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Game publisher Martin Ralya invents a new gamer holiday

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I recently interviewed Martin Ralya about the announcement of a new gamer holiday, New Game Day. A father, husband, writer, small-press publisher, former RPG industry freelancer, and lifelong geek, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. He lives in Utah with his wife and daughter in a house full of books and games.

Michael Tresca (MT): What is New Game Day all about?

Martin Ralya (MR): New Game Day (http://www.newgameday.com) is a free annual event for tabletop gamers worldwide — a day to celebrate tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs) and board games by playing something you’ve never played before.

My hope is that on 2/2 every year folks will take some time to play one or more new games, support the folks who design and sell those games, and share their love of games with others.

MT: Tell us a little about how your companies are supporting New Game Day.

MR: Gnome Stew (http://www.gnomestew.com) and Engine Publishing (http://www.enginepublishing.com) are providing over $300 in prize support through a giveaway on Gnome Stew: http://www.gnomestew.com/gnome-gnews/new-game-day-is-february-2-and-were-giving-away-300-in-prizes/

The giveaway will open 2/1 and stay open until 2/3 (to account for time zone differences), and all folks need to do be entered to win is drop by the giveaway thread (not the link I provided; that's just the announcement) when it goes live and tell us about what they did for New Game Day.

MT: There are a growing number of tabletop-gaming related days: Read an RPG Book in Public, GM'S Day, Free RPG Day, Tabletop Day. How does New Game Day differ?

MR: I love all of these gamer holidays for different reasons. New Game Day was created in much the same spirit, but its focus is unique among gamer holidays: It's an event specifically dedicated to playing games you've never played before.

“New” doesn’t have to mean brand new, just new to you. If you already play new games regularly, you can always make this a challenge: If you’re primarily a roleplayer, try a board game. If you mainly play board games, try an RPG. And if you already do both, try a game outside your comfort zone or try to see how many new games you can play on 2/2.

MT: Many of the aforementioned game-focused days take place in March. Why February for New Game Day?

MR: Partly because "New on 2/2" had a nice ring to it (and is an easy way to remember when New Game Day takes place every year), but also because February -- at least the early part -- still feels like the new year. The start of the year is a time for new projects, new directions, and experimentation, all of which are part of what New Game Day is about.

MT: You realize that 2/2 is Groundhog Day, right?

MR: Yep, I thought about this and decided it wasn't a big deal. Many folks don't celebrate Groundhog Day, and even those who day presumably aren't doing groundhog dances from sunup to sundown -- there's time for both!

MT: You realize that 2/2 is Groundhog Day, right (see what I did there)?

MR: "This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather." -- Bill Murray, Groundhog Day (one of my favorite movies, incidentally!)

MT: How are you spreading the word?

MR: In addition to creating the New Game Day website itself, I've reached out to folks I thought might be interested in writing about New Game Day, posted about it on Gnome Stew, promoted it on Google+ and Twitter, and talked about it on RPGGeek. I'll keep banging the drum as 2/2 approaches, too!

MT: How can gamers participate?

MR: New Game Day is free and decentralized: To participate, just play a tabletop RPG or board game you've never played before on 2/2, and, if you like, talk about your experience. You can host an event at home or in your local store, or just get together with your usual gaming group and try something new. There's no wrong way to go about it.

It would also be great if gamers would look at New Game Day as a reason to drop by their local retailer, or spend some money with their favorite online store, to support the folks who create, publish, and sell the games we play.

MT: Anything else you'd like to add?

MR: Thank you for letting me talk about New Game Day! I don't know if it's possible to will a holiday into existence, but that's basically what I'm trying to do here. When the idea came to me, it wouldn't let go until I'd seen it through. I hope that New Game Day catches on with gamers worldwide -- that's my goal. Happy gaming!

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