Meet the Underground – Ben

Here we go! My name is Ben and my friends and I formed this little gaming company here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we like working together and have been trying to find projects that would let us do that, and the other reason is that we love games and have for a very long time.

Hand-in-hand with that, we wanted to provide some insight into our process here at Uplink Underground and the idea of this blog was born. So, going forward, you’ll see entries here on what we look for in games, what we like and what we don’t like, and how we try to incorporate these lessons into the games we design.

My earliest memory of a playing a game that wasn’t “for kids” (i.e. Candyland) was when my older siblings let me play a Halfling thief in D&D. This was 1977 or 78, which would have made me around five years old. I am much, MUCH, younger than my siblings (who were teenagers at the time) and the only reason they let me play was that I pestered the ever loving hell out them to join. (Possibly I also closely resembled a Halfling.) I was five years old, mind you, and the game went about as well for me as you can expect. If I remember it correctly, I was eaten by a Carrion Crawler and ran crying to my bedroom at the unfairness of it all.

But I was hooked.

I played with my siblings until they outgrew it. During that time I discovered two new things. From my siblings I found the world of wargames, and at school I found out that there were kids my age who liked this whole gaming thing too.

So, yeah, I was nerd in the 80’s.

And the 90’s.

Who am I kidding?

One thing I discovered was that I wasn’t outgrowing games, and in an effort to understand this (mostly to provide an adequate answer to my wife as to why we must dedicate a whole closet to these things), I began to look at “why” I love them so much.

The games I loved the most growing up had a few things in common. Rules that were easy to learn, but difficult to master was a big plus. Replayability was another. I think the one that sticks out as most important though was that it had to have multiple players.

I’ve played lots of great two player games (Avalon Hill’s Midway, Tactics II, more recently Twilight Struggle) and they were fun. But I think I would take a less well designed game that had multiple players than a better game that had only two every time, because gaming to me is about the connections you make more than the games you play.

Beyond the social benefits, games with multiple players add levels of complexities that can’t exist in a two player environment. Alliances and Betrayals (inevitable or otherwise) add to the replayability of a game. Co-operative games test how well you can work together and teach you the strengths and weaknesses of your fellow players. To me, it is my interactions with fellow players that make a game memorable.

So, at least for me, that is what I’m looking for in the games we’ll be putting together here at Uplink Underground. Games that you can play with your friends (over and over hopefully) and games that can help you make new friends. And if anything we put together here can give someone the experience I had waaaaay back in 1977 then I would consider my job well done.

Just… don’t go crying to your bedroom if things don’t go your way. It takes a while to live that down, trust me.

Ben Jennings

Ben Jennings

Board games and super heroes. That's my jam!
Ben Jennings

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