"You are cordially invited..."
Meet Jocelyn! She has a blog at The Reading Residence, and is one of a group of bloggers who periodically receives a game from us for review.
Opinions from people like Jocelyn and her family are gold-dust to us: they're much closer to the general public than a glowing write-up by a professional or trade reviewer, however nice that is. She's not paid by us, and we send her products on the strict understanding that she'll be utterly honest in her opinions - good or bad. Otherwise, it's a bit of a waste of everybody's time. (Of course it helps when the games that you make are - you know - pretty damn good).
So how to thank her? Well, through the magic of the internet (and a certain suspension of disbelief), we offered Jocelyn a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan a virtual games evening for us; a fairytale not-so-quiet night in - and through the power of our collective imaginations WE WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN.
And we started by asking: celebrities... fictional characters... historical figures... who are you going to invite, and why?
"I love games nights, love them. I find them fun, but I also take them quite seriously in that I expect people to play properly and play to win! With that in mind, I tried to think about people that I thought would be fun to have around, without totally taking the evening off-tangent, and the right amount of people to keep things in check. I've gone for these five, plus myself, of course....
Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Both very funny and very intelligent, and I suspect, brilliant company to have around. I'd enjoy their witty repartee and I've no doubt they'd play well.
I was then trying to think of someone talented and knowledgeable, such as Jefferson, Da Vinci or Einstein, or in fiction Holmes or Poirot, but I'd worry that they wouldn't be light-hearted enough. I don't mean to slur them, as they may well have been brilliant company, but I feel there's a risk of them coming and it all being a little dry, so I'll go with Tony Stark AKA IronMan instead - so smart and always fun.
Then I think I'll throw in someone for a little spark, so I'm going to go for Merlin. He'd entertain us and keep the magic of the evening alive.
And finally, I'd invite my brother. Yes, I know, he's not famous, but as games nights started with my childhood, my brother remains my favourite game playing companion/opponent, so for it to be a perfect night, I'd need him there!"
Yes, we can imagine that Holmes might be a little heavy going to entertain, and you'd probably spend all evening fretting about what he'd discovered about you from the particular way that your hand grips the question cards. But that sounds like a good crowd - albeit some pretty challenging opponents in both intellect and cunning. Is there anything particular you'd be serving them food or drink-wise to get them to drop their guard?
"I think nibbles for grazing on all evening would be my preferred food offering, rather than a meal that stops play. A buffet style service available in the same room as we're playing, so people can grab food as and when they fancy it. There would then be plenty of alcohol, as I do realise that the only way that I could beat any of these people will be to get them drunk!"
And what about some background music?
"Songs from the 80s. It will just have that happy, feel-good vibe (I'll avoid The Smiths!), without being too much of a distraction."
And the key question - what would you play? Are there any favourites that get wheeled out again and again and again?
"I like a lot of Drumond Park games, so I think we'd kick off with the LOGO board game, swiftly followed by the Best of TV & Movies which I also really enjoy playing. My favourite board game of all time is Articulate, and I just know that with this company for the evening, this would be fast-paced and a lot of fun, probably the best round of Articulate I'd ever play!"
Thanks Jocelyn - this sounds brilliant. An endless buffet... intriguing guests... happy, feel-good music from the eighties... *waves magic wand* - all we need to do is to shut our eyes and listen to...