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It Took a While, but the Founders of Crafty Games’ Lifelong Love of Role-Playing Games Is Finally Paying Off

“When I was a kid in North Portland, we would role-play, but it was something you did in the basement of your parents’ house. You never let anybody find out.”

Founders: Alex Flagg and Patrick Kapera

Year launched: 2005

Game types: Card games, board games, role-playing games

Flagship game: Spycraft, an RPG where players hunt down secrets and vanquish threats using high-tech gadgets.

Even before the pandemic, Patrick Kapera and Alex Flagg were accustomed to working remotely. In fact, that's how they met over 15 years ago as independent game designers.

The two eventually broke away from their former employer to found Crafty Games—and took their flagship role-playing game, the espionage-inspired Spycraft, with them.

"We're kind of going through this role-playing game renaissance in the last five years," says Flagg, 43. "When I was a kid in North Portland, we would role-play, but it was something you did in the basement of your parents' house. You never let anybody find out."

Crafty Games has benefited from the shifting narrative surrounding RPGs. In 2012, the company partnered with Brandon Sanderson, author of the bestselling Mistborn series, to create a fantasy game based on his novels. Three years later, they started producing board games for other designers.

But with the coronavirus, Crafty Games can't rely on big conventions like GenCon to market its products and get its games in front of customers to sell them on the experience. So they've had to adjust, making digital versions of some games and creating a Discord channel so fans can meet for game nights on Zoom and Skype.

"With the next game we have coming out, we've been putting a lot of effort into making a solo version," Flagg says. "It's become a critical thing when pitching people to say, 'You can also play it by yourself if you want!' so people know they'll get to use their new game, even if they can't get together with people very often."

What game are you really into right now? "Lost Cities is a classic card game that's very abstract. It's just for two players and plays in about 15 to 20 minutes. My wife and I can play three times in a night."

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It Took a While, but the Founders of Crafty Games' Lifelong Love of Role-Playing Games Is Finally Paying Off

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