International Women's Month - Mandy Goddard

Mandy Goddard is a talented designer and developer from Carmel, IN who has helped add beauty to our industry through her game Lotus. Today she chats with us about her experiences as part of our Women in Industry celebration! 

Hey Mandy! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! My name is Mandy Goddard, and I live in Carmel, IN with my husband, Jordan, and together, we design tabletop games. Our most recent release, Lotus, was published by Renegade Game Studios in 2016. 

How are you involved with the Board Game Industry? (and how did you get there)
I think it really started with my family; we've been playing games together for as long as I can remember. My brother, Todd (who now makes video games for a living), introduced Jordan and me to tabletop games such as Settlers of Catan and Smallworld several years ago.

At the same time, Jordan was looking for business opportunities that we could take on together, outside of our day jobs. We started an LLC for our first business where we hand-sewed custom fabric coffee sleeves for coffee shops to sell to customers as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the cardboard sleeves. That project gave us a chance to learn so much, including building a website with e-commerce, managing inventory, managing small-business finances, and most importantly, just working together as a husband-and-wife team.

As Jordan and I started spending most of our free time playing games, it was only natural to see if we could combine that interest into a business opportunity. We started experimenting with writing our own rules to games and brainstorming ideas to create one of our own. From that exercise, came our first game, Collapse, which we self-published through Kickstarter.

What do you do outside of gaming?
From a professional standpoint, I'm a PMP-certified Project Manager working at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I've been in Project Management roles for most of my career and really enjoy the combination of spreadsheets/reporting and collaborating with large teams.

From a personal standpoint, there isn't much time for more than gaming right now, between working on designing three new games and playing plenty of others in between. We are also expecting our first child in June, so we've been pretty focused on preparing for the baby recently. (It’s a girl!)

What are your favorite games?
My all-time favorite game is Uwe Rosenberg's Caverna. There is so much packed into this one box. I try different strategies every time I play and can't imagine ever getting tired of this one. It also helps that my husband has still never been able to beat me at Caverna, so I hold the undefeated title in our house! Other games at the top of my list right now are Splendor, Jamaica, and T.I.M.E.Stories.

I'm also a stickler for competitive word games, my favorites being Code Names and Catch Phrase. I love the team element and getting to test our wits when playing both of these.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry currently?
From a game designer's perspective, a challenge is the significant growth of the industry. Each year there are more games released than the last and there are countless new designers and new publishers entering the space. It's very exciting to be a part of it all, but at the same time, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of games released. It puts an added level of pressure on us to design something unique enough that it will stand out in the mix.

Where do you come up with your best ideas/designs?
I have to give a lot of that credit to my husband, Jordan. He tends to bring the initial ideas to the table - whether it's a fun theme we could explore, or a new mechanic he's testing - while I contribute more to refining the game's rules and ensuring there is balance across multiple game-plays. We joke that without him, we'd never start a project, but without me, we'd never finish one. 

That said, I am working on one idea that was my own from the start and I'm pretty excited about it. I took inspiration from my childhood and my love for books and I'm developing a fun new way to teach children to read through a series of card games.

Looking back at your career in gaming, what surprises you the most?
I'm also always so surprised at how amazing the people in the gaming industry are. It was incredibly intimidating walking into Gen Con for the first time and not knowing a single person. But over the last five years, we've made so many close friends as a result of our experiences designing games, including other designers, game reviewers, publishers, and the huge network of gamers who make it all possible. It's so cool to get to work with people who share our passion for bringing exciting new gaming experiences to the world.

Where can fans connect with you? 
You can connect with us through or on Twitter @JordanAndMandy. OR if you have time tonight, stop by Family Time Gmaes north of Indianapolis for a fun event at our local game store to celebrate the first day of spring!