MyJourney is a series about the people in the board gaming world. In this series, I invite people passionate about tabletop gaming, from gamers, reviewers, publishers, to distributors, and artists to share their experiences with board gaming.
In this week’s MyJourney entry, I reached out to Benjamin David, founder of The Board Game Vault - a YouTube channel that has a unique 2 minute review for board games - a format that defies the traditional 10-20 minute review.
Ben, tell us about yourself - where you grew up, what you do and what you are passionate about.
I grew up in Racine, WI, just south of Milwaukee in a busy family of 6! I went to college in Ohio to study piano and then spent a year in Beijing, China teaching English which was an unforgettable experience! I would go back in a heartbeat! Then, for the last 7 years I have lived in the greater Chicago area where I have led music at my church and just finished up a master's degree as I plan to be a church planting pastor in the Chicago area with my wife and newborn son! I love jazz, Bill Murray, and sport kites among other things!
Wow! That’s quite an adventurous youth you appear to have had. From there to board games, how did your journey begin?
As a kid, I always enjoyed board games, but was only exposed to the classics you would expect like Monopoly, Risk, Racko, Stratego, Dutch Blitz, and others. In high school a friend of mine stumbled upon a few hobbyist board games like Catan and Dominion which I really enjoyed but had no idea there were more! It wasn't until a few years ago, when I decided I wanted to cut back my media intake that I went on a sort of "media fast" for a month where I cut out all the screen time I could. That led to playing more games with my wife and friends and that is when I started to look online for other games and found the world of designer board games that I know and love today!
What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
Once I found the world of designer board games I began to watch reviews like crazy and saw all these games that I wanted to try. I truly enjoyed many of the reviewers I stumbled across but after a while I realized I would only get through 4 or 5 reviews in an hour because they often took 15 minutes a piece. I tried looking for shorter reviews but couldn't find any. Also, as an outsider to the hobby, I was surprised by the seemingly utter lack of professionalism in attire in all the channels I ran across. I didn't think that was bad, I was just surprised that almost no one seemed to dress with any class or style and I wondered what impression that gave to those who were also outsiders to the hobby. So, it was my desire to watch shorter, more professional looking reviews that finally led me to just trying to give it a go myself and that is how The Board Game Vault was born.
That’s interesting. The Board Game Vault is definitely a great resource for a person to quickly understand a game, and determine if it is for them.
Can you tell us a bit about other projects that you are currently working on and future plans?
My brother, Sam, and I just finished a huge board game table project which was a blast! We spent probably the best of a year tweaking our design and then several months finishing the build and we love it! As a reviewer who just works when I have a little extra time on the side there is a ton I would love to do with the channel but just don't have time for. I would love to do more with friends and other reviewers on the channel, I would love to do a bunch of top 10 lists and feel I have some unique ideas I haven't seen before! Time will tell! There are also some fantastic board game shops and companies in the Chicago area which I would love to do a piece on if I could! I've also thought about starting a blog focused on "board games and the soul," but I'm a horrible writer and not sure if there would really be much interest in that!
Finding time to keep your hobby going is definitely a challenge when you have a young son, and a job. But, at the end of the day, it is about unwinding from the stresses of the day with a game that reinvigorates you. What is your go to game?
My current favorite board game is 7 Wonders Duel. I love two player games as I find them to be extremely tactical and strategic and there is very little downtime, which I love! I play board games to play, not to watch others play! 7 Wonders Duel is a unique delight for me as I love that you must be efficient in building your engine, there are multiple paths to victory to choose from, and that path that your opponent has chosen really affects how you have to play and adjust your strategy. It is the most brilliant half hour experience available to gamers today!
That sounds fun. I now want to go buy 7 Wonders Duel to check it out myself.
Thank you Benjamin, for taking the time to talk to me today! I wish you all the very best in your journey and look forward to seeing more.
Be sure to check out his YouTube channel.
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