Harold Buchanan Interviews Gene Billingsley from GMT Games

Harold Buchanan is the illustrious game designer of the American Revolution game Liberty or Death as well as the awesome-sounding game Flashpoint: South China Sea (which has made the cut! Woo!! I’m on that list).

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He also has a great podcast called “Harold on Games” where he interviews noted game designers, artists, and other figures in the boardgaming industry.

Recently, he did a 2-part interview with Gene Billingsley, founder of the great company GMT Games. Since joining the gaming world, I’ve enjoyed many of their games, including my #1 game ever played, Time of Crisis.

I listened to Part 1 last week and finally got to Part 2 this week.

Harold did this interview during last Fall’s Weekend at the Warehouse (something I would love to do if I could make it down to California in the Fall like that). He spent a couple of days with Gene, including just chatting (and recording) over breakfast at Gene’s home.

What a raw and wonderful way to record a podcast.

I don’t normally call out specific episodes of a podcast on this blog (though I do have to say that Harold’s podcast is a great one in general that you should check out), but I really wanted to make note of this one for a couple of reasons.

First, it is a wonderful look into the game pitching process.

I forget who the designers were, but Harold was allowed to record these designers pitching a game on the current Syria conflict to Gene while at the Warehouse, and we got to hear all of the discussion in its raw (yes, I used that word again) form.

The back and forth between them all, the “this might work better,” or “this is how I was picturing this” discussion was great to hear. I never really knew how a game pitch worked, so being a spectator was very interesting.

Second, hearing the story of GMT and the P500 system, how they could easily have gone out of business in the late 1990s when many game distributors folded, and how Gene (and others that he bounced ideas off of) created the P500 system to help gauge what should be published and when, was an eye-opener. I always wondered how that worked.

Gene talks about the difficulties of running a game business, and then talks about his newest game design, Mr. President.

And a lot of other stuff as well.

These two hours are so much more detailed than I could get into with a normal Q&A, and it was fascinating to hear Gene talk about all of this.

I highly recommend you check out the interview (many links to the various ways you can do that on Harold’s blog, so I won’t link to them here, but I subscribe on iTunes).

And check out the rest of the episodes as well. Lots of interesting personalities and insights into the game design world.

However, Harold, you did miss a question. That burning question that everyone really wants to know (Editor – And by “everybody,” Dave means just him) and I can’t believe you didn’t ask it.

When is there going to be an expansion for Leaping Lemmings?

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6 thoughts on “Harold Buchanan Interviews Gene Billingsley from GMT Games”

  1. Yes, this was a particularly insightful interview (even by Harold’s high standards)!
    I loved to see the business side of gaming.
    That said, all this talk of the upcoming Mr. President game might have made me drool 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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