Redshirt Interviews: Great Minds Think Geek
Tabletop gaming will always have a special place in my heart. As much as I love a good video game, nothing quite replicates sitting down with a bunch of friends over a table adorned with one of the glorious tabletop games I’ve grown to love: From Munchkin to one of my personal favorites Arkham Horror, tabletop gaming has that certain something for anyone and everyone.
Naturally, when I heard about a tabletop gaming catering service I had one hell of a grin on my face. It was my pleasure to get in contact with Jesse Tannous of GreatMindsThinkGeek.com to get the words straight from the horses mouth about this exciting new service in this amazing industry.
Redshirt – “Would you be able to introduce yourself and your business for those readers who might not be familiar?”
Jesse – “My name is Jesse Tannous and while I’ve always liked tabletop games and played a lot of pen-and-paper RPG’s from the World of Darkness universe when I was younger. As I got older though I found myself with less and less time to devote to long RPG campaigns, and started to gravitate towards the world of board games. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve contributed to the tabletop gaming rooms of local conventions with my friends and colleagues, and that’s really where I found my passion for tabletop games. Since I’m not quite ready to start my own convention I wanted to build something that I could grow myself, so I started Great Minds Think Geek. I figured the idea of a caterer for board games was a simple enough concept for people to grasp.”
R – “What inspired you to start your own business?”
J– “Other than wanting to have my own business doing something I enjoy, whatreally inspired me to start this venture was how much I enjoyed playing tabletop games with new people. Working conventions you meet tons of new people with all kinds of personalities. I’ve always been a people person, and I really enjoy getting new groups of players into games. It can be intimidating sometimes to try a new game, especially with how many are coming out per year right now. Having a friendly person there to help ease into a new game can just really make that first experience so much more enjoyable”.
R – “What has been your favorite moment in your career?”
J –.” While Great Minds Think Geek is still a very new venture for me that started about six months ago, I suppose I consider my career to extend back the last 5 years or so when I started working at conventions in the tabletop gaming rooms. I’ve also been doing freelance reporting on the tabletop gaming industry for about the same amount of time publishing stories for a variety of websites, and even some magazines. So some of my favorite moments include getting the opportunity to interview and talk to some of my favorite creators like Onyx Path Studio’s (World of Darkness) Rich Thomas, or the designer of Pandemic Matt Leacock. It’s also the best feeling when you introduce a group of players to a new game and they have a great time, and that’s something I get to experience regularly. “
R – “What was the biggest challenge in your career?”
J –.” I suppose the biggest challenge is getting awareness out about this particular type of service. So far I’ve gotten really good feedback from clients about what I do, and most of them have never heard of anything like it before. While that’s an exciting aspect of this business, it also hinders me a bit because it can be difficult to sell people on something they haven’t heard about before. Beyond that I would say the other biggest challenge is not having as much time as I’d like to devote to this project. I still maintain a full-time job to pay the bills, but the good news is that I’ve grown a little bit pretty much every month since I started so a day may come where I can make this my full-time job. “
R – “What type of events do you usually cater?”
J -.” Right now my most frequent work has been local businesses like barcades scheduling me to host weekly tabletop gaming events for their customers. I’ve met a ton of wonderful people through these jobs so I’m really grateful to the owners for giving me a shot. Thankfully each time a business has hired me they have seen the value in what I do and end up scheduling additional events, which has been a really nice feeling. I’d like to start expanding to some local coffee shops here in Phoenix, Arizona. The great thing about this is that as long as a place has some light, tables, and chairs I can bring gaming events to them. Beyond that I offer services for private events like weddings or parties, and I’m also available for conventions. “
R – “What is your most memorable gaming moment?”
J –.” I’d say my most memorable moment would be when I was first introduced to the World of Darkness back in college. I’ve always been a fan of magic and mages in modern urban settings like what you see in the Dresden Files, or Iron Druid book series. So when my former roommates introduced me to Mage: The Awakening I was instantly hooked. The emphasis on character development and storytelling has always stuck with me, so those memories of playing an Awakened hacker who liked to fling lightning around always make me smile. While World of Darkness is designed to be a little bit more serious, I think on the other end of that I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as each time I had a session with a group of friends playing Savage Worlds together. We tried playing an evil campaign, but we were trying to be the sneaky kind of evil like Loki from the Avengers movies. We were awful, we basically were good guys, until we ended up getting murdered in the second village we tried to scam. My favorite line from that whole campaign was from the DM after our first game he said, “Well, for the first session of your evil campaign you saved a village from kobolds and ended up paying full price for that donkey, nice job.”
R – “Any games have you particularly excited?”
J –.” Other than the occasional opportunity I get to play a pen-and-paper RPG I’m not usually one for long-form board games where you have a lot of miniatures and components or anything. However, recently a friend of mine introduced me to Zombicide: Black Plague. The last time I binged on a game as hard as I have on Zombicide was probably about 5 years ago when I was first introduced to Betrayal at the House on the Hill. It’s just complicated enough to satisfy my desire for complex strategy without having too many rules to keep track of. The turns can end up being really quick too which I always appreciate, so yeah I’m already looking forward to the next time I can play that one again.”
R – “If folks want to learn more about you and your business, where can they find you online?”
J –.” I have a website GreatMindsThinkGeek.com (I know it’s a long name) that has a calendar where I have all my events listed. If people want to message me for quotes or schedule events they can do so from the website. Great Minds Think Geek also has a Facebook, but I’m not huge on social media so I mostly post pictures of new games I order, and use it as another place to keep track of upcoming events. People can easily reach me by messaging through the Facebook group too though. “
Whether you are new to tabletop gaming or a grizzled veteran, Great Minds Think Geek is an excellent way to enjoy this amazing hobby for yourself, your friends, and your family. If you don’t believe me, check them out for yourself!