Thursday, December 3, 2009

Interview with Anomia Press

Today's interview and giveaway could not have come at a better time. With the holidays just around the corner, we could all use a little gift help. This interview is with Andrew of Anomia Press and just happens to be my first non-Etsy interview! I "met" Andrew through Facebook via my husband's cousin who I'll also be interviewing later this week. Without further ado...let's meet Andrew and his game.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: My name is Andrew Innes. I live in Boston with my wife Jody and our son and daughter (ages 3 & 1), plus a dog and a cat too. We have lived in Boston for about 2 years now, prior to that we were living in Brooklyn, NY.
I have a full time job as a product/project manager for a publisher in NYC. I manage the technical and business development for 5 of their websites. (2 daily newspapers, a weekly newspaper, and 2 monthly magazines) It's a busy job!

APART FROM CREATING GAMES, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO: I've been a musician for a long time and that still takes up whatever spare time I have these days (not much!). I have played with lots of bands over the years, across many styles of music. My primary instrument in the saxophone, though I also play musical saw, washboard, harmonica, piano, guitar, etc. In the last 5 or 6 years I've started to focus a lot more on guitar and song writing. It's such a challenge to write a good song.
I don't preform publicly too much these days, but we do a lot of music around the house with the kids and that is super fun and rewarding in an entirely new way. More info on my musical life can be found here:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR GAME: My game is called "Anomia". Anomia is an old Greek word that means "without law or custom". Sometimes it can be used to mean "chaos" or "lawlessness". There is also a modern medical usage which is "the inability to recall a word".
It's a card game. (When people hear I have invented a game, invariably the first question is always "Is it a video/computer game?" No, it's a card game. You play with real people in the same room as you.) The mechanics are extremely simple but the play experience is highly chaotic and funny.
The premise is that we all have a ton of random information stored in our brains; things to eat, dog breeds, movie directors, addresses, etc. I suppose some of it could be considered trivia, though Anomia mostly centers on our shared knowledge of everyday objects, people and places/events.
Players must face off with one another by quickly giving examples of everyday things. It sounds easy, but when you are under pressure, your brain freezes up. So, there you are trying to give an example of a noun or a doughnut flavor and all that comes out of your mouth is "Um, uh, uh, uh..." meanwhile your opponent is going through the same thing. Finally one of you spits out an answer and then everyone pretty much starts laughing.
The pressure of coming up with examples is compounded by the fact that you never know when you are going to face off with someone else until the moment is upon you.
It's a great party game, really fun with adults, amazingly funny with a group of kids, and works very well with a mixed age group too. It's also an incredible ice breaker.
HOW DO YOU PROMOTE YOUR WORK: Mostly word of mouth with a good dose of hitting the streets. I have been actively working on Anomia for about 5 or 6 years now. Over the years I held many, many play test parties. I'd invite friends (and friends of friends) over to play, take their feedback, and then think about ways to improve the game. I've probably played Anomia, in its various incarnations, with almost 300 people at this point. When I finally started to get serious about publishing Anomia, I had a good base of people who had been directly involved in helping me make it what it is today.
I also have a pretty large mailing list from my time as a regularly performing musician, so that helped too.
When I finally made the decision to self-publish (versus trying to license my idea to an existing game company) I realized I had a good shot at raising all the money I needed to produce an initial run without having to take out a loan or use a credit card. I appealed to everyone I know via Facebook, Twitter, my website and e-mail blasts and I was able to raise all of the money I needed to launch Anomia Press in about 7 weeks. I did this primarily by asking people to pre-purchase games. God bless the internet, social media, and my friends and family too.
Now that the first printing is in hand, and all of my pre-purchase orders have been shipped out, I am starting to get a lot of feedback via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. about people's experiences playing Anomia. I can't really express how amazing it is to see the game taking on a life of it's own. Consider that I have been present at just about every play-test session for the last 5 years. Now there are 500+ copies all across the US and many people are getting to play for the first time without me. I expect that this kind of feedback, especially via social media websites, will remain a major means of spreading the word. Obviously, I can't count on this extended network of friends/family/acquaintances forever. Happily, I am starting to see orders coming in from people I don't know at all. Hooray!!
FAVORITES: I'm an avid reader. I'm always reading something. In the last couple of months recent favorites have been The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz), Wind, Sand and Stars (Antoine de Saint Exupery), Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dilliard), The Deptford Trilogy (Robertson Davies), and Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro).
We like to cook and eat. A lot! Unfortunately our love of experimenting with food had been somewhat tempered by the reality-check of dinnertime with two young kids, but we still try to be inventive when we can. The kids tolerate our efforts for the most part. The dog eats whatever is left over.
Can't say I get to the movies at all these days, though we use Netflix a lot and have really enjoyed The Wire, Lost, and BSG.
With respect to games: It's funny, I'm actually not much of a gamer, though I do love Chess, Set, and Bananagrams.
IN FIVE YEARS I'D LIKE TO...See Anomia in stores across the country, have developed multiple alternate versions/expansion packs (I want to have a little rotating free-standing display like the magnetic poetry guys) and have Anomia Press be my full-time job. I'd also really like to get back to preforming music regularly!
It's our lucky day because Andrew is giving away a copy of his new game Anomia to 1 lucky On A Limb Reader. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me your favorite game to play. Contest ends December 7th at noon (EST). Good luck!
Follow Amomia on Facebook + Twitter


tscrapper said...

That sounds like a great game that would be perfect for holiday get-togethers, too. My favorite games to play right now are poker and uno.


Sydney said...

This game sounds really fun, our family is huge on playing games to this day when we get together. My personal favorite is Balderdash, the creativity people have in that game is amazing

Best of luck with your game Andrew!

One20 Farm and BluGiRlinK said...

this game sounds like a blast! I am all about card games, great for pullin the family closer!


Grace Hester Designs said...

What a fun concept! Would LOVE to win such a game and with a chatty almost-5-year-old with such a different perspective to "everyday life", this will got lots of evening play-time use for our family. Thanks for the opportunity!

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Melsclay said...

This sounds awesome and right up my alley! My favorite game is Trivial Pursuit!

Amy's The Painted House and More said...

Very nice interview. What a great idea to break out from the team and interview others.

My favorite game of all times is Pictionary. I think I have had the most fun playing that game than any other one I have ever played.


Tig said...

This game looks like a lot of fun! I love all games that have to do with trivia and wordplay (Scrabble, Boggle, Catchphrase, etc..), but my very favorite game is Balderdash!

Andrew - good luck with this's a great idea and I hope it takes you where you want to go!

Michelle Spelman said...

Great interview! It's so exciting to learn the story of real people behind new products - especially toys and games! Congratulations Andrew on the debut of Anomia!

At our house, we play lots of games. Recently, we're playing a lot of Mastermind, Yahtzee, a new game called Smash or Trash, and of course, another new card game you'll all be hearing about soon: Jukem Football. ;-)

AshleeMattMaxJack said...

Seems like a great game!! I have always wanted to make my own game!!

At my house we LOVE Scrabble, Monopoly, and Gin Rummy!!

J. said...

Apart from Anomia, my favorite game to play is FIFA Soccer on the XBox. I hope I win the free copy of Anomia!!!!

StephenMcC said...

We've got some pretty serious gamers in our social circle but the great thing about this one is that it's a great leveler across both age brackets and gaming intensity. Just being able to channel your random word retrieval is what rules. Our other recent favorite is Blockus - another great cross age group game.

Amber said...

I love Taboo & Balderdash. I think I'd love this game!

Liz3lia said...

I'm glad I did not learn about this game until recently, I don't know if I could have waited that long to get my own copy!
Other than Anomia, my new favorite game, my old favorite is Scrabble.

Julie said...

This sounds awesome!!
I haven't found a new game in a while, and I used to love me a good party g

My favorite of the last number of years is Wise and Otherwise. I truly end up laughing so hard that I'm crying.

Cindy Marie Jenkins said...

If his game is anything like his musicianship, I'm in! Trivial Pursuit is a long-time favorite.

Elizabeth Riley said...

I played Anomia for the first time last week with a 10 year-old and and 55 year-old. It was a blast! We were all laughing and stuttering and really enjoying each other. I HIGHLY recommend it. My other favorite game to play right now would be Scrabble. We've got four kids in our gang and Scrabble is something that we can all get into.

jmckay said...

I would love to play this game! My favorite party game is trivial pursuit!

Anonymous said...

Anomia is awesome! Until my copy arrives...I would have to say that my favorite game is Settlers of Catan!

Don Memo said...

i'm excited to play it for the first time. these days i probably play more "apples to apples" than anything else.

WordyDoodles said...

This looks great! I'm entering because these days I'd say Set is my favorite game, and Andrew mentioned liking Set also. Anomia (I keep wanting to write ammonia) looks so fun!

sue said...

my favorite game is Chinese Poker with spoons a close second. Heard so much about your game, its inception, parties before and after publication....cudos to you...enven in your youth I loved your creativity and quirky thinking. Much love and continued success, Sue Hart