OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) – Some black board game enthusiasts are hoping to bring more people of color into the world of gaming, and a local game designer is preparing to showcase his work in Target.

Marcus Ross loves board games and has made a few, but this one is bigger than the others.

“When you make a licensed game, you give people the moments they expect and then a few surprises,” Ross said.

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book game will debut in Target this Sunday.

“The eight chapters take me through the entire Lord of the Rings saga, from Frodo receiving the Ring in the Shire to its destruction in Mordor,” said Ross.

He has contributed to several chapters. It’s a cooperative game played like a book.

“Dissolve the Fellowship, then Helm’s Deep, and then the Finale. It’s actually quite a lot,” Ross said.

A lot of research went into the design of its chapters.

“There’s a difference between watching a movie for fun and then watching a movie for work. You have to replicate this for people,” Ross said.

Ross said that although he’s made four games, he doesn’t know many black game designers out there.

“I wouldn’t need all those fingers to pick out the notable ones,” Ross said.

Starla and Mik Fitch love games and started with their son.

“When we started having family game nights he was about 4 or 5 years old. We wanted to introduce him to board games so we could play together,” Starla Fitch said.

They soon encountered the same problem after attending board game conventions as a family.

“We would go in there with us and our son and there would be no children. They wouldn’t be people of color and very few would be women,” Starla Fitch said.

They wanted to introduce more people of color to the vast world of board games. That’s when they started Our Family Plays Games.

“I think if we knew there were more games than just Monopoly, we would play more. It’s just a pleasure. It’s a stress reliever, and we as people of color have enough stress in the world that I think we need to do it if we can find more things that are simple and can bring us joy and happiness,” Starla Fitch said.

The Fitches host Ross on their YouTube channel, Our Family Plays Games, in a series called OFPG Voices. They say it gives colored players a platform.

“We have a separate show called OFPG Voices where we bring in other underrepresented voices, designers, content creators and artists. They come in and talk about their experiences with the hobby and the games they love to play,” Starla Fitch said.

For Ross, he said that anyone who wants to get into game design should do so.

“Anyone can do that. It just takes dedication to learn how games are made and learn how to incorporate things that new people would expect,” Ross said.

Our Family Plays Games are hosting a board game night this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. at the Urban League of Nebraska at 30th and Lake Streets.

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