By Jef Rietsma
Collector? Ken Franklin
Collection? Board games
How did your collection begin? I’d have to preface my answer by saying I always loved TV game shows and I learned to read at an early age, so I became enamored with games from the time I was pretty young. The first game I remember was something my parents bought me, it was a 52-game chest. It was a little box game with lots of little pieces and rules to 52 different games. Most weren’t very fun but it included checkers, chess and so on. I loved to make up new games with those pieces. That’s what set me off, and I started collecting games, making games, writing them on notebook paper when I was bored in school. And I’ve done that all my life.
Did your ideas lead to development of any actual games? I designed a few computer games when the Apple II computer came out in 1980. I sold some shareware games when they came out in the early ‘90s. Calliope Games, a family game company, eventually signed me to a contract. Through research and development, “The Mansky Caper” became the first published game that I designed. The game “Imagineers” followed, then “Tsuro: Phoenix Rising.” “Back to the Future – Dice Through Time” was next.
How big is the game industry? The table-top board game industry is a $5 billion-a-year industry and there are 3,000 new games being published (put on store shelves) every year. For every one of those 3,000 that make it to a store shelf, there are 20 being pitched to designers.
How many games do you own? About 325.
Why do board games appeal to you? I enjoy the interaction with people. It’s a way to exhibit friendship, it’s a way to make new friends and interact with each other.
What games did you enjoy as a youngster? I didn’t have one in particular. I enjoyed a great variety. When I was 11, I learned about a guy named Sid Sackson, who was a game designer. He developed what are called bookshelf games and I started collecting them once I discovered them.
With a few exceptions, a lot of the games you own aren’t games most people would recognize. One of the things I enjoy about bringing people here for game night is I open their eyes to the fact that there are a lot of games that you don’t know about that are a lot of fun.
What’s an example? Double Double Dominoes. It’s a cross between Dominoes and Scrabble.
Footnotes: Franklin, 65, lives on South 27th Street. He retired after a 25-year career in the Army. He would go on to be affiliated with Dr. David Schriemer at Family Doctors of Vicksburg. For many years until COVID-19, Franklin hosted an every-other-week game night. He has issued a standing invitation for anyone to attend once it is safe to resume. For more information, check out “Franklin Farms Game Nights” on Facebook. “We want people to feel that they are at a place where they are welcome, where they are included, where they are valued and where their joy is important to everybody else,” Franklin said.