“Hey man, how you been!”. The voice on the phone was one of my best friends growing up, Ryan Ketner. When we first met at school it was after moving in the 10th grade to a new town. I was afraid I wasn’t going to make any friends with only about a month to go before summer. How wrong I was because I met someone who was my best friend for not only that summer but for 25 years more. Ryan, or as we always called him, ‘Ket’, (In fact my name is Ryan as well and we had a number of friends named Jason for some reason, and therefore no one was ever called by their first name, it was always their last which is not really uncommon among guys to do) was one of the most hilarious individuals I had ever know. We got into all kinds of trouble with our group of friends, but through it all he and I remained close even after graduation. We had drifted apart as this happens to everyone who ‘grows up’ and gets on with their lives, but we always managed to stay in touch and saw each other when we could. Ket was the first person I decided to call after having my thoughts churn about Kickstarter.
“Dude, you have to check out this article I found online about a card game on Kickstarter. It’s insane how much money they raised, but look, here’s an opportunity for you and I to work on something together.” He found the article about Exploding Kittens and was immediately interested.
There were a couple of reasons I had reached out to Ket. The most important reason was I thought he was someone who would want to make a game, and would join me in this venture if we could come up with a good plan. Something I had always wanted to do was to work with someone who I trusted, who could put me in check and I could do the same to them. Friends are the ones who won’t pull punches, they tell you like it is because they know that your love for them is based on loyalty. That’s what I had wanted when I started my poker club, and I had started it with two friends, but the partnership deteriorated after only a few weeks, and this happened for a number of reasons that to this day I don’t blame any one of us alone, but we didn’t plan ahead like we should’ve, and so I was left alone with the club to either sink or swim. What I had wanted was to work with friends but quickly found out that if not done right the new business venture can help dissolve that friendship. I had wanted to avoid this in the future, and as Ket and I talked about possibly working together we quickly established that if we did this we would take the steps needed to make sure we didn’t hurt our friendship.
The second reason I wanted to work with Ket was that he had already designed a game a few years earlier. He spent a long long time on it, but had never published it or pursued it once he had gotten a teaching job at a college. I still thought that he would be perfect to work with because he had spent so much time developing his game, working out the mechanics, and he did a phenomenal job on it.
Our conversation went on for a bit and then Ket explained to me that although he was still living where he had been, about 2 hours from me, he was getting ready to move to Chicago for a new job. My heart sank when he started to explain this because I thought that this was not going to work and I’d have to start this venture on my own. He told me the idea was interesting though and he’d have to think about it, but with the move, new job, etc., he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it happen with everything on his plate.
We hung up and I was immediately discouraged. I started going about my day and later as I was getting ready for work I realized that even though it would’ve been nice to work with one of my best friends I shouldn’t be discouraged. Sure, I was starting to put together in my mind what creating a game would entail, and started thinking about everything else that would have to go into a project like this. “How can I do this by myself?” “How do I even start?” All I truly knew that first day was that I was going to be determined. I was going to make a game, and I might even try to make a ton of games! Would it be hard? Sure it would, nothing worth doing is easy. I knew how ‘green’ and naive I was, but when you begin to feel passion for something you quickly start to overcome your anxiety to figure it out.
One week went by and I had already created my ‘To Do’ list. I had already sketched some ideas down for possible games, and started looking into websites, web design, etc. I was trying to identify the areas that I knew I would need to have down the road but that I would struggle with in order to get a jump start. That’s when the phone rang. It was Ket and he said the best thing I could’ve heard, “Hey man, I’ve been thinking about our last conversation. I just wanted tell you… I’m in!”.