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 Ashlee Cramb, long time blogger on BoardGameGeek, and owner of the highly-followed and super popular Instagram page: boardgamergirl.
Ashlee is from sunny and beautiful Brisbane, Australia. She is 28 years old with a self-declared love for board games. Ashlee does drafting for engineers by day, and drafts lay people into the board game world by night!
Ashlee, thanks for talking to us. To begin with, can you tell us about your journey into the hobby?
I have always been on the more "nerdy" side with my love of sci fi, so when my boyfriend brought a copy of Catan home and we played it, I fell in love. I discovered some popular reviewers like the Dice Tower and realized there was this whole world of games out there. I ended up finding a board game cafe in my city and tried out a few more games (including dominion, my true gateway game). From that point, I was hooked. For me, my favorite experience in board gaming is the interaction and fun you can have with your friends and family, that isn't created by anything else. The most interesting experience I've had would have to be one night when we were playing Cosmic Encounter and we all cheered so loudly a neighbor knocked on our door and asked us to be quiet.
We have all been there! It is generally a party game like One Night Ultimate Werewolf, or Resistance that does it with my group of friends. From learning about Catan just a while back, to becoming a prominent presence in board gaming circles, what inspired you to take your love of the hobby to Instagram?
I just loved the hobby so much and wanted to get involved in some way. I didn't have a lot of free time to do anything like video reviews, so I thought photos would be the best way to show my love for the hobby. I also thought that photos were a good way to get people involved in the hobby, games are so visually stunning and can catch someone’s attention quite easily.
You have been posting for nearly two years now, and have posted more than 800 interesting pictures with scores of games. One can clearly see that you are passionate about a lot of these games. But which of these games would you say is your favorite?
My favorite board game is Cosmic Encounter, and the biggest reason I love it is because every single game is memorable. I love games where you remember the crazy things that happen, and all the fun you have with your friends, and Cosmic Encounter always delivers an amazing game experience. I also love it because it's sci fi themed, there’s a ton of player interaction, variable player powers, it plays well in a big group, and it's not too long.
You have an amazing Instagram page. I also love your posts on the BoardGameGeek! Have you considered anything else? What’s next for you?
Thank you!! I'm not sure what's next, honestly. I'd love to get more involved in video reviews or podcasting but I am really struggling to find the time. Hopefully later in the year I can get something setup, but I also want to do something a bit original because I think video reviews are already covered so well by people in the industry. I have a few ideas, but nothing has materialized yet.
What do you think of the current renaissance in the board gaming world? Do you see more casual players getting into this lifestyle?
The thing I love so much about modern board games is that there is literally a game out there for everyone. If someone says to me that they don't like board gaming, then my response is usually that they just haven't found the right game for them yet. I think there are so many awesome games out there for people to play, that the idea of a traditional gamer (e.g. war gamers, or RPG'ers) is no longer the status quo.
I agree. There is a game for literally every palette these days. It is a great time for people looking to get into the hobby. Though, I must say, I feel like I have fewer female friends who are into playing board games than male friends - as a female boardgamer in a male dominated arena, how does this make you feel?
Yeah I know how you feel! It would be nice to have more females in the hobby but i think it will just take time. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to contribute to this hobby in some way, to show the other ladies that us girls can get super into playing games. I’m used to all men because I work in an all male engineering office so it doesn’t bother me too much, but I would love for more females to join this hobby.
Do you think this has to do with the perception of the gaming as predominantly being ‘combat’ oriented?
Yeah I think there’s something to that. I’d say that people still have a bad perception of games. Not sure what it's like in the rest of the world but I feel like here in Australia board games are very much associated with the “nerds” and the idea of what boardgaming is to most people, is sitting in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons, or Axis & Allies. I know that sounds terrible but I just think we need to get the message out there that there are so many options for gaming. I honestly believe there’s a game out there for everyone, even if it's only a simple party game. People are are also easily scared away by the rules etc.
Very true. I was unaware as well of the subculture till I got more seriously into it. I am glad you are breaking these myths with your blogging and social presence. Speaking of which, you post and engage frequently, but is there something about you that your followers would be surprised to learn?
I don't have a board game group, I just have a few different friends that I play with. Also, sadly I've never been to a convention, although I'd love to but it's very expensive from Australia to attend somewhere like GenCon in America, and the timing just hasn't been right for me yet.
That is interesting. I too play with different friends but never have one defined set of people to play with. It is fun to play with people with very different skill sets and leanings though. I do hope that you get to go to a convention soon.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today! I look forward to more of your interesting posts. I hope your work continues to inspire more people to venture into this fun hobby.
Be sure to follow Ashlee on BoardGameGeek and Instagram.
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