Danielle Reynolds recently joined our Underdog Games team! She's worked in the tabletop games industry for a while now, and we're happy to have her. We wanted to welcome Danielle by featuring her in our series, People Who Love Games. Enjoy getting to know a little bit more about her.
What's your involvement in the board game industry?
Beyond starting with Underdog Games as the new Head of Kids Game Design and Development, I was working as a game designer and developer both freelance and with Forever Stoked Creative. Besides that, I am the host of a podcast called Game Design Unboxed: Inspiration to Publication hosted on the Know Direction Network. In the podcast, I talk with tabletop game designers on specific games or series of games they have created. Listeners will learn the initial idea that inspired the game, how the game developed over time and where the game is now after being published. It's starting up its third season this Fall which is super exciting!
I am also an officer with Tabletop Gaymers, promoting diversity, equity and inclusion by championing the visibility and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community through tabletop gaming. I also volunteer as an admin for Board Game Broads+, which is a space for women, gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans folks in the tabletop game industry on Facebook. I am on the board of Unpub helping plan/run playtesting spaces and panels at conventions. I'm also a mentor for the Tabletop Mentorship Program, helping new faces get into our amazing industry. I kinda live and breathe gaming!
Where are you from or where do you live?
I'm originally from Flagstaff, AZ but moved to Naperville, IL, which is a Chicago Suburb, to study Graphic Design and Psychology at North Central College and stayed afterwards. In 2021, I relocated to the east coast to Springfield, MA for a job as a Project Coordinator with a game manufacturing company where I also helped with their design studio.
In Fall of 2021 I had my first game come out that's a co-design called No Filter, published by Big G Creative. The game is now sold in Walgreens, Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. I still live in Massachusetts and enjoy visiting the many surrounding states.
How did you meet Underdog's co-founder, Charlie Bink?
I met Charlie back in 2019 when I first realized game design was a thing anyone could do. I joined the Tabletop Mentorship Program as a mentee and thanks to it, ended up at a Game Design Retreat that Charlie was also attending with his wife. Since then we've stayed in touch and supported each other's game endeavors. He was also on the fifth episode of Game Design Unboxed with me as a guest talking about the Trekking Series!
What is it about board games that you love?
I love disconnecting from screens and hanging with friends. I am a very fast-paced person so games give me a chance to slow down and try and solve a puzzle or make some lasting memories with friends. The combination of art, mechanics, theme and the general experience make me want to try a new game every chance I get!
What's a project you've been working on lately?
I've been lucky enough to work with Underdog Games on their new game HerStory that will be coming out later this year. I've enjoyed collaborating with the team on everything from the mechanics of the game to graphic design suggestions. It has felt amazing to be able to voice my opinions and discuss what changes the game could take. HerStory is easily my favorite project I've worked on thus far in my early career.
Do you have any advice for others who want to work in the game industry?
Make your own opportunities. Join local design groups or online ones. Play all types of games to teach you about different mechanics and ways they can be combined. Read, watch or listen to different forms of media about the industry or game design in general. Join the Tabletop Mentorship program to learn any part of the industry that interests you. It's not only for game designers! I got into the industry by hosting design groups, volunteering for non-profits and going to conventions to network. But most importantly, be a positive influence. Lift up other people versus stepping on them to get to the next level.
What would you like to see change about the board game industry?
I want to see more new unique faces. I'm excited that there's started to be a push for more women and minorities to have their games made. I want to continue to see that growth in the future. That means more LGBTQ+ representation, people of color and women in higher company roles paving the way for future opportunities.
What's a hobby you're into that's NOT related to board games?
I adore hiking and rock climbing. I belong to Central Rock Gym on the east coast and try to go 1-3 times a week. It's a fun way to trick myself into working out with a physical puzzle. Plus, it's where I met some of the best friends I'll probably ever have! Not sure if travel can be considered a hobby but if you watch my social media, I never spend a week in the same state. I'm all over the place exploring to help me stay creatively fresh!