Jeff Beck’s Words Dominate The Game

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Jeff Beck’s Words Dominate The Game

Jeff Beck plays a table top game with his family.

Jeff Beck plays a table top game with his family.

Maggie Lea

Jeff Beck plays a table top game with his family.

Maggie Lea

Maggie Lea

Jeff Beck plays a table top game with his family.

Rachael Maughan, Staff Writer

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Sitting around the table, Jeff Beck and his family have a game night. The stakes are high, the ownership of a new unpublished game called Getaway Driver is on the line. With a winning move, Beck’s daughter, Madison, has won the bet. She was about to have the rights to the unpublished game. Mercifully, she agrees to another round to decide final ownership, and Beck is successful in taking back the rights to the game he has begun to design.

Playing tabletop games has become an important tradition for the Beck family. They play popular games, less-known games, and sometimes games still being made. This is because of Beck’s love for table top games.

A full-time game designer and publisher of games, Beck has turned his love of games into a job. Most who design games have it as a side job or hobby, which makes Beck’s job unique.

Beck started off running the marketing department for an education company but after making games for fun he decided to go full-time into game designing.

Beck has an interesting success story because of an early failure. A high school dropout, he stopped attending school his senior year. Despite this, he was able to graduate from BYU with an computer science major.

His daughter Brooklyn Beck is a senior at Highland and is a part of the IB program.

“He’s definitely been a major supporter in my education and reminding us again and again not to follow in what he’s done, not to dropout and to do our best.” Brooklyn said. “I feel like his influence on us has been positive and he has shown us how we need to work harder.”

He now has a game publishing company called Uproarious and is the host of a podcast called “Your Table’s On Fire!” and hosts a conference called Tabletop Network. With skills from past jobs and his full involvement in the process of making his games, he is able to make a living at this.

“I was in marketing before so I understand … the manufacturing side of it and I’ve been in business for a long time so I understand the business side of it,” Beck said.

He first got into games by adapting duller games for kids, such as Candyland, into a more fun game that could be enjoyed by adults as well. From there, as his kids got older he kept doing this and started making his own games.

His first game was Word Domination, which he made about three years ago. After designing this and a few other games, he decided to make it a full-time job.

He is now working on a new game called Getaway Driver.

“I thought about [Getaway Driver] more from a thematics side. I watched movies that were sort of about this idea of the getaway driver like Baby Driver or Fast and Furious and that was such a fun theme. I really wanted to explore how that might feel in a board game,” Beck said about his process of making the game.

Starting from scratch with bits of cut out paper is usually how the beginnings of the creation of a game happen. Starting out with an idea, Beck would play the games with his family even if they were boring at first.

“It’s like sifting through the ashes to find a gem,” Beck said.

With his family’s help with things like making the cards, or critiquing the mechanics side of things, Beck would begin to make new games.

Getting a game up and going can be difficult, but Beck has been lucky enough to work with other popular game designers and build a good fan base. This is also largely possible due to the website Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a website that allows for people to post projects to see if their idea is received well and to help raise funds and gain supporters called ‘backers.’ It ranges from movies, arts, writing, to games, which is the largest category. This helps to spot potential successes and failures and helps to spread the word about these new projects.

Using this website helps supporters to help creators get projects going, including Beck’s games.

To get supporters and fans excited about new upcoming games, Beck runs a campaign before it’s released.

“Campaigning is kinda like trying to run a party for 30 days, trying to keep people excited and everyone happy,” he said.

Releasing new games is Beck’s favorite and least favorite part of his job. Seeing how people react positively and negatively can be rewarding and difficult.

“As a game designer you have to detach yourself and have to say ‘this is not me this is just something I made and if you like it or hate it, it’s not me,’” Beck said. “That can be hard to do because you put so much of yourself into it to make it great so that can be hard but it can also be good.”

But while making and publishing games is a good feeling, for every game he makes about eight get dropped. This usually happens in the early stages of the game, but sometimes happens after it is far into being developed.

“At the end of the day it’s very important to make sure everything we’re making is really good.” Beck said.

Beck has loved games ever since he was a kid, and would play them often growing up.

“I really like tabletop games because they are fun and bring people together,” He said.

He only made game designing a priority in the last few years, and when he made the decision to make it his job it was a big leap.

“Most game designers that I know do it as a side thing or more of a hobby so making it a full time career was … a big step of like ‘well I hope this works out’ and so far it’s worked out really well,” Beck said.

Being able to have his dream job is one of Beck’s successes. Being interactive with fans and releasing good products into the world is what he likes about his job.

“The magic of boardgames is you can do it with your friends. I’d say if you haven’t played a board game recently give it a try, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s great to interact with other people and have a great time,” Beck said.

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