Q&A w/ Gene Billingsley
CEO of GMT Games
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges to running a games company?
A: I think the biggest challenge is continuing to build and lead a dedicated, capable, innovative team of designers, artists, developers, marketing, customer support, and accounting professionals. And to collaborate with that team to create products that our customers want to play and online tools that they want to engage with. Finally, to be able to do all that in a world and business environment that is ever-changing, where chaos is the norm more often than we'd like - and to be nimble and responsive enough as an organization to continually "meet the moment" and continue to provide quality products and superior service within that evolving, chaotic market space.
Q: What is it like working with some of the most talented game designers in the board game industry?
A: Well, if they were in the room with me, my answer (because they're my friends and I like to mess with them!) would be that it's like herding cats; a constant goat-rope; an absolute circus where the animals get to run things and I'm a circus master with no whip or chair!
Ok, now that I've had my fun (and no doubt earned a few emails and phone calls full of choice words from my designer friends!), here's the true answer:
On the product side, it's like I get to be the kid in the candy store. I get to work with all these amazing designers who create state-of-the-art designs that are varied in composition and compelling and immersive to play. The only challenge to making this part of things my "dream job" is just getting enough hours in the day to play all the cool games that these designers create!
On the personal side, "talented designers" doesn't even begin to convey the depth of these people as individuals. They are of course all unique, and getting to know them as people over the years, with their strength of character, intellectual prowess and curiosity, deep love of family and friends, kindness to others, and commitment to growing in their craft continues to bless and inspire me. Even if I'd never been able to create a single new product with any of these designers, just getting to have the experience of being their friend would have been a big "win" for me.