Following the North Star
From board game photography to scuba diving, get to know our new marketing manager Ross! August 05 2021, 0 Comments
Dominic - You might have noticed a few little changes beginning to occur around our social media and website. We've got big plans for the future so I’m very excited about our new hire, Ross Connell, who joins the NorthStar team as our Community and Marketing manager. His passion for board games, photography, and community led him to create a popular website (www.MoreGamesPlease.com) that brings attention to the artists and graphic designers behind the board games we love.
He has also been hired to photograph games like Root, Kingdomino, Isle of Cats, The Mind, Ticket to Ride and many others. With a degree in film, an eye for beauty, and a passion for interacting with the community, Ross is going to help our company through the transition I talked about in our previous blog post. Let’s get to know him better!
Hi Ross, could you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
Hi folks! Unlike NorthStar I’m not actually based in the US but live in England about 2 hours north of London. As well as working at North Star I run a freelance photography business, and a website called More Games Please that now has over 20k followers on social media.
It’s been a fun challenge to juggle these side projects around a day job and I’m largely driven by a fascination with the industry mixed with a love of community.
I grew up running around an idyllic little village in the countryside with no shops and more sheep than people! The above photo was taken about 20 minutes from my childhood home where my parents still live in a part of England called the Lake District.
When it comes to board games, I consider myself an omnigamer as I love trying a little bit of everything. This is also my philosophy for life and I have a love of new experiences.
What first got you into games?
When I was young my mother and grandmother always seemed to have a game or puzzle within arms reach. It was just a normal part of life. I’ve also got two older sisters, who were more than happy to play games with me, mainly because I was younger and much easier to beat!
We played all the classics, like Chess, Yahtzee, Clue, Monopoly, Rummy and more. We’ve actually still got my mothers original 1950s/60s edition of Cluedo (Clue) at home and I love that I can get nostalgic about my childhood gaming, in the same way that my mother can by looking at this one game box.
What made you go from playing games to posting about them online?
My friends enjoyed playing games, but I was thinking about them all the time. I started my Instagram account MoreGamesPlease just to find more people who shared my enthusiasm. I didn’t have a regular game group back then, so social media made me feel connected to the community in a way I didn’t really realise I was searching for at the time.
These days I mainly post the board games I’m playing but sometimes I get to post cool photos like this one in Carcassonne, a popular board game based on a gorgeous medieval citadel in France.
Speaking of art, you created a website focused on the art in board games.
I started my site because although there were countless articles about game design, previews and reviews there were no real spaces focusing on the art in games. I thought this work deserved more attention and looked to build a cultural archive to share artists' stories. The site features interviews with over 50 of the best creatives in the industry, and I’ve hosted public votes on the best art of the year which thousands of people have participated in.
Sometimes illustrators email me to let me know about new projects they’ve got because of being featured on my site, or even ask if they can add me into their game.. thanks Andrew Bosley! (Everdell, Tapestry, Citadels). Since my site launched I’ve seen a real sea change in how much attention is given to artists in the industry, and although I can’t claim credit for that I’m glad I helped to throw a spotlight on their work in some small way.
You mentioned you’re a freelance board game photographer, how did you get started?
I was contacted by Osprey Games to see if I was interested in photography work. At that time my day job was at a university, so I had to weigh up if I could fit this into my week. I’m glad I did, as I’ve continued to work with Osprey (photographing titles like Wildlands, Undaunted and Merv) and a growing selection of publishers across the tabletop industry.
I've now photographed Kickstarter projects raising over $4 million, with my work appearing in social media campaigns, web stores and magazines. So much passion, talent and hard work goes into creating games it’s a pleasure to get to help show that.
Have you always collected your own board games?
I never really had my own collection until my late 20s. I was lucky enough to have friends who did and they constantly introduced me to games I had never seen or even heard of. It was an amazing experience and really opened my eyes to the hobby.
I spent a few years travelling and when I got back to England some of these friends had moved away so I decided to start my own collection. I currently have about 300 games, approximately as many as my small house can handle.
You’ve described yourself as an omnigamer, but what are you playing at the moment?
I usually host a weekly game night, but since it’s been harder to bring people together I’ve been re-examining my own collection. I previously only really played games with friends, but this past year I’ve jumped into solo gaming and have been loving it.
I’ve tried around 100 solo modes now and my favorites range from quick roll-and-writes like Ganz Schon Clever, to deeper experiences like Arkham Horror the Card Game. A while back I was thinking how I could share my game nights with others, and at the end of 2019 began streaming games on Twitch. I’m looking forward to hosting my game nights again in person and can’t wait to continue playing my Gloomhaven campaign with a friend.
What gave you the idea to stream board games on Twitch?
Asmodee invited me to be part of their live show during Essen Spiel 2019 and I had a blast. I realised it was something I wanted to do more often so I did some research and got the equipment I needed to get started. I didn’t really know what to expect but I’ve found the Twitch community to be incredibly supportive and I’ve made some amazing new friends because of it.
Since starting I’ve streamed during digital events like Spiel Digital and UK Games Expo Virtually Expo and it blows my mind that the Twitch community have collectively watched over 14,000 hours of conversation and play all from my dining room. Week after week, the same names are there in chat, and I enjoy their company and conversation as much as I hope they enjoy mine.
When did you first learn about North Star Games?
I’d played friends copies of both Evolution and then later Evolution Climate, which I loved. In my own collection I’ve got North Star published titles such as Happy Salmon, Quacks of Quedlinburg and Oceans, which is actually pretty reflective of my tastes in the hobby.
I got to meet Dominic (North Star Founder & Co-President) for the first time back in 2018 at a convention where I got to try a prototype of Team Wits and Wagers (Super Wits) and got to share a lot of laughs. I’ve always loved getting to see those sneak previews of upcoming titles, or catch a glimpse behind the curtain of development through playtesting. Now I’m at North Star I can’t wait to share more of these moments with you, starting with our next game Paint the Roses.
Finally, what’s a fun non-board game fact that people might not know about you?
This one is a bit Oceans board game adjacent, as I’ve been able to go diving in a number of countries, and have a PADI advanced open water certificate, which is a series of courses you can do to help better equip you for deeper and longer diving trips.
Highlights have been swimming with ocean life such as (reef) sharks, dodging jellyfish, seeing the calmness of sea turtles, heading through caves, sunken ships and more. I always knew there was a lot of life beneath the ocean's surface but the sheer amount I’ve been able to see has been absolutely breathtaking.
Ross is now in charge of our social media accounts, so if you’ve enjoyed this article be sure to follow us and post a comment online, he’d love to hear from you.
Press and content creators can now get in touch via this page.