James Mathe: a tribute

James Mathe website

A tribute to James Mathe, Kickstarter pioneer

It started like every other morning

Every morning I wake up early, and I use this time to go through my facebook feed and catch up with the design community who mostly live stateside. This is normally posts about which mechanic to use, which theme will fit, general kickstarter advice. This morning was different: James Mathe had sadly passed away at the weekend and the community was reeling from the news. A lump formed in my throat and I had to hold back tears, which surprised me – I had never met this man, we had never talked in person, and yet we had interacted almost every day for 3 years. I felt the pain of loss as the shockwaves of the news travelled through the community, saddened at the impact this had on many in the same place as I. You may not know who he is, but I would like to tell you what this man did – for me, and designers across the globe. This is a tribute to the late James Mathe.

James Mathe, and his minions

James Mathe was the face of Minion Games with a number of highly successful games under their belt. Mr Mathe had been in the industry long enough to see the meteoric rise in kickstarter popularity, and had been using it since 2011. You may have backed one of his 28 projects or even played them post-kickstarter.

James had been there and done it all, and decided to share the knowledge he had gained to better serve the design community at large. He used his own blog site to store this vast wealth of knowledge as well as set up a number of facebook groups catered to design, kickstarter advice, as well as post-publishing support – end-to-end help just a click away. Now I can tell you, the whole process can be scary and overwhelming, so to have these questions answered was like the comfort of a warm blanket on a cold night – you weren’t the first to panic, nor will you be the last, and it’s a relief to know many have not only gone through it, but to come out the other side too. It was almost a joke within the community: “read the blog first”, which any budding designers can do at any time.

What does the future hold?

Honestly, nobody knows yet. The hope is that his blog will still be available for future generations to use, and I would like to signpost anyone wanting to know more about the process to have a look: the vast array of topics covered in there is immense. I know there are many that want to preserve the information so it isn’t lost along with the pioneer himself, even if it ends up living on in some other form. I’m not sure if my reaction has called into question what we leave behind when we’re gone: what our legacy will be, but it compelled me to write this; to begin sharing my own experiences, as a small gesture of gratitude to the man I didn’t know and yet profoundly impacted my life in recent years. As long as this spirit of community lives on, so too will James’ lessons live on in our words and our actions.

My name is Mark, and today I pay tribute to the man whose words have shaped thousands of games and kickstarter projects. I hope his family take solace in the knowledge he was, and will continue to be, a cornerstone for the boardgame community.

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