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St. Louis is home to a bustling independent game production community. Meet three creators.

Carol Mertz, Christopher Badell and TJ Hughes discusses the local independent game production community on Monday's St. Louis on the Air.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis on the Air
Carol Mertz, Christopher Badell and TJ Hughes discusses the local independent game production community on Monday's St. Louis on the Air.

Could a St. Louis game producer be responsible for the next Cards Against Humanity or Minecraft? On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed what turns out to be a bustling independent game production community in St. Louis.

There are several dozen tabletop game developers and hundreds of professional (and hobbyist!) digital game developers located in the St. Louis region. At the last St. Louis Game Jam, a weekend-long meetup where people develop a game, over 300 people attended, making it the second biggest jam in the country.

The first weekend in August, St. Louis will host the Pixel Pop Festival for the fourth year. It brings together game creators and players from across the country to collaborate and learn about digital and analog games.

Joining St. Louis on the Air on Monday to discuss the local games community was Carol Mertz, Pixel Pop’s executive director and a games producer responsible for the satirical card game “Pass the Buck: A Game of Corporate Responsibility Management.” Also joining the program were Christopher Badell (founder of Greater than Games and designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse) and TJ Hughes (founder of Terrifying Jellyfish, creator of Feesh and the upcoming nour).

“The games community spans digital and tabletop and even experimental games that include things like robotics,” Mertz. “We have these really excited developers who have found each other in the last five years and realized we’re more powerful together. We’ve been able to share ideas and inspirations together and resulted in a boost of the quality and creativity of games coming out of St. Louis more recently.”

There’s no one way to perfectly develop a game, said Hughes, who added that inspirations for game development come from many different fields such as graphic design, video game development, cinematography and mathematics.

“A lot of us spend a lot of time developing games that never even come to fruition,” Badell added. “A lot more ends up on the floor than goes to the public. But, in general, ideas start from finding something fun. Could be something mechanical or sparks conversation, but how do we turn that fun thing into an experience?”

With the great influx of mobile app gaming, some may assume board games are falling out of favor, but Mertz said the opposite is actually true.

“Because digital media is swirling around us all the time, more and more we’re looking for ways to spend time with our friends in person,” Mertz said. “Board game nights are seeing a resurgence. We’re seeing such creativity in the tabletop game space because we have access to things like Kickstarter and creative opportunities we didn’t have 20 years ago. We’re seeing more interesting games that aren’t just ‘Monopoly.’ They provide opportunities to interact with each other.”

Listen as Mertz, Badell and Hughes discuss the independent game production community in St. Louis, their own game development efforts and how someone interested in game development can get involved: 

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.