March 16, 2011

Critical Gamers Interviews Lorien Green Creator of the "Going Cardboard" Documentary


While attending PAX East '11 this weekend in downtown Boston, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Lorien Green, the filmmaker for the board gaming documentary "Going Cardboard". We both have roots in the video gaming industry and shortly discovered we had both worked at the same company! She had left the company only a few months before I started there. While having something in common like that can help break the ice, there was no doubt in my mind that Lorien would have been just as friendly had that connection been missing. She was undoubtedly enthusiastic about her project, the status of the gaming industry, and her experiences throughout the film making process. For some background about Lorien and the documentary, I suggest visiting her Hustream video, which can be found here - Introducing Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary.

Q: Does this documentary cover all aspects of board gaming?
Lorien: No it definitely does not cover all aspects. That's the tough thing as there's a lot to it. There are the world board gaming, Catan, and Ticket to Ride championships, and championships on a cruise, I didn't get into that. There are also miniatures, war gaming, pen and paper rpgs, and even events like this; there's a lot going on and it's all part of the same umbrella. It was heart breaking the amount of stuff that I had to cut just because it wouldn't fit, I can only cover so much in an hour and a half. There's definitely so much more ground that can be covered and I hope people do. More documentaries!

Q: So it sounds like you took a designer gaming approach, is there any particular reason you went this route?
L: Mostly because of seeing my husband's collection and how nice they looked. I also had some connections on the east coast; there's a lot going on here and the editor of Board Gaming News was our friend up in NH. It was that; having someone to open doors and get contacts for me and then on the other side having people who knew video.

Q: On your Kickstarter page you mention that board gaming is making a comeback, is there any specific data that you encountered that backs that claim?
L: The publishers had stated their successes. I believe that Mayfair had mentioned that every year their Catan sales have increased more than previous years combined. With Catan now on Xbox and iPad/iPhone, it is introducing the industry to an audience who might have never seen it. It was also mentioned about a year ago in an article that Catan was the "new golf of the silicon valley". It is getting big and it's just a matter of whether or not we can make things, beyond Catan and the gateway games, more mainstream.

Q: Do you feel that there is a specific reason that board gaming is still around even after the massive rise of video games?
L: First some people like variety, that's why pen and paper is still around, they like that human interaction. The other thing is that board games don't get outdated. Take out your old Playstation 1 games, some of them will work, some of them won't; whereas 50 years later you can take out Catan and still play. We are also in front of computers and video games all day long and I think people need to get away from that sometimes.

Q: Do you think that Hasbro's family game night campaign has helped with that?
L: Yes definitely, also there is the kid's channel, the Hub, and they have these game shows based off the classic American board games. It reminds people that there are still board games out there.

Q: Do you feel there is a lot in common between the board game and video game industries and if so, what?
L: To a degree. I think that because I have a video game background when I first started about 8 or 9 years ago, the company that I started at was very grass roots and had an independent feel to it. Video games usually have more than one designer, but are starting to come back around full circle to indie development and publishing with Xbox live development platform and the like. It seems to be a movement across a lot of industries including board games and even movies, partly because the tools to do it are more widely available than ever. Things like Kickstarter and The Game Crafter are giving independent designers the opportunity to exercise their creativity and get their game published.

Q: If there was something you could go back and do different about the documentary, what would it be?
L: Let me think about that, that's a good question. There were a couple of people I would have liked to interview, a couple of conventions I would have attended, there is more story than can fit in one movie, but you always want to keep shooting more. So I would have covered more, though there's a lot of bonus footage as it is, an additional 90 minutes or so of it. I also would have started editing sooner, and hit that harder; it could have been done 4-6 months sooner. But isn't that always the way? It's hard to dig in and focus just on that, with the rest of life still going on.

Q: What was your favorite experience that really stood out while you were filming?
L: One of the really great times was at a Gathering of Friends. It was my first big trip all by myself, with a LOT of very important interview opportunities. When I first got there I was really scared about it all, but once I hit my stride and was tossing tape after tape of completed interviews into the bag, it felt like it was a quest and I was gaining xp. By the time I was done, I had 22 interviews and had only 1 hour of sleep the night before and was totally exhausted, but I put on some music on my laptop (Stereo MCs) and started dancing around the room because I just felt it was called for. Also Essen was just awesome, once I was on the plane leaving, I was just like wow. I didn't want to leave but the experience was unbelievable. Some of my best moments were just that feeling of "woohoo!" on the way home from events I'd filmed.

Q: Are there any plans on including any outtakes at the end?
L: Yes, though there is one that will probably never see the light of day, when I got lost at Essen (well, one of many times). I did a little parody of the Blair Witch. I put the camera right up to my nose, it wasn't flattering at all. I was like "It's all my fault, its my project..." It was goofy. I have some really good outtakes. That actually came together way before the main film line. I found a great music track and I knew that was my closing music, and there were a million funny short clips to choose from, so it all sort of built itself.

Q: What kind of music can we expect?
L: It's all pretty upbeat, except one part. It's sort of guitar/Americana, [I asked for some clarification] kinda like classic rock. Stuff that I think fits the community. I also found a board gamer who wrote a fan song about Catan and I was able to connect with him and use that. I mean if a fan wrote a song about Catan, you kinda have to have it in a documentary like this.

Q: Where can users go to follow the progress on your film?
L: I have a Kickstarter campaign going right now, a blog, a website, and users can follow me on twitter. I update the blog and tweet pretty regularly; those are the best places to go. [links at bottom]

Q: When do you expect the documentary to be released and where can users go to order?
L: I'm thinking June of this year. I'll be offering it for sale directly and also have a few board game stores that are interested in carrying it. It should be widely available.

I would like to thank Lorien for taking the time to meet with me and giving Critical Gamers insight into her awesome project. For more information on Lorien Green and "Going Cardboard", check out the following sites and follow Lorien on Twitter @LorienGreen -

Going Cardboard Official Website
Going Cardboard Blog
Going Cardboard Facebook Page
Going Cardboard Kickstarter

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at March 16, 2011 5:03 PM

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