Industry Spotlight: Rob Merickel (Passport Game Studios)

Rob MerickelRob Merickel is no stranger to the LudiCreations team. Rob is the Senior Director of Business Development for Passport Game Studios. Passport, of course, joined LudiCreations as a co-publisher of [redacted] and will be joining in the print run for Pocket Imperium. In his role as Senior Director of Business Development, Rob works with designers and other publishers to fill Passport’s catalog of offerings with great product. He also plays a lot of games.

Rob attributes his love of games to his mother, stating that it is “because of her that [he] loves games and puzzles to this day”. In fact, given the choice of anyone in the world to game with, he would choose his mother and wishes he could still play games with her.

If able to design his perfect game day, he would need three things. The first two are pretty obvious: he’d want to be around good friends and great games. Gaming at a cabin in the mountains isn’t a requirement, but the absence of wifi and cellular reception would certainly make his final need, not having a care in the world, a likely possibility.

If gaming in the woods away from the demands of everyday life sounds appealing, there are a few things you will need to successfully game with Rob. First, you would need a competitive spirit. However, you would need to balance that competitiveness with the capacity to not be a sore winner or loser. Finally, a sense of humor goes a long way when gaming with Rob.

Rob has a very inquisitive nature. If he could use a crystal ball to know about the future of industry, he would want to know what the industry looks like in 100 years. He’d want to know what mechanics are still popular or if new ones have come into favor. He’s interested in how games look and how widely they are played.

“Just look at all the changes in the last 20 years – who can imagine what the future will bring?”

No one knows what the future will bring, but looking into the past reveals Rob’s greatest gaming accomplishment. He considers outlasting five world champions in a World Series of Poker event his greatest gaming accomplishment. Upon second thought, maybe it wasn’t that great of an accomplishment since he didn’t “make it to the money”.

While the prevailing environment of the gaming community is often debated, Rob lists several positive characteristics relating to the community as a whole: acceptance, imagination, creativity, intelligence, and the feeling of community.

While his role as Senior Director of Business no doubt leaves him incredibly busy, Rob shared what would be important to him if he was ever to be a board game reviewer. He’d primarily want the reviews to be entertaining. “People want to play games to have fun,” he says. “The reviews should be fun also.”

On a personal level, Rob tries not to judge when it comes to themes in board games.

“That is a matter of personal taste. What [he] may think is ‘over the line’ may be fair game for someone else and vice versa. If the theme isn’t interesting to [him], [he] just plays something else.”

Rob finds the “learning curve for the heavier games” to be the biggest problem facing gamers today. He cites the fact that most Americans didn’t grow up playing the types of board games that are popular today. Kids his son’s age – second generation Magic players – are only now starting to play euro games.

“Many new people are getting into games now, and the casual games and family games are all the rage. There’s a divide between some of the older gamers who like the heavier games and the new gamers. Luckily, many of the older gamers like myself are happy to play lighter games as well.”

While he is able to see the positive in the gamer divide, Rob’s interest in Nutella is, unfortunately, unclear. When in Nuremberg, he had a Nutella crepe. He remembers it being tasty but also too hot. He burnt his mouth. Let’s focus on the tasty part of this story, and call it a win.