Speaker Series

In collaboration with New Voices In Gaming and The Tabletop Network, we are proud to present the 2021 Tabletop Mentorship Speaker Series.

2021 Speaker Series

Nobody Knows What They're Doing with Sophie Williams

Why our dissatisfaction with ourselves is based on made-up nonsense and how you can work through your impostor syndrome. 

Sophie is a tabletop game designer working at Needy Cat Games, a boutique game design studio based in Nottingham, UK. She also hosts a podcast called Finding Games where she talks to all sorts of people who work in the tabletop games industry about their journeys into the industry, their experiences along the way, jaffa cakes and dogs. You know, all the important stuff. 

How to Use Your Platform for Good with Beneeta Kaur   

Beneeta Kaur is a Punjabi-American tabletop games industry content creator and Twitch streamer. Her goal is to create a diverse and welcoming community, while introducing people to games!

Disability Pitfalls in Roleplaying Games and How to Avoid Them with Fay Onyx

Click here for the resource document that accompanies this talk.

Fay Onyx is a queer, nonbinary, disabled writer, podcaster, game designer, and disability consultant whose work focuses on intersectional disability representation. Ze creates resources to help storytellers and game designers represent disability respectfully, including a monthly Q&A series, a Decolonizing Games Resource List, and a series of articles about harmful disability tropes. Hir podcast, Writing Alchemy, has an actual play series about the adventures of disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill heroes. Fay is also working on Magic Goes Awry, a high fantasy roleplaying game that has detailed character creation with a rules-light core mechanic that creates plenty of magical mayhem.

Making Games More Colorblind Friendly with Ruel Gaviola

One in 12 men and one in 200 women are colorblind. Chances are you've played a game with someone who's colorblind. What is the gaming experience like for colorblind players? How can it be improved and/or changed? In this presentation, we'll discuss better practices and methods that publishers, designers, and players can use to create games that are more accessible and more approachable for colorblind players. 

Ruel Gaviola is a writer, podcaster, livestreamer, and co-host of Good Lookin’ Kickstarters. His work has been featured on Good Time Society, Geek & Sundry, Roll20, Gen Con TV, Renegade Game Studios, Game Trade Magazine, and more. He is on the Board of Directors for the Tabletop Writers Guild and the American Tabletop Awards, and is co-organizer of the Tabletop Live Network. Find him livestreaming board games several nights a week on Twitch and connect with him on social media @RuelGaviola. 

Turning Ideas into Reality with Behrooz ‘Bez’ Shahriari

Illustration and Artwork in Board Games with Kwanchai Moriya

Kwanchai Moriya is an illustrator and painter, working primarily in tabletop games and children's books. He spent his childhood in the suburbs of Chicago and went on to complete a degree in History from the University of California and a degree in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design, before beginning a freelance illustration career in tabletop board games. He has a passion for making fun illustrations, and his vivid style can be seen in numerous popular board, card, and roleplaying games. Kwanchai is also an avid painter, working in oil and acrylics with science fiction and fantasy themes.

A Game Design Workshop with Kathleen Mercury

Design three different games in this one session. Enjoy failing fast and rapid iteration!

About Kathleen Mercury: Kathleen Mercury, M.A.T., M.E.T., has been teaching gifted middle school students for fifteen years using design thinking to create functional art from designing tabletop games and RPGs to filmmaking, cosplay, and more. She shares all of her game design teaching resources at www.kathleenmercury.com for free, and loves to collaborate with educators and industry leaders to promote game design curriculum at every level and format. She currently cohosts the podcasts, Games in Schools and Libraries and On Board Games, and is a frequent guest on other podcasts. She has multiple games in various stages of design, development, and publication with the upcoming titles Greece Lightning from Wizkids, and Dragnarok from Kolossal. Kathleen thinks happiness comes from being able to create the life you want, and she feels very fortunate that she's been able to do that. 

From the Tabletop Network Vault: The Lens of Tempo by Eric Reuss

Check out our Q&A with Eric Reuss that followed the release of his talk.

How to Lead a Playtest with Emma Larkins

Published board game designers often give the advice to "playtest, playtest, playtest!" when asked about the path to publication. But what exactly is playtesting, and how can you do it effectively? When it comes to playtesting, quality is much more important than quantity. This presentation will take you step-by-step from deciding what you want to learn from playtesting, to running the playtest, to organizing and acting on feedback. You'll also learn how to test other designers' games (which is just as important to developing your game design skills). Suitable for both new and experienced game designers.

Emma Larkins is a board game designer (Abandon All Artichokes, ...and then we died, Heartcatchers). She hosts a weekly board game news show for Gen Con and a game design podcast (Ludology). She also runs a weekly digital board game playtest event on Discord.

An update of a previous Tabletop Network talk: Anticipation with Tim Fowers

Being Amazing at Social Media with Danny

“Being Amazing at Social Media” will touch on best practices to grow an audience on social media. But also, this presentation is going to talk about community building, safety, and networking within the tabletop community from a content creator perspective.

Hi everyone! I’m Danny from Danny Plays Gamez and I’m a board game and tabletop enthusiast. I’m a consumer, a content creator, and a marketing professional within our industry and my main goal is to create a safe and fun community and push for diversity and inclusion throughout all levels.

From the Tabletop Network Vault: Designing from the Inside Out with Matt Leacock

Check out our Q&A with Matt Leacock that followed the release of his talk.

A Sell Sheet Workshop with Sen-Foong Lim

This workshop will focus on determining the 'bait" and the "hook" for your game and using this information to develop an elevator pitch and lay out a sell sheet. Bring your ideas and be prepared to share!

Sen-Foong Lim is an award-winning game designer (including Belfort, But Wait, There’s More!, Junk Art, and Akrotiri), developer (for companies including WizKids, Everything Epic, Underdog Games, and Fantasy Board Games), and writer (Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall). A frequent panelist and speaker at industry events, Sen is helping to foster networking opportunities for freelancers through the Pitch Project and All But Published. Sen is a fierce advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tabletop industry.

From the Tabletop Network Vault: Creating Representation for Marginalized Groups with Nikki Valens

Check out our Q&A with Nikki Valens that followed the release of her talk.

How to Run a Kickstarter with Omari Akil

Omari Akil is a game designer, content creator, and community advocate. He co-founded Board Game Brothas, a publishing company focused on developing games that celebrate Hip Hop and Black History and Culture. Omari is passionate about building more representative and inclusive gaming communities and lifting up marginalized designers in the industry and he works with several organizations to help bring that vision to life.

From the Tabletop Network Vault: How to Trick a Board Game Critic Into Loving Your Game with Dan Thurot

Check out our Q&A with Dan Thurot that followed the release of his talk.

How to Take Great Board Game Photos with Luna

In this course, we will talk about basic composition, lighting, and technique when it comes to board game photography on a budget. We will be taking photos and I'll be giving you feedback on the photos that you produce. For better results bring a camera (or a smartphone with a manual camera app), 2 small lights, and 1 or 2 games that you would like to capture. 

Luna is a Colombian photographer and graphic designer who founded Aspie Gamer Girl to combine board games and neurodiversity. As an autistic woman, board games have given her the opportunity to build and be part of a community. Aspie Gamer Girl started as a space to share board game content in both English and Spanish, and transition to share the beauty of games through photography and stop motion.