GTG Celebrates National Paranormal Day!

Maggie's picture

This blog post was co-authored by Jennifer Closson, Greater Than Games Creative Director, and Maggie Clayton, Greater Than Games Social Media Manager. All photos included were taken by GTG employees, or Rather Dashing Games. 

 

Did you know that May 3rd is National Paranormal Day? Neither did we until Maggie did some super sleuthing online and found some great, new days for us to celebrate with you - our lovely fans! Previously, we had giveaways for National Beer Day and Pi Day. And today we celebrated May The Fourth! But for National Paranormal Day we wanted to give you a real treat with an interview from the Co-Founders of Rather Dashing Games, Mike Richie and Grant Wilson. Why these two people on this particular day? Because, not only do they have TWO spook-tacular titles in their game library sure to thrill ghost hunters everywhere, but Grant is an accomplished Paranormal Investigator. You may recognize him from the hit TV Show, Ghost Hunters, that aired on Syfy for 10 seasons.

 

Check out their interview and bios below. For those seeking to learn more about the paranormal, we got some useful tips and tricks of the trade from Grant in PART I of our interview. And for those hoping to join the gaming community from the business side, be sure to read PART II where Mike shares some insight into being a game designer.

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PART I: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION

An Interview with Grant

 

Q)  How long have you been a paranormal investigator? Did your interests begin long before the SyFy show, Ghost Hunters?

A) I’ve been investigating the paranormal since I was 15 years old. I don’t really want to say what that equates to in years of experience, but, heck, why not. I’m nearly 44 now, so that’s 29 years that I’ve been doing it.


Q)  Would you say that you are a true believer, a skeptic, or an open minded individual searching for truth of the paranormal world?

A) I have had way more than my share of paranormal experiences. Something weird is definitely going on. I’m what I would call a beleptic, a bit of both. I have experienced far too much for my logical mind to not be a believer, but, I remain solidly skeptical. Just because I have reason to believe, doesn’t mean I believe everything that comes my way. Far from it. People who know me know that, while I am open-minded, I am very harsh on evidence and experiences. I want to make sure I have exhausted all of my real-world knowledge before saying “I don’t know”. Even then, it’s usually, “I don’t know, yet”.


Q)  What advice would you give to those new to paranormal investigation?

A) I would say, first off, solidify your goals. Are you a “ghost hunter” or a “paranormal investigator”? They aren’t the same thing, and one isn’t better than the other. They just have different goals. Do you want to go to publically accessible places with equipment and simply try to have an experience? Do you want to capture evidence for evidence’s sake? Then you’re most likely a ghost hunter. Do you want to help people feel comfortable in their homes and truly roll up your sleeves to find answers so that you can help other people find peace of mind and comfort? Then you’re most likely a paranormal investigator. I say this because if you focus on the wrong goal, you’ll burn out quickly. Also, take everything you see, read, and hear with a huge grain of salt. There aren’t any experts in this field, just people with more experience. Oh, and, I never charged anyone to investigate in their homes. It’s basically a hobby... an expensive hobby. So, go to school for something that will put a roof over your head and food on the table, but can also be used for investigating. I don’t recommend trying to make a career out of it.


Q)  When attempting to connect or contact a spirit, what types of questions would you suggest people ask?  Are there topics or questions that should be avoided?

A) People have this odd tendency to focus on morbid things such as the entity’s death. I always train people to remember that they are talking with a human. So keep it friendly, light, and fun. It’s ok to laugh and joke when speaking to an entity. It’s just human nature. Imagine you are writing a letter to a someone you haven’t met yet. What would you ask them? Share as much information with them as would like to receive from them.

I have noticed that whenever I have solid conversation, and I ask about death, God, or the afterlife, the conversation ends immediately. So, for the sake of keeping the conversation going, don’t talk about those things.


Q)  As a mixed group of believers, skeptics, and questioning individuals we want to ensure that we are respectful to paranormal investigators, such as yourself. We also want to be respectful to the departed. Is there a proper etiquette one should keep in mind when approaching paranormal investigations or conversations with believers?

A) Of course. When speaking with believers, don’t assume they are stupid. Just because you don’t have a reason to believe, doesn’t mean they don’t. You may not believe that my milk tastes sour until you’ve tasted it, if you catch my drift. But, it is ok to challenge their ideas. Many believers drink the kook-aid way too easily. Just do it suggestively, not condescendingly. Give them the feeling that you want to work together, not attack them and leave them in the dust. Some of the brightest minds are working hard to answer the mysteries of the paranormal and the universe.

Now when speaking with the departed, remember one simple thing. In theory, they are people too... they just don’t have a body, and they can’t communicate as easily. So, just ask yourself, how would you treat a living person? Good manners, respect, and positivity go a long way, and it’s a great place to start with the dead. Most people are good, but every once in a while you get a jerk. So, I deal with them accordingly. But I always ensure to clean up that mess before I leave.

Q)  In addition to being a paranormal investigator and board game artist, you are also a talented musician and consultant on many projects outside the board gaming community. Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to tell us about?

A) Thank you! I do. I am still investigating and constantly doing events where people can come and meet me,  pick my brain, and even investigate together. Those can be seen over at my facebook page (facebook.com/RealGrantWilson) on the events tab, or at SenterStageEvents.com

I have two solo piano albums out to date, but I am working on a third as well as a Christmas album. (https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/GrantWilson)

But my main focus has been my YouTube channel. (YouTube.com/TheGrantWilson) There you can catch my upbeat show “What The Fetch!?” where I talk about all things weird with a balance of open mindedness and tongue in cheek humor.



Q)  Grant, you are one of the two main faces behind Rather Dashing games - the other being Mike Richie. How did you transition from TV personality to working with Mike as a board game artist?

A) I’ve known Mike since I was 5 years old. My earliest memory was of him getting stung by a bee and I gave him my Heath bar to try to cheer him up. Mike is a very competent game designer and he had been doing so while I was filming. We sat around the fire one autumn night while he expressed some of his frustrations. He wanted to branch off on his own but he needed a bit of capital and an artist. As soon as the words came out of his mouth we both knew what we could do. So we started Rather Dashing Games.

I didn’t really transition though. I’m still doing it. While illustrating and helping develop the games, I continued to investigate and try to sell paranormal television show concepts that would take the viewers to the next level, open up their minds a bit. The response I kept getting was, “Your ideas are too smart for TV”. Frustrating! So, I decided to step off that path and start my own YouTube channel where I can talk about whatever I want, how I want, and when I want. It’s a great way to brain dump 29 years of paranormal investigation knowledge, all without the doom and gloom side that TV always wants to drill into our heads.

PART II: CREATING GAMES WITH RATHER DASHING

An interview with Mike and Grant


Q)  Mike, Grant shared with us earlier how he became involved in the board game business. Can you now tell a little bit about your journey in the world of gaming. How did you start? When did you know you wanted to open your own company?

A) I've been playing and modifying games since I was a kid. It didn't occur to me till I was in my late twenties that I could make money using my talents. I had some pretty cool designs and I was afforded an opportunity to pitch them at New York Toy Fair. Long story short, I signed a design and then became a freelancer and consultant. I did that for several years before I really decided to start a company. I was lamenting to Grant about how I really wanted to pursue my own concept for a company and we both had a V8 moment realizing we should pool our talents and resources. Rather Dashing was born.

Q)  Mike, you work mostly on game design and mechanics. What's your process like when beginning a new game design?

A) I get asked this a lot and I still don't really have a good answer. Sometimes theme comes first, sometimes mechanics. At any given time, I have bits of mechanics floating around in my head that I'm always working on in the background. Eventually, inspiration hits and the pieces begin to come together. Then it's about writing it out as a concept and staring, tweaking, then staring some more.

Q)  As a follow up, do you have any particular game mechanics that you find to be your favorites to design with? What about your favorite game styles to play?

A) Well I love abstracts and I love crafting, both of these I've worked quite a bit in. Right now I'm looking to push those boundaries. I like using relatively minimal amounts of mechanics and allowing the players to have a wide variety of choices within the parameters of the game. I feel like a lot of games on the market could be streamlined and still offer the same play experience. That's what I strive for.

Q)  Mike, In addition to crafting board games, you and Grant have also written a book and you are an accomplished martial artists. How do you find time to balance all of these projects?

A) Some days I don't! Our book is a lot of fun and it's a challenge to find time to write in addition to working on all the games. Combine that with being a full time Husband and Father and the hours really evaporate fast. As for martial arts, I'd hardly call myself accomplished I studied for many years living in Rhode Island under an amazing Sensei. Since I've moved to Kentucky, I haven't found a dojo nearly the same caliber, so I continue to practice on my own.

Q)  What advice can you both give to those just starting in the gaming world as artists or designers?

A) MIKE: It's a great industry and I hope I'm part of it forever. That said, it is difficult to stand out and make a career out of it. Don't give up on it, but also don't pass up legitimate bill paying opportunities along the way. Crossroads in life are seldom marked, and you never know where following opportunity will lead to and help your passion develop and mature.

 

A) GRANT: As an artist, there is SO much room for amazing art in the gaming industry. I constantly push my artist friends to break into industry. Drawing for board games is a blast, and you can really make a name for yourself there.

As a game designer, don’t start your own company. I mean, that’s what I did, but it seriously detracts from the creative process. I would suggest creating at least three games of different kinds and then pitching them together. This is a great time saver and allows you to basically stand in front of your potential buyer with an assortment of chocolates instead of hoping they like the only one you brought with you. And test play the heck out of your games. You’ll feel like your game is the best game out there, and it may be, but if you only play it with mom, you’ll never know how fun it truly is.

 

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The “Ghost Gang” here at GTG took some of Grant’s advice on the road Thursday night as we embarked on our very own ghost hunt. We took to Twitter to try to share our ghostly experience after live streaming an epic game of Fate of the Elder Gods, where Maggie took on teammates Mara and Matt, and Jenn and Rae! Check out the game play here.  

Our ghust hunting adventure led us to Alton, IL where we stopped at two locations: The Alton Military Prison, and McPike Mansion. Altion in general is considered to be America's most haunted small town, and it was no easy task gaining that name. It is home to 9 haunted areas, including the 2 we visited. It has played host to numerous ghost hunting excurersions, and has been featured on both the Scyfy and Travel Channel for its grim past. 

 

 


 

Alton Military Prison, above, is now a series of crumbling stone walls aged by time, and neglect. According to the Madison County Historical Society Alton Military Prison was the first state penitentiary opening its doors in 1833, and then closing them in 1857 due to overcrowding. It was reopened 1862 during the American Civil War to accomdate the rapidly growing number of Confederate prisoners of war. It was home to more than 11,000 prisoners, and was known to have a high fatality with regular outbreaks of smallbox and rubella. More than 1,500 Confederate prisoners, Union soliders and civilians are recorded to have died there during the 3 years it was open, 1862-1865. 

 

 McPike Mansion, above, was built in 1869 at the highest point in Alton, and has been unoccupied since the 1950's. It remains beautifully lit, and mostly in tact serving up hundred of ghost tours per year. The Mansion has been known for paranormal occurences, and spooky photos, such as unexplainable orbs of light, and human-shaped outline in the unoccupied windows of the house. We ventured there, and took several photos. No orbs appeared, but the Mansion is ominous and creepy regardless.

 

While you continue celebrating Paranormal Day - or any day you’re looking to have a spooky good time - be sure to check out Graveyards, Ghosts, and Haunted Houses as well as Wakening Lair from Rather Dashing Games. If raising Elder Gods are more your style, check out Fate of the Elder Gods from Greater Than Games. Also, be sure to stop by either of our booths and say “hi” any chance you get at a convention. We love meeting the community!

 

SPOOKY SECRET: Some of the members of GTG are believers, some are skeptics, and some are beleptic (to use Grant’s term).Lucky for us our city comes with a, potentially haunted past. St Charles, a historic town just outside St Louis, had its 15 minutes (well 60 minutes to be more precise) of fame when it was featured in season 10, episode 4 of Ghost Hunters. Check out the details of the episode with pictures on SyFy’s website!

 

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MICHAEL RICHIE, Game Designer & Co-Founder of Rather Dashing Games

Mike considers himself a lifetime geek and has been playing games as long as he can remember. In addition to designing for Rather Dashing Games, he has several successful games to date published with other companies. When not designing games, Mike enjoys travel, camping, biking, martial arts, reading, cooking, writing, studying ancient history, and obviously, playing games.

 

GRANT WILSON, Art Director  & Co-Founder of Rather Dashing Games, Paranormal Investigator

Grant grew up a goofball constantly in a state of creativity. He has been drawing and composing music since he was almost too young to start. When he wasn’t doing those things, he was bruising himself up hiking, biking, camping, and playing soccer. Now that he has finally grown up, he’s added more to that list including cooking, writing, ghost hunting, playing with his band, and pretending he isn’t 12. Grant is the primary artist for Rather Dashing. You may also know Grant from the long-running hit SyFy show Ghost Hunters. He co-founded TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) and has produced Ghost Hunters on the Syfy Channel as well as Ghost Hunters International. He is continuing to help people cope with the paranormal privately.