Fry Thief: Product Manager Patrick Rauland on Game Design

What often make board games interesting is that we designers come from different professions. One doesn’t go to school to learn how to make board games (or are there board game schools?). As such, we come from many different backgrounds and bring with us different experiences that in turn shape how and what we create.

Enter Patrick Rauland, a product manager and online educator. What experience does he bring and how did it shape his game, Fry Thief? Keep reading to find out!

Fry Thief

Status: Funded

Game Description

Fry Thief is a game about poor life choices. We’ve all had that experience where you don’t order fries and your friend does. This is a game about that moment you decide to steal “just a few” fries.

Whats your background and how did it help in creating the game?

I’ve been a Product Manager and I’m now I’m an online educator. I’m good at understanding complex patterns & interactions and pulling some meaning out of them.

How did being a Product Manager help with being a game designer?

The biggest thing is being able to listen to people and understand the core of what they’re saying. People like to make suggestions like “have you thought about adding cards for X?”. And solutions like that are helpful. But your job as a designer is to listen to their solutions and logically go back to the problem they experienced. If you can name them problem then you can start coming up with solutions for it. The trickiest thing is nailing down the problem.

Listen to people’s solutions so you can find the underlying problem.

Is there such a thing as product market fit in game design?

Of course! There’s a product/market fit for every product. If I made Fry Thief a 5 hour euro game it wouldn’t work. Similarly if I made a game about stealing resources (essentially what Fry Thief is) without that theme I would have lost a lot of casual gamers.

I heard from a lot of game designers “My spouse/kids/friend would love this game and they don’t normally like games”. That was my market for this game. A game for very casual gamers.

What is the process you follow to brainstorm and create games?

It’s a long process. But one of the most important parts is creating your game and getting it to the table. If there’s a game design group near you make sure you go to every meeting! I typically go ~2 times a month as long as I’m not out of town. I bring a new prototype to every meeting. Even if you think you’re good to go maybe try a crazy variation just to see what happens.

I have no idea how things work until I see them on the table. So the local designer group is my most important resource.

Can the lean start up philosophy be applied in board game design?

Absolutely! My first prototype was index cards. And ripped up pieces of paper which represented the fries. I didn’t even have markers for ketchup. Feel free to try your game on index cards or even try just a part of a game.

A few months ago I played with non-transitive dice and basically brought a bidding mechanism and we tested that to see if that would be fun to add into another game. Even that playtest was useful just to test that mechanic.

How do you conduct your play test?

I like playing in my playtests early on. I want to know what the players are feeling. But the more play tests I do the more I want to just watch. I pick up subtle information watching my playtesters that I might miss if I was playing but I have to know what the game feels like before I step out.


With Patrick, a product manager and online educator we got a cool game with so many considerations taken into account. Does that mean more is better? What happens if we combine the skills and mindset of people from even more professions? Might want to check out Chicken Heist as we come from 4 different professions!

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