Eric Slauson might best be described as the Marie Kondo of tabletop; the party game designer says his number one objective is to bring joy to players.
As a college kid at the University of Georgia, Eric spent many evenings playing Cards Against Humanity. After countless rounds of the smash hit with friends, he yearned for a game that gave players more creative input and the ability to inject their individual humor. Slauson and a friend set out on a mission to buy and play one new game off Amazon each month – for research purposes, natch. After three or four failed design attempts and an impromptu perusing of a tattoo book in the checkout of a Carytown, Virginia bookstore, Slauson had the epiphany for a tattoo game. “People don’t get that many opportunities to make art all that often.” Slauson excitedly adds, “[…] the game is not based on drawing talent – it’s based on your design ideas. Anyone can be an artist!”
For Slauson, the theme of celebrating creativity resonates not only in the game world, but in real life as well. A 6th grade middle school teacher, Slauson says a big part of his job is, “[…] giving kids confidence in themselves, their ideas, and their creativity. It’s about getting them comfortable enough to write and then share their writing.” Slauson aims to provide a safe space for kids and adults alike to share feedback and creativity, and he has injected this mission into both his teaching and his designs.
While Slauson has three friends that are tattoo artists and a published game by the name Tattoo Stories, he admits he does not actually have any tattoos on his person. Although he thinks he may fall victim to buyer’s remorse with the permanency of a tattoo, he expresses his fascination with finding art on unique canvases. With tattoos or graffiti, for example, you can find inspiration in places you wouldn’t expect. “Someone can be standing in front of you in line at the grocery store with a work of art on their shoulder, or you’re walking down the street and see a cool piece spray painted on cinder blocks.”
So why did he believe Games by Bicycle was the right home for his game? They fit his mission, of course! “Bicycle has had close to 200 years of history making cards and bringing joy to people all over the world! When I found out you guys were interested in me and the game, I jumped at the chance to be part of the Bicycle name and pedigree.”
Slauson says his biggest challenge as an inventor is getting in front of the ‘right’ audience. “Not all gamers are fans of party games, and not everyone sees party games as ‘real games,’” Eric explains. He stresses the importance of finding pride and maintaining integrity in his designs by inventing games that he would want to play.
Slauson’s fundamental goal for Tattoo Stories is to create social interactions and memories. “Whether you take a picture of your drawing and keep it in your phone, or a design leads to a running joke, I want people to take something out of the game and into their everyday life.” Slauson stresses the importance of achieving a visceral reaction from his players, “be it joy or pride that they created a work of art, or fear because they were scared to play a card”.
One piece of advice Slauson would like to share about both life and game design is that it is OK if you fail. “Go back to the drawing board and paint your own canvas white again!” For Slauson, true courage is found in sharing your creativity with the world.