Vindicated Entertainment has produced numerous card games and tabletop RPGs over the past few years. We talk about where Vincent got his start, his thoughts on tabletop game design, and where tabletop fits into this growing creative counter-culture.
Below I've transcribed, and sometimes heavily paraphrased, the first portion of our discussion. This is only a small slice of the interview which I encourage everyone to watch in full here or just scroll down.
Alright, Vincent, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your history with Vindicated Entertainment?My name is Vincent Baker, not Vincent D. Baker, who also makes some tabletop stuff. I’ve been doing this for a while, I make tabletop games. A lot of people know me for an anime art style for what I’m doing. I didn’t start off necessarily going that way, but I do like a lot of anime so it was naturally inspiring me and as I focus things in it’s come to that. I used to be a former TCG competitive player, where my father actually paid a professional Magic the Gathering player to tutor me how to play Magic the Gathering professionally. So I was going around at the age of thirteen traveling to what they had called the Junior Super Series, I was competing in those, did multiple top eights, top fours, came in second place at one of them. I also worked with Ivan Van Norman, who works for the Darrington Press, who does stuff for Critical Role. I did things for him at Gen Con for his company, Hunter’s Entertainment, Alter Carbon, a lot of other stuff like that. So, I’ve also worked with GearBox, or 2K rather, who does Borderlands. They were doing a community event and I sort of found my way into there, helping orchestrate an event for them. Unfortunately, the budget was cut before we were actually able to have our games made for that, but I managed to work with them on that which was fun and exciting. And then since then, I’m probably most known for my card game, Spell Slingers, which I published in 2017, I also have a tabletop RPG called, Otherworlds, which is what I like to call future fantasy, but you know people say science fantasy, but we’ll go with that. And some other games that are coming around the corner.
I didn’t realize, I guess I should’ve known, but I didn’t realize there was a business of tutoring kids to play Magic the Gathering.Yeah, my dad’s a huge nerd, so he really wanted to celebrate my interest and I’m very thankful to my parents for being very supportive and when my dad saw that I took up interest in card games which started off as Pokemon, played that for a bit, played Yu-Gi-Oh TCG a bit, and then Magic for a bit, he really wanted to support that, so he paid someone twenty dollars an hour. And for back in early 2000, that was like, a thousand dollars an hour *laughs*.
So, this is a bit of a non sequitur, but you said it was a junior league. How young were the kids? Was there any lower limit? Did you ever crush any eight year olds and make ‘em cry?Heh. Maybe so. *laughter* The details are a little fuzzy on that one, but I can say the age limit was fifteen. Fifteen and a bit younger. I at least did it when I was thirteen. I may have done it a little bit earlier, like eleven to thirteen, but I definitely remember being thirteen and I did at least five or six of these events. And they were big. Some were smaller than others. But, I remember the biggest one took up this massive floor. If you’ve been to Gen Con there’s this area just full of people, not like the main vendors room, but the extra one where people were just playing board games. It was like a room that size filled with people in this tournament, so it was a wild experience.
You said that SpellSlingers was your first successful card game?Yeah, where SpellSlingers came from was my first game was Otherworlds which is my tabletop role playing game, but it was very hard to show people. When I worked for a pop culture store I would sell anime and video game memorabilia, stuff like that. And I’d constantly tell people, hey I’m a tabletop game designer and they’re like, cool, can you show me something you’ve made? I'd tell them about Otherworlds. It’s very tough and a lot of people that are more casual, they don’t know what the term tabletop RPG even means. When you say that you have to say something like, oh it’s like DnD and they kinda get what that means. So, it was just hard to show myself as a game designer. I wanted to make something that was very portable, very fast, very easy to teach anyone. So that’s where SpellSlingers came from, it actually was from a very mechanics-driven game where I need this for me to be easy to throw my bag. I need it to be easy to play. I need the setup to be very quick. I need to be able to show anyone. I need it to not take up too much time. So, I hope my boss doesn’t watch this, but at that time I’d bring the game with me and anytime customers were interested I’d show a quick round of it and they’d play. It’d be so quick and done. They’d love it and they’d be interested. Then they’d jump up and buy the game. It really was meant to highlight the weaknesses of having a tabletop RPG and to be strong points on the other end of that.