We showed my card game Takeout at Boston FIG yesterday as part of the Tabletop Showcase. I’m so happy we got in, so happy we went, and I had a lot of interesting conversations all day… but it was emotionally exhausting to speak to so many strangers, and to share my own creative work all day.
Our Chinese restaurant booth decor and box branding attracted players with an interest in Chinese culture. My original artstyle was neon lights on black, like every single street in China, but I’m glad we went with Harold’s red-and-white takeout carton. My original title, 吃饭了吗, also had to be Americanized for clarity, but watching attendees visually read our booth and come over ready to play a Chinese food game showed we made the right choices.
The best part was when players would notice design choices. Players would ask why it was so hard to get a cold drink or why all the Sichuan dishes were spicy, and their friends (remember, the decor attracted players with a least an interest in China) would laugh and explain it, and I was so freaking proud of myself. The best players were Chinese-American couples, who took a lot of delight in reading the flavortext and in stealing each others’ dumplings. I also laughed really hard when a friend-group would 没有 each other, over and over. It’s possible I made an entire game to share the frustration of 没有 with a Western audience. I’m not sorry.
The worst was a guy who could not accept that I both spoke some Mandarin and designed a game. Over the day, a few players were surprised by this in an impressed kind of way, which made me feel good, because, yeah, those are cool skills. But one guy was insultingly incredulous, and in retrospect, I should have told him to grass mud horse, but somehow it played right into my imposter syndrome. He doesn’t believe me! Maybe he’s right, and all the Chinese that I wrote on the card game that I designed is all a lucky fluke, when actually I’m not good at anything, and this random stranger is about to unmask me! Imposter syndrome is weird.
Also, we sold out! Completely! I underestimated demand (see previous re: imposter syndrome) and we were sold out by mid-afternoon. I know we could have sold more copies if we had them, but I imagined myself schlepping a big box of unsold gamedecks home. Instead, people literally wanted to hand me money to buy my game, which is pretty much my game dev dream, but I couldn’t accept because I’d listened to my jerkbrain and didn’t order enough copies.