I'm Judson Cowan, and I have a short attention span
For some people, that's a bug. For a solo board game designer, it's a feature. I like getting my hands into as many pies as possible and have always sought new ways to express my creativity. Whether it's composing for video games, illustrating for publications, producing my own posters, or designing board games - I need a lot of outlets for the endless stream of demons swirling around in my head. And the world of board games has no shortage of different things I can bounce between to keep my mind occupied.
I've been a big gamer all my life and when I waded into the world of game design, I was thrilled with how many facets were involved in the role and how many hats I get to wear in the process of designing, developing, producing and marketing my games. Imagine you found a job that required a dozen skills working in concert – and you're already good at all of them. It's like discovering you're good at digging and immediately striking gold. You can learn more about how I got into board game design and how it aligned with my skills in this talk.
Before I stepped foot in this world, I spent a few decades working in advertising as a designer and eventually creative director. You remember Conan O'Brien? I designed his blimp. I spent a long time in-house as a creative director and manager, collaborating with dozens of agencies.
At the same time, I was moonlighting as a musician and illustrator. I did music for Cartoon Network, Penny Arcade, and most recently Rogue Legacy 2. I still fire up the old Ableton Live from time to time, if only to write jingles for my games. I also did a wildly popular poster of the game Dark Souls, which made a huge splash on Reddit and is now officially licensed and still selling well to this day. Then I did a SECOND wildly popular map of Dark Souls for Tune & Fairweather's Abyssal Archive release.
Beyond my career, I'm a huge gamer (video, board, TT) and a huge horror fan - which you might have guessed from the games I make. You can hear me talk endlessly about the design of horror film posters right here.
About Tettix Games
As a company, there are a few key tenets that underline everything I make.
- Beauty is paramount. I'm a designer and artist and I'm visually oriented, so aesthetics are massively important to me. I routinely spend way too much time on the art and design of my games.
- Fun is ALSO paramount. I think all games deserve to be beautiful AND fun and I think often they tend to skew one way or the other. I want to make them both.
- Fueled by passion. I only make games that I want to play and that are an extension of my personality. I tend to start with theme, because it's the personality of the game, and build out the mechanics to make the theme fun to play around. And 90% of the time they're going to be creepy.
- Accessible and affordable. I'm out here trying to make games that are accessible to as wide an audience as possible. I'm trying to keep costs down, and I'm keeping accessibility in mind. My hope is that anyone can afford Tettix games and that players of all abilities are able to play them.
- Inclusivity isn't optional. Let's be honest here: I'm a staff of one white, American cis man but I want to still be an ally however I can. In my previous roles, I've been passionate about DEI initiatives, gotten involved with working groups, and encouraged others to do the same. I'm also a huge advocated for mental health awareness (I live with depression and anxiety) and have given a lot of talks and written a lot of blogs to help others deal with their own struggles. I'm trying to figure out how I still make a difference and act as an ally while operating in isolation from my house. That might be representation in the artwork in my games, or in the reviewers and publishers I choose to work with. Get in touch if you have ideas!
What's the name about?
Tettix is ancient greek for "cicada", those noisy insects that howl in the summer. I always loved them growing up and when I originally formed my band, I took the name Cicada. But some other Cicada band beat me to fame, so I changed it to Tettix because it's enigmatic, brief, and kind of sounds like Tetris. So when I started a games company, I just kept the same branding. It's all from the same mind, after all.