
What school did you attend that had this program?
I went to the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama, and the program I went through was the Game Studies and Design minor.
You're a self-described hobbyist board game designer. What draws you to design games? What kind of games do you like to design?
I like games because I get to spend quality time with my friends and solve puzzles creatively, which are two of my favorite things. Designing games is sort of like a puzzle for me, too, and I find the process of trying to think creatively and problem solve to make something that people will enjoy really engaging. I usually like to design games that I would want to play, so ones that are lighter, don’t have a lot of direct player conflict, and tend to emphasize building or collecting something. I think set collecting has been my favorite mechanic to work with.
Any aspirations to get any of your designs published?
Definitely! I have a game I’m working on right now that I’m hoping I can get published. I'm still working on changes right now, but the game I'm hoping to get published is a set collecting game about cataloging magical creatures, heavily influenced by my newfound love for the Netflix show Hilda.
You are the founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Seat at the Table magazine. Tell us a bit about it, and what made you decide to create it.
I’m fairly new to the board game industry, and, as much as I love it, I wasn’t quite prepared for the inclusivity issues it has. I help run a diversity training program as my day job, and the most important lesson that I’ve taken away from it is that nothing will ever change if you don’t shine light on the problem and talk about it. I’m hoping that A Seat at the Table will help do that, and that in the process we can also use it as a support system for each other. It’s really just about acknowledging each other’s experiences and the problematic behaviors in the industry so that everyone can start making steps towards a positive change.
What kind of articles can we expect to find in it? Do you have any recurring or guest writers lined up?
ASATT is designed as a platform for any women, POC, LGBTQ+, or disabled gamers to share their experiences, so anyone that identifies as one or more of those is welcome to apply to be a contributor. We operate sort of like a journal or literary magazine in that we have a new set of contributors each issue. We’ll have periods where submissions are open, and during that time anyone can submit a piece to be considered for publication.
We’ll have three sections — On Being in the Industry, On Celebrating Creators, and On News and Insights. On Being in the Industry will consist of personal essays describing the contributors’ experiences in the industry, whether that be as a designer, writer, player, etc. On Celebrating Creators is all about recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of artists and creators in the industry, so anyone is welcome to share their artwork, blurbs about their published designs or written pieces, and more. On News and Insights is for more traditional style articles or opinion pieces, as well as relevant industry news. Anyone is welcome to submit a piece to any of those different sections, and the selected ones will all be published in the same issue.
What will the publication schedule look like? Where will we be able to read it?
Our goal is to have two issues released per year, one in the summer and one in the winter. We’ll primarily be circulating the releases via our website and social media, and all of the previous issues will be stored on our website.
Are you looking for submissions for future issues? If so, how can interested writers contact you?
Absolutely! We’re currently accepting submissions for the first summer issue, and I encourage everyone who may be interested to consider submitting. We're also currently looking to hire an editorial staff to help review submissions. The details on how to submit or apply to be an editor are on our website, and you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding any questions or submissions.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Before we go, is there anything else you would like to share? Any other passions, interests, or hobbies?
Thank you for talking with me. As far as other passions go, I love to read and I have more plants in my apartment than I probably should. Other than that, I like board games and camping, bonus points if I’m playing board games while I’m camping.