Game Designer Jamey Stegmaier on the Business of Play

by Kimberley McGee
Stonemaier Games Tapestry
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Each week I talk to local professionals to get an inside glimpse into what they do and ask them to offer advice to teens who may be considering a job in that field. Teens homeschooling in Nevada and considering college or moving into a trade school can get to know more about the career they intend to pursue. I’ve recently spoken to a zookeeper who works with lions, an actress and writerAV tech guruNEAT Services and a marketing director at the YMCA who have all shared advice for kids. I also spotlight local teens each week who are entrepreneurs, leaders or influencers in the community.


I was able to peg down wicked creative game designer Jamey Stegmaier to ask a few questions about game design! This busy entrepreneur has raised more than $3 million with eight crowdfunding campaigns (even wrote a book about it) to create best-selling tabletop fantasy games. He runs Stonemaier Games and shared with us a little about what it takes to be a best-selling game designer.

Jamey Stegmaier shares advice for teens who want to get into game design.


How did you get into designing games?

“I’ve been designing games as a hobby since I was around 8 years old. I returned to the hobby as an adult in 2011, as I wanted to design a game and publish it using Kickstarter for crowdfunding. That game was Viticulture, which has become one of my company’s most successful games.”

Stonemaier Games Viticulture

What is the most challenging part of designing a game that someone interested in getting into the field needs to know?

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of playtesting to make a game as fun, functional, intuitive, and balanced as possible. The first prototype is just barely the first step–when you test it, there is a very high chance that it won’t work and won’t be fun. That’s the case for all of my games.

So I make changes, revise the prototype, and try again. And again and again, with friends and with strangers around the world who are willing to test my games. Usually my games are playtested hundreds of times before I consider them to be final.”

Stegmaier game designer

What makes a great game?

“I love games that give players plenty of interesting decisions, that present opportunities for players to feel clever, that are fairly easy to learn, and that have a sense of progression (the things you’re doing early in the game aren’t nearly as powerful as the things you do late in the game as a result of your early decisions).”

Stonemaier Games game design

What is the latest game you designed that you’d like to talk about?

“The latest game I designed is a secret, so I can’t talk about it yet. But the last game I designed and published is Charterstone, which is a game about building a village. The unique aspect of Charterstone is that it’s a legacy game, meaning that you make some permanent decisions every time you play (you put stickers on the board, you write on cards, you unlock new components, etc).”


What are a few of your favorite games?

“A few of my favorite games right now are Just One, Scotland Yard, Isle of Skye, Ra, TIME Stories, Hanamikoji, Clank, and Fantasy Realms.”



If you are into games, head over to Meepleville Cafe! They are a great place to meet up with other families. Gameschooling can help kids learn to read, hone math and fine motor skills and critical thinking.


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