Make Agile Fun Again with Release!: An Interview with Alex Papadimoulis

[interview]
Summary:

Alex Papadimoulis, the creator of Release!, an agile-based card game, sat down to talk about how gaming can strengthen a company's work culture and bring teams together, how Release! features industry practitioners and thought leaders, and the best conference swag he has ever gotten. 

 

Alex Papadimoulis, the creator of Release!, an agile based card game, sat down to talk about how gaming can strengthen a company's work culture and bring teams together, how Release! features industry practitioners and thought leaders, and the best conference swag he has ever gotten. 

 

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Today we have Alex Papadimoulis, and he'll be speaking to us today about his new game. Alex, can you start us off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Alex Papadimoulis: Yeah, sure. My background is in software development. Been developing software for as long as I can remember. It's fifteen years or so. Founded the company Inedo, that's what my day job is these days, but gaming has always been a hobby of mine which is what inspired us to make this game.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: You're a huge advocate of gaming bringing teams together so when we are talking about gaming, are we talking about board games like Settlers of Catan, or are we talking video games like MMORPGs? What are we talking about here?

Alex Papadimoulis: I think board games are where it's at. To clarify gaming, I should say I'm more of a board game, card game, those sorts of things. Video games, they might work, but they're usually focusing on a computer instead of person to person interaction. I think what's so great about board games is it brings folks literally together. To the same table, looking at the same thing.

Some games can be lightly competitive, some of them are what you would call a little bit of group solitaire. Other ones can be even cooperative too. Depending on the dynamics of the team, you have a whole bunch of variety of games available to bring them together. What is does, I found it helps people see how others think. You mentioned Settlers of Catan, it shows how they start thinking about resource allocation and management. It shows how they interact with trading and things like that. Ultimately, when you know how people work together, you can work more effectively with them.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: You think it's very important to company culture?

Alex Papadimoulis: Yeah, I think it's a pretty important aspect. I know for larger organizations, you know, the banks, the classic big corporate places, it's hard to pull that off. At lunch breaks, why not have a board game or two at a spare conference room? I think it's a great part of company culture.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: You don't see big banking firms playing Monopoly at lunch?

Alex Papadimoulis: Oh, that would be a really long lunch.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Yeah.

Alex Papadimoulis: Actually you would be surprised even at those big cultures what you can do with just small changes. Honestly, bring a card game in. If you have a cafeteria, usually the big banks do, pull it out in the cafeteria and you'll start finding people will be interested in what you'll do. You'll make new friends, and from a work standpoint, that's networking. You are meeting more people.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Absolutely. Is there a particular game that's really popular at Inedo?

Alex Papadimoulis: We do a bunch of them and we're always rotating the different games. Right now our current fun one is The Pandemic Expansion. That one is a cooperative play, but we do, gosh, so many of them. Stone Age is another really fun one. One that I was making fun of for a very long time because the theme is preposterous. The theme of the game is the 700 year old Bavarian glass making tradition, called Glass Road. Sounds terrible, actually it's a very fun game. We do a variety of games like that.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: You created a game. What led you to creating this game, and really not only thinking of the idea, but then going through and creating The Kickstarter and getting it funded?

Alex Papadimoulis: It's always been something I've wanted to do. Making games, start a game, and been tossing for years different ideas of how to make it happen. Then Kickstarter came out, and you see a lot of people successfully making games, and I thought, this is a good opportunity to just put something out there, see what happens, and how it turns out. It actually worked out pretty well.

About the author

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds's picture Cameron Philipp-Edmonds

When not working on his theory of time travel, Cameron T. Philipp-Edmonds is writing for TechWell, StickyMinds, and AgileConnection. With a background in advertising and marketing, Cameron is partial to the ways that technology can enhance a company's brand equity. In his personal life, Cameron enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic dinners by candlelight, and playing practical jokes on his coworkers.

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