Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Jason Anarchy about his awesome game Drinking Quest (which you should totally go buy, right now), and I should add that this interview is long overdue as I’ve been promoting his games for quite some time and managed to meet him face to face the past 2 years at gencon. Somehow though, I’ve never gotten around to do a proper interview! So here it is in all of it’s glory. Enjoy!
So…how exactly did DQ get started? Were you just shitfaced one night and decided that you needed to complicate things further than Red and Black, or something much much more?
I’ve been making games and game systems since I was a little kid just for fun. By the time I was an adult I would usually drink with my friends on game night. I host a very specific kind of game night that puts the enjoyment of the group over worrying about complicated rules but I still really like tabletop RPGs.
At the end of the night at a wedding, a friend suggests combining the two things. Months later it clicked and I thought I should actually do this. So more than anything else I’m selling a game that sets up a great night with your friends. I wanted to share that experience.
You go by the name Jason Anarchy, that sounds punk. Prove to me how punk you are quickly, before I label you a poser!
I’ve done the following things to earn punk cred:
- Sang the rap verse of “Let Them Eat War” on stage with Bad Religion
- Sang the entirety of “Those Anarcho Punks are mysterious” on stage with Against Me
- Made a tabletop gaming anthem with MC Lars (who started his career sampling punk bands)
Besides these go-to kind of stories I’m just absolutely obsessed with punk rock and would have trouble summing it up in a short answer. Every six months I’ll make a top 100 playlist of my current favourite punk songs. Jason “Anarchy” is a name I gave myself from a crappy punk band I was part of. It’s a reminder not to take things too seriously and a nod to DIY work ethic. For what it’s worth I’m trying really hard to be the “Rock Star” of Tabletop Gaming.
My name…is… Khan. No just kidding. I’ll leave my real name out of this to stop the inevitable influx of attractive ladies from banging down my door.
So how is Canada, seriously?
Pretty decent. The weather is a little unpredictable. I stay inside most of the time running the business side of Drinking Quest so there are probably better people to ask.
You’ve had a booth at Gencon the past few years, how is that working out for you and DQ?
Absolutely amazing! I’ve met a lot of great people there and it’s a pretty painless road trip. I’ve gone through a lot of copies at Gencon in the last few years. Tabletop gamers are a crazy crowd; don’t let anyone tell you differently.
That’s hard to define. I hesitate to call it a one-man show because I’m working with a lot of great artists, distribution companies and other interesting folks. I have an Operations Management background, which makes me a very big “see all ends” kind of thinker. I had a vision of what Drinking Quest would be and how to go about getting it out there so I’ve worked with many freelancers along the way to make that vision a reality. Usually people do their part and then go on to other jobs.
I have a regular customer service rep named Steve who does a lot of the tedious stuff. (Thanks Steve!) The trajectory it’s going I’ll probably have more regular people soon, there’s a lot of stuff coming from Jason Anarchy in 2014. I really enjoy being independent and running the business in a fun way. The workweeks are 80 hours but I get to choose WHICH 80 hours.
Drinking Quest: The Original Drinking RPG
- Weezer’s blue album – As a first album / game it announces what Weezer / Drinking Quest is.Drinking Quest 2: Yeddy Vedder’s Yeti Adventure
- Rise Against: Revolutions per minute – The follow up is more polishedDrinking Quest 3: Nectar of the Gods
- MxPx: Life in General – By the time you get to the third album / game you’re really in your comfort zone. Also DQ3 has a God theme and MxPx is a Christian band so there’s that.
Do all of these references to DQ continually make you want to go get some ice cream?
Constantly, I don’t know how my biceps remain so huge and intimidating.
Were you too canadian to understand that joke? I want ice cream…:(
We have Dairy Queen here. I go for the Banana Split because there’s a healthy banana in there. Alleviates the guilt.
What’s your favorite beer? Your favorite mixed drink?
Honestly I’m pretty open and I usually just like trying new things every time. I like (but don’t often drink) the expensive beers like Kronenbourg or Heineken. I’m usually a whiskey guy. Bushmills and Jim Beam are two of my go-to whiskies. On the rocks or mixed with super manly diet Ginger Ale.
Are you a beer snob?
No. If it’s beer I’ll drink it.
Hmmm, yes legally.After everyone had fallen asleep at a bachelor party, a friend went off and got a huge tattoo of a panther on his chest. That was pretty cool. (No prior tattoos)
This sounds like Bioshock to me and I think all of the crazy ideas from that games should come true in real life.
How did you manage to somehow make DQ easy enough to play while drunk, but not so complicated that people hate it?
When designing the mechanics, finding this balance was everything. The end result is a game that is very much like Mario Kart at its core. There is a bit of strategy but there is also a ton of randomness to keep things fairly even and exciting between the players.
Questions of “What is fun?” and “What can drunk people really be trusted to remember?” and “What were the most important RPG elements to include” were common. There is 5 minutes of initial set up but after that the cards act as the GM and run the game. It had to be the perfect mix of Traditional Tabletop RPG and Drinking Game.
I think it pushes comedy tabletop games forward, so if you’re looking for something that’s funny in a way that tabletop games usually aren’t funny then I think it could work as a humour RPG. I get a lot of people who never intend to play but buy the PDFs from Paizo and just want to soak up the ridiculous story. I understand that, it can be pretty difficult to get a group of adults together.If a player or two isn’t drinking, that’s OK the game was designed around that and offer substitutes.
How do you feel about other games that were influenced by Drinking Quest?
It is flattering that people enjoy the series and want to make their own version. I just hope other games in the sub-genre bring something new to the table and aren’t obvious knockoffs. When I came out with Drinking Quest: The Original Drinking RPG I knew I was creating the genre of “Drinking RPG”. That’s why it was called “The Original Drinking RPG”
Knowing that other people would probably try and replicate the idea, I made sure that beyond the “RPG meets Drinking” gimmick there were a lot of elements that connected with players. What constitutes a Drinking Quest game? I actually have a really complicated formula on a huge sheet of paper of the subtle things that go into it. A “Colonel’s secret recipe” if you will.
Drinking Quest will always be the first, funniest and most punk rock.
When not playing DQ, making DQ, or being punk as fuck – what is your go to RPG?
Currently I’m playing Pathfinder as a Bard-Druid named Skinny Mike. I’ve been the DM nearly my whole life and it’s been a long time since I’ve been a player. I don’t get to go out much but when I do I have a blast being the wild card of the group and making my GM angry by not taking it seriously.
Are you into board games? Name some of your favorites. If not, this message will self destruct because you’re a jerk.
*Disarms self destruct sequence* Some of my other all time favourite games are:
- Milton Bradley’s Hero Quest
- Lord of the Rings Risk (Trilogy Edition)
- Fireball Island
- And more recently Quarriors
Who would win in a fight, Chuglox or Baby Cakes?
Wow…that video was beautiful.
In a fight? Chuglox would win. He’s a barbarian and he’s drunk. Also he’s aggressive because deep down he’s got a heart of gold and his rough exterior is just a front so people don’t see the real Chuglox. That’s the most dangerous kind of aggressive.
Tell me, if you had a wombat, what would you do with it?
Train it in customer service so I could fire Steve.
What’s next for DQ and where can we buy it?
Next year I have three big projects coming out that I’m still fairly secretive on:
- One is a game that is not Drinking Quest 4
- Another is a Drinking Quest project that is not a game
- And another is a game that has absolutely nothing to do with drinking
All will be comedy projects. Comedy is my comfort zone. As for buying any of the three Drinking Quest games, you can get them directly from www.DrinkingQuest.com or if they’re not already available at your comic or gaming shop then they can be easily ordered in through their distributor.
Thanks Jerry! You conduct a fun interview. As for parting words of wisdom: If you see me at a con and want to arm wrestle, DON’T BE SCARED! It’s better that you tried and lost than never tried at all.
*Chugs a beer / fades away into mosh pit*