Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Story Realms Weekly Update: The Story Behind Story Realms

by Angie
The Story Behind Story Realms:

Julian and Randy and I have been designing games together and separately for over a decade. Due to schedules and work styles and all sorts of things, it often ends up with Julian and I coming up with a design idea and running with it… right into a brick wall! We’ve come up with some great ideas over the years, but we’ve had a really hard time with getting many of our designs to a point where we  feel happy with them and are ready to get them out and show people. Something always seemed to be missing, nothing big we could ever put a finger on, but they just never seemed to be quite what we were looking for. Until now! Story Realms is the first game we’ve worked on with a clear direction and vision from the start, and that has led us to be able to create a game we are really proud of! Here’s the inside scoop on how we came up with the idea for the game, and more importantly… the WHY.
Eager kids ready to learn a new game

Last summer my then 5-year-old daughter Katie got a new superhero themed board game, and she thought it would be really fun to have a couple of her good friends over for a superhero themed board game party. The kiddos picked out their favorite costumes and showed up ready to learn a new game. Katie was decked out in her Flash costume, Julian’s daughter Sabine had a homemade Rainbow Girl costume, and their friend Theo arrived as Batman. Julian jumped in to explain the game to the kids and everything was going great until about 2 turns in when all the stealing started. 

Katie's look shows things weren't going well...
What? Stealing? In a board game where you play as superheros? Yep, the game required you to collect some items, and one of the main ways to get them was to steal them from other players… which makes 5-year-olds sad. In fact, it kinda makes everyone sad. Who wants to go around collecting cool stuff and have it randomly stolen by your friends? Who wants to spend an afternoon dressed up as your favorite hero and watch your friends cringe and get upset when you ruin their fun?

This is NOT the look of a kid having fun :(

It was pretty excruciating to watch. We tried to come up with some teamwork themed spin and loosen up the rules a bit, but ultimately the kiddos looked miserable and we suggested they throw it in and just play superheroes and have some snacks.  As the kids ran around saving the world together on their pretend superhero team we started talking about what went wrong, which led to a long conversation about games and being kids and the experiences we enjoyed in our own childhood. We talked about getting in character, taking on a heroic persona, imaginative play, the stories we loved as children, and playing games with our families and friends. We discussed wanting to share those experiences with our children, and see their faces light up as they sit around the table together making up great stories and having grand adventures. We started talking about how we wished there was a game that creates memorable stories when you play it, but was easy to learn and took less than an hour to play, one that kids and parents could enjoy together… then Julian’s wife Chrissy said “Why don’t you guys just make THAT game?” 

A bright idea!!

So we set out to do just that. The biggest difference between this and the other games we’d made in the past was that we had an experience in mind that we wanted to create, and it gave us a clear focus that we returned to time and time again. We revised and cut and revised some more, throwing out every idea and mechanic and system that didn’t deliver on our vision. We playtested, made changes and playtested it some more until we had a game that met our design goals AND most importantly was fun for our kids to play! It took almost a year, but sitting them down together to play Story Realms delivered on that experience we all wanted in a way no other game has, they got to enjoy an adventure together in which they were the heroes and their creative ideas and teamwork made the story come to life. They talk about the adventures they’ve played in Story Realms all the time, and it’s a shared experience we will all remember fondly. I look forward to playing more games with my children as they grow up, and to all the exciting new adventures we will share.

That's the look we like to see on Sabine's face!!
I feel so lucky to be able to share Story Realms with other people, and we’re working hard to continue developing the game and the game world so that when it’s released it will provide others with the fun and unique gaming experience we’ve been playing with our kids!

Sabine and Katie playing an early Story Realms prototype

 Thanks for checking back! We’ll keep updating you all about our progress and we’re happy to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to leave a comment or shoot us an email at growingupgamers@gmail.com (for general gaming related stuff) or escapadegames@gmail.com (for info about Story Realms).


  1. Heard your interview on the little metal dog show and loved your enthusiasm for this game you have created.

    Personally now cannot wait to play this wih my kids.

    Best of Luck!!! I'll be looking out for the kickstarter