My name is Jason Moughon, the “big kid” behind Big Kid Games, I guess you could say. As the founder/owner, I wanted to take a moment and share some things about myself and Big Kid Games. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, but I just never jumped on it. It seems like there’s no better time than now, and you’ll understand why as you read along.
The Beginning (part 1):
We have to start with games, of course! I grew up playing board and card games with my parents and friends, mostly my dad, and it was a blast. We’d play all of the good ole “classics” like Chutes & Ladders, Life, Candy Land, Operation, Monopoly, Clue, etc. One of our favorites was the card game, Battle (or War)! We always had a good time with the back and forth of that one…the battles after playing the same card, and then revealing the cards you either won or lost; good times.
When I was around 12 or so, my grandfather (Papa!) taught me Chess. Wow, I couldn’t get enough of chess after that. We’d sit and play and drink coffee, and it was the best. I miss Papa quite a lot. I became a pretty decent chess player over the years and I still love to play to this day. He was a good instructor.
In early high school, I discovered Hero Quest... and my board game world was changed forever. My friends and I would play and play and play, and it was glorious! There was a little bit of Risk, Stratego, Crossbows & Catapults, Dark Tower, and D&D mixed in, as well. And then… video games.
Of course, I played video games since I was a boy. Atari 2600, Nintendo, arcade games, and such. But board games, like the ones listed above, would often break through and bring my friends and I together for epic sessions of cardboard fun. As video games became more advanced, and as I grew older, they tended to grab onto my attention more tightly and board games were mostly lost in history.
Board games made a giant comeback into my life while in college. First with Risk, which my best bud Sean and I couldn’t get enough of, and then, in 2004, as a brand new newlywed, Wizards of the Coast released the Star Wars Miniatures Game, and I was sucked in hard. I went all in. Every set. Every extra. I loved it. We would play for hours. Week after week. Our group became bigger and we would play the most epic of skirmishes. Skirmishes so big that we would have to leave them set up for days to finish them later. Yoda would have been proud.
In late 2005, Jen and I had our first child, our firstborn son, Jaden. Things changed. I had less time. Less money. And some things had to go. Needing money, I painstakingly sold all of my Star Wars Miniatures stuff. I took that $1500, and moved on. I still regret it to this day. But… it needed to be done. Sacrifices are hard, but they are often necessary. Once again, tabletop games made an abrupt exit.
The Beginning (part 2):
I don’t know how it happened exactly. Years later, roughly 2009, with a new job and some extra cash, I thought I’d take a look at the newest Star Wars miniatures sets. Also, I thought I’d try to buy some of the minis from the original sets that I once had and loved. I wanted to play again! I searched the web and I came across a little known webstore known as… Cool Stuff Inc. I think you have an idea of what happened next.
So, minis were purchased, games were purchased, and a whole new world of board games was once again opened up to me.
Munchkin was one of the first games I received from CSI (later I found a local-ish game store). My friends and I would play frequently. Hilarious nights of beer and laughter. Then Tsuro. Then Ticket to Ride, then… , then…
By this time, my oldest son, Jaden, was getting older. When he was around 6/7, he started playing games with me. He has always been sharp. Even at an early age, we would play games with decent amounts of depth. One of our favorites was (and still is) Legendary: Marvel. I had to help him with some of his combos and chaining effects, but he grasped the concept and understood the game. In just a short number of years, my board game collection grew and grew. Then came the Kallaxes. “Is there more space in the house?”
One day, Jaden and I were playing the Wii. It was a battle game that we enjoyed and played often. A thought came to me and I shared it with him. “You know what? This would be fun as a board game!” He smiled, and I said, “Let’s go make it.”
And that’s how Big Kid Games was created. I created the publishing brand to publish my own designs, but, alas, we haven’t yet. :) Things got busy with other games and those designs were shelved. However, there are a few we are planning to bring out in the future!
A huge shoutout to Jim Pinto who, when I wasn’t heard of yet (I, not we, was just a logo - a bad logo), trusted me with his game, Gondola, in 2016. Naturally, Gondola, our first game, was a major learning experience. So many things were done poorly; lack of development, an outright purchase vs. a licensing deal, and, of course, I didn’t know what I was doing. Money was lost and lessons were learned.
After Gondola barely squeaked through its campaign (which, then, I was still over the moon about), we took on an abstract strategy game called Gardens of Mars. Gardens of Mars’ designer had signed some games with a European publisher and put me in contact with them regarding the localization of one of his other games. I took a look at it with consideration, but ultimately passed on the opportunity. The game just wasn’t worth me raising capital to bring to North America. However, we moved forward with Gardens of Mars where I amped up the theme via art and characters, then launched the campaign for the game in early summer of 2017. It didn’t get any traction and the campaign was canceled. Losing even more money, I didn’t look back at the project. Taking it as a sign for the market’s disinterest in the game, I shelved it. This was a big blow. With even more money lost, I was thinking of hanging up my publisher’s hat.
In need of income for my family, I went to work with “regular employment” and tried to keep up with the hobby as best as possible. I still watched all the reviews, watched was coming out and making waves, etc. I still wanted to be involved.
A Gracious Email:
Out of nowhere in September of 2017, the European publisher mentioned above, emailed me. Enter White Goblin Games.
Due to our previous discussions regarding the localization of another game, they included me in their email list for future titles. During this dark time of not knowing how to proceed in the industry, and after a failed campaign, this email sent my heart racing and caused anxious excitement that is hard to explain. White Goblin Games were prepping for Essen with their 2017 releases. They were looking for publishers in other regions to partner with by localizing these upcoming games. In this list of releases was a game called Montana…. And I saw the designer was Rüdiger Dorn.
My jaw hit the floor and electricity surged through my body. This email was to me. WGG was inviting me to localize Rüdiger Dorn’s next game! I was a fan (still am) of Rüdiger Dorn and his amazing catalog of designs! I couldn’t believe the opportunity. It was crazy. I immediately responded to WGG and said, “Montana!... I want Montana.”. Of course, void of all the excitement and lack of professionalism. I let WGG know that I was interested in Montana. We proceeded in communications and they agreed to handoff a copy to a friend (my “representative” - smile) at Essen. But… now I had to come up with a lot of money for the license. Yikes!
Fortunately, I was able to secure a loan from a friend who invested in the company (basically just this one project) and WGG and I signed papers. Montana was mine to bring to America and Australia/New Zealand. Now with Essen over and the game released in Europe, it was time to get to work!
And the rest, as they say, is….
History is a funny thing. We learn from it. We are ashamed and depressed from not being better than it. And hopefully, we overcome and rise above it. I launched the Montana: Heritage Edition campaign in mid-November of 2017. I had two weeks after Essen to finalize agreements and royalty payments, graphics, the Kickstarter campaign page, promote, and…. wow. With the help of a few friends, I was able to get through, and Montana funded. The campaign did quite well considering the timeframe and season. I am very grateful to White Goblin Games for the opportunity and trust. They really caused Big Kid Games to be able to push forward and make great games.
This has been a difficult journey. Publishing comes with a lot of risks and challenges. But when a product that you put a lot of time and love into comes out wonderfully, it is an amazing feeling. It’s good to know others are enjoying something that you helped create. And then there are times when all there is are problems. Montana’s misprint challenge was hard to overcome. It took a lot of manpower and time to work through most of it. Honestly, we are still trying to finish with the backlash it caused. It was, and still is, a mess. It isn’t easy being the one in charge of and behind everything. The one with whom the buck stops. The one who is ultimately responsible no matter who you’re waiting on, what the factory does, the delays from uncontrollable circumstances, and so on. But, the truth of the matter is, you are. I am.
Big Kid Games’ latest funded game, Sweet Mess was somewhat of a hit. The campaign was very enjoyable and successful. People were, and still are, excited about the game. But delays are hindering that. It’s understandable. You’re told you’ll be getting something by a certain date and then that doesn’t happen. And then, on top of that, delays keep happening and keep pushing things back. It’s rough.
As a backer and consumer, you lose faith in the company. It tarnishes the image of them in your mind. As a publisher and company, you have to change everything. Schedules, future release dates, campaign schedules for other games, etc. Yes...it’s rough.
Big Kid Games:
I still chuckle at the thought of this. Big Kid Games. That’s just me. It’s literally just me. Maybe it was a mistake to do this, but always I used the proverbial “we” and “us” when referring to BKG. I think it was the right thing to do, but it’s...strange. I think that it can cause misconceptions. There’s no employees, staff, offices, warehouses… only me. At my house (or the coffee shop) trying to keep up with a business and a family of soon to be 8! Of course, I use contractors such as illustrators, graphic designers, developers, etc. And I have to rent warehouse space and pay companies to do fulfillment and so on. But… I am Big Kid Games. There are many things that are on my shoulders. The English edit of the Montana rulebook, Sweet Mess’ development, most of the Sweet Mess rulebook(s), marketing graphics, the BKG logo, hundreds of emails, convention planning, manufacturing and distribution logistics, all that was/is me. It’s a lot. And you know what? It’s kind of a poetic thing. Even though I have to rely upon others for many things, it’s still just me. Meaning, I am responsible. Amidst all the setbacks and failures, I am the one at the end of the day who has to own it. Of course, the reliance on others brings delays and problems, but just a drop in the bucket compared to the ones I cause. A website that isn’t updated, unanswered emails, disgruntled and disappointed customers, the list goes on.
So with that, I extend you an apology. Backers of Sweet Mess, those who received misaligned punchboards or missing components in Montana, those still waiting on Montana corrections, and to those affected by any future mishap and delay (hopefully very minimal). Please accept my sincerest apologies. And, also, my deepest gratitude for your support.
We (see there...I mean I) aim to get better every day and with every campaign. I hope to refine every process of what we do and to improve our communications with our supporters. My job is hard, but I still need to do it better. I have people relying on ME to deliver great games and in a timely manner. And I’m going to get better at doing that! I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you.
Big Kid Games