The winner of The Attention Contest is Lukeout. I have edited his piece and republished it below. I gave it a heavy edit, but no more than a magazine editor would do for an unknown writer. I found the piece to be interesting, inspiring, and to the point. That’s rare.
You probably wonder why I didn’t pick one of the entries that had far more reader votes. I rejected bathroom humor, anything that seemed dated, anything that seemed familiar (derivative), and anything that couldn’t be brought to a professional level with editing.
I agree that the top vote-getters were quite fun and funny. Good job. And thank you to all who entered.
And now the winner…
Pick up the Phone
I was a 24-year old, third-shift chemist, living in a tiny town in Pennsylvania, dreaming of being a hobby game designer – for games such as Warhammer, and Magic the Gathering.
One day, by a freak of randomness, I was asked to play-test a game that was being designed by a local artist. I arrived at the artist’s studio, and took a seat with a few other play-testers. As the night progressed, I learned that this artist, Keith Parkinson, was not only a nice guy, but also famous and important. Keith was an icon of fantasy art awesomeness. I learned that his art appeared on some of the best fantasy and sci-fi products ever made. Over the course of the night, the pressure of working with a legend began to sink in. The situation was intimidating, even though he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. I found it strange and fascinating that his fame had such an effect on me.
Unfortunately, his game was terrible. The characters were great, but the mechanics just weren’t up to snuff. That night, I wrote up six pages of notes on how to make his game better. It was a brutal review. The next day, I read over my notes and decided to call Keith, to see if I could stop by and go over my thoughts. This was far beyond what was expected of a play tester. I was scared to death to make the call. I must have stared at the phone for fifteen minutes before dialing.
Keith answered and was receptive to hearing my feedback. I was in his studio delivering my bad review within an hour. Within two hours, he had offered me a job helping with his game. That was sixteen years ago. I’ve been happily working as a game designer ever since.
Keith died a few years back, and I miss him greatly. Whenever I look at two of his paintings that proudly hang in my office, I’m reminded to pick up the phone when I have something useful to say, no matter if the news is good or bad, and no matter to whom I’m delivering it. I’m also sure to listen when someone calls me with something to say. Keith showed me that there’s more to art than what hangs on the wall.
The latest game designed (and sometimes marketed) by the author is called Bakugan, published by Spin Master.