Black board game designer co-create ‘Lord of the Rings’ game, group works to expose Black people to gaming

CNN Newsource Pristine Villarreal

OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — Some Black board game enthusiasts are hoping to bring more people of color into the world of gaming, and a local game designer is getting ready to have his work featured in Target.

Marcus Ross loves board games, and he’s made a few, too, but this one is bigger than the rest.

“When you’re doing a licensed game, you give people the moments that they expect and then a few surprises,” Ross said.

“The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book” game will debut in Target this Sunday.

“The eight chapters take me through the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ saga from Frodo receiving the ring in the Shire all the way through destroying it at Mordor,” Ross said.

He co-designed several chapters. It’s a cooperative game that is played like a book.

“Breaking up the Fellowship, then Helm’s Deep, and then the finale. It’s actually quite a lot,” Ross said.

A lot of research went into designing his chapters.

“There’s a difference when you’re watching a movie for fun and then watch a movie for work. You need to replicate this for people,” Ross said.

Ross said despite making four games, he doesn’t know many Black game designers out there.

“I would not need all these fingers to pick out the ones notable,” Ross said.

Starla and Mik Fitch love playing games and started with their son.

“When we started doing family game night, he was like 4 or 5 years old. We wanted to introduce him to board games so we could play together,” Starla Fitch said.

They soon ran into the same problem after visiting board game conventions as a family.

“We’d go in there with us and our son, and there’d be no kids. They wouldn’t be people of color and very few women,” Starla Fitch said.

They wanted to expose more people of color to the expansive world of board games. That’s when they started Our Family Plays Games.

“I think if we knew there were more games out there than just Monopoly, we would play more often. It’s just a joy. It’s a stress reliever and we as people of color have enough stresses in the world that if we can find more things that are simple, can give us joy and happiness, I think we need to do it,” Starla Fitch said.

The Fitches host Ross on their YouTube channel Our Family Plays Games, through a series called OFPG Voices. They say it gives gamers of color a platform.

“We have a separate show called OFPG Voices, where we bring in other underrepresented voices, designers, content creators and artists. They come in and talk about their experiences in the hobby and games they like to play,” Starla Fitch said.

For Ross, he said anyone looking to get into designing games should.

“Anyone can do this. It just takes dedication to learn how games are made and learning how to integrate things new people would expect,” Ross said.

Our Family Plays Games is hosting a board gaming night this Saturday starting at 5 p.m. at Urban League of Nebraska on 30th and Lake streets.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.


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