#687: Justin Gary — Taking the Path Less Traveled, The Phenomenon of “Magic: The Gathering,” How Analytical People Can Become “Creative” People, Finding the Third Right Answer, and How to Escape Your Need for Control
Justin Gary (@Justin_Gary) is an award-winning designer, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is CEO of Stone Blade Entertainment and creator of the innovative and award-winning Ascension deck-building game series. Prior to designing games, Justin was the youngest ever Magic: The Gathering US National Champion. He has studied creativity and applied the principles of design to create dozens of products over his 20 years in the industry for brands that include Marvel, World of Warcraft, and the Wharton School of Business. Today, he designs, consults, and teaches creativity around the world as a digital nomad.
Justin is also the author of Think Like a Game Designer: The Step-By-Step Guide to Unlocking Your Creative Potential and host of the Think Like a Game Designer podcast.
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[07:43 ] An origin story steeped in Magic.
[11:23 ] A debatable past.
[16:38 ] The life of a full-time Magic competitor.
[18:24 ] A philosophy major.
[19:45 ] Monopoly lessons learned from a family of lawyers.
[23:28 ] Innovations that made Magic an instant success.
[26:40 ] Magic game balance considerations.
[30:06 ] Justin exits his Magic career with an altered mindset.
[36:43 ] Too cool for law school.
[41:34 ] Risk is relative.
[43:39 ] From playing games to designing games.
[46:10 ] A Whack on the Side of the Head.
[49:53 ] Surfacing our assumptions.
[54:47 ] The core design loop and effective brainstorming.
[1:00:20 ] Brainstorming tools.
[1:02:01 ] Prototyping.
[1:06:26 ] The value of ugly first drafts.
[1:09:37 ] From company man to entrepreneur.
[1:15:45 ] Fear-setting and contingency planning.
[1:18:13 ] The early stages of startup life.
[1:24:05 ] TTP.
[1:25:21 ] Taking the company to the next level.
[1:31:43 ] Gaming GAMA and other trade shows.
[1:37:02 ] Eliciting feedback at the playtesting stage.
[1:42:32 ] Ascension debuts at Gen Con.
[1:47:04 ] The finances of game production.
[1:51:27 ] The pros and cons of selling a game to another company.
[1:53:54 ] Favorite failures.
[1:59:17 ] Maintaining relationships through failures.
[2:00:45 ] Lessons learned through trial and error.
[2:03:39 ] Putting the rule of three to work.
[2:05:21 ] Why Justin’s team communicates via Discord.
[2:07:49 ] How a trip to Thailand helped Justin escape his need for control.
[2:11:25 ] Justin’s billboard.
[2:12:49 ] Parting thoughts.
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