Interview with Vladimir Orellana – PR for Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
Vladimir Orellana, aka @seniorwatashi, is a member of the public relations team at AEG. With the most exciting entry into the board gaming industry I have heard, Vladimir’s passion for all things gaming knows no end. As a creator, I am privileged to be able to talk to Vlad on a regular basis. But his story and insights into being a member of the AEG team are truly inspirational. As such, I am very glad to say that he has agreed to share them with everyone. Read on to find out more, and to have a sneak peek into what AEG has in store for us over the next 18 months!
Vladimir, thank you so much for chatting with me today. You work in Public Relations for Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). How did you get into board gaming originally?
When I was a kid I suffered from a blood pressure disorder. At the time I lived with my grandparents and they spend their afternoons with me playing games so I would not try to go outside. Biking, running, jumping around was just too risky. We played Chess, Chinese checkers, chopsticks, and traditional cards during the afternoons as a reward for me doing my homework and house chores. My cousins brought copies of Risk and Monopoly to the house during the holidays and we played for hours. It was easy to fall in love with games.
How did you make the move from playing games to working into the board gaming industry?
At the time I was working on a video game studio. I had an idea to produce an app for one of AEG’s games. I was a huge fan of Legend of the Five Rings ( CCG from AEG) and decided that it was a good idea to talk with John Zinser about the project.
John said we would meet in Spain, so I bought a plane ticket using all my savings account plus money raised by selling some Magic The Gathering cards. I also had to rely on some credit card debt. But it was a success, and the rest is history! Best push your luck turn in my life!
Wow! That was a leap of faith! I’m glad to see the gamble paid off! So, if you can actually top your job application experience (!), what is the most exciting thing about working for AEG?
I love the social aspect of board gaming, I want to sit down at the tables and engage with new people and have fun together. I love the excitement of gaming, winning, losing, and the wonders of discovering more about myself and my mind through play. AEG is a huge door that lets me jump into this space and share it with people around the world. It is wonderful.
How has the pandemic affected a big publisher like AEG? Were you able to manage the logistical difficulties and retail effects?
Curiously, you think of us as a big publisher, I think John describes it best with “We are a big small publisher”.
A lot of our plans changed. Our convention scene disappeared and our retailer partners suffered from having their businesses close. Everyone had to adapt. Our digital team is located in Guatemala and some of them got sick with Covid. We dug in and helped each other.
Everyone around the world is still suffering from logistic problems, and we can’t see a solution any time soon. We will adapt , of course, but the world is changing and is not going back to what it used to be.
That’s a lovely way to conceptualise AEG. It sounds like a real team over there. So, what is it like being the contact between AEG and the creators making content for the games you publish?
It´s the eternal battle for Inbox 0! It´s fun until is not and then I need to walk, play a game, cook, enjoy the world around me and I can come back and continue with my work. When I open my computer and start reading, I like to jump around and visit Creators’ websites, Instagram profiles, Tik Tok accounts, Twitter profiles, twitch streams, and YouTube channels. It´s a huge community, and everyone is putting a part of themselves in it. You get absorbed into this world that is full of passion and joy. I´m just grateful for being part of it.
Well, I’m sorry for adding to your inbox problem, but I love our messages! ? What advice would you give somebody seeking to move into the board game industry?
Keep going. Even if you fail, push harder, work smarter. If a guy from Guatemala that can barely communicate in English managed to do it after 20 years, you have a chance.
What a positive attitude! Thank you for such a supportive reminder that anything is possible! Your talent has played a huge part in your success too, however! You currently live in Las Vegas, but you mentioned that you grew up in Guatemala. What is the board gaming scene like in both your adopted town, and where you grew up?
Vegas is the best city in the world to have fun. And board games are no exception. If you are looking for a dungeons and dragons game, a party to play Twilight Imperium or, if you are like me and like to travel with a Commander deck in your backpack, you’ll find it here. Just open Google maps and look up a store, go to FB group and find a local board game group. They will be ready to welcome you and give you a chance to play.
Guatemala is a small country, so we don´t have too much of anything, when I was growing up we had 1 board game store for the whole country ( 30 years ago?! Wow!). Now that has diversified of course. Not only do we have more stores, but stores have evolved into a more welcome place for every gamer. We are starting to see local designers for the first time, and a small creator scene has started to develop content for the community. I would admit that the worst part of playing board games in Guatemala is the humidity level. Mould is the worst!
Wow, Vegas really is a playground for board gamers, and much drier from the sounds of it! Do you have a big gaming group?
Yes, it´s called Victorious Party Pass (I know, it doesn´t make any sense). We have been playing since the late ’90s. And now we had expanded to include the children of the original group.
The next generation of gamers being supported and encouraged- I love that! Are you a competitive or co-operative gamer?
Both. More towards competitive.
What is your favourite mechanism in games?
Push your luck. Dice rolling.
I think luck is definitely with you! haha Ok, so what is your favourite game?
Magic: The Gathering.
Can you give us any sneaky advance information about anything happening at AEG?
Indeed I can……..I’ll let the timeline speak for itself!
Gosh, some very exciting future titles included in there! I think I want them all! Haha! Space Base is a favourite in our house so that is definitely one for us to watch!
One last question just for fun, if I may; if you could play a board game with anybody (real or fictional), who would it be, what game would you play, and (perhaps most important of all!) what snacks would you choose?
My family. I miss them so much. It doesn´t matter what game, I just wish to see them at the table and feel like a child again. I´ll cook, do the dishes, clean, I just miss them.
I really hope you get the chance to play some games with your family soon, Vlad (and I am sure they won’t make you do the chores!).
Thank you so much again for speaking to me, Vlad. It has been such a wonderful experience getting to know more about you and the big small publisher, AEG. I look forward to causing you lots more inbox overload problems in the future! Haha