Interview – Jeff Carlsen (Apathy Games)

Jeff Carlsen is one of the founders of Apathy Games, a small company dedicated to creating the quality gaming material necessary for a great night with friends.

Starting off with a more personal question, Apathy Games was founded in May of 2009. On your Facebook page, it says that “[w]e have jobs, families, and mortgages now. Our time has become precious, and thus we demand more from our games and our social experiences than we ever used to.”  So what keeps you going? What keeps you enthusiastic about working in the RPG industry?

There is something about our mentality that doesn’t let us just enjoy a hobby. We feel the need, in a manner of speaking, to control it. To make it our own and improve it. There’s a fine line between passion and arrogance, I suppose, and we have a lot of both. Like a hybrid car, when we run low on one, the other fuels us.

Also, the industry is going through an exciting rebirth right now. Design principles and production values are better than ever, and the Internet is changing delivery methods. We keep going because there is a whole world of untapped potential for those able to find it.

Earlier this year, Temporal Probability Agency: To Predict and Serve was nominated for Best Electronic Book. What did you think of the ENnies when you found out that you were nominated?

We were completely shocked to be nominated. TPA was our first product, whereas the ENnies were the most important awards in the industry. We’d be judged on the same stage as Wizards of the Coast and Privateer Press. We had a party.

Did your nomination affect short-term sales? How about long-term sales?

The nomination did boost short term sales for several weeks. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say.

What projects do you have on the schedule; anything you can talk about?

The only products we are formally working on are the second and third acts of To Predict and Serve. Those adventures will be larger in scale than the first act and take advantage of many of the new subsystems in Savage Worlds Deluxe.

Now that we’ve been around for over a decade, what do the ENnies mean to you both personally and professionally?

Personally, the ENnies are where I discover which games deserve the most attention. If something gets nominated, I know it has something worth looking at. It’s also an opportunity to root for my favorite products and bemoan results I disagree with. One could make a comparison to sports, but I’m not going to do that.

Professionally, I see the ENnies as a path to credibility. An electronic book shares a virtual bookshelf with thousands of other products. But the ENnie Awards have to narrow all of those releases down to the five or six best. Getting on that small list is a big deal.

Last question; if someone who had never heard of the ENnie Awards walked up to you today and asked, “So what are these ‘ENnies’ you keep talking about,” how would you answer them?

I would tell them that the ENnie Awards are the biggest awards in our industry. To an independent RPG publisher, it’s like being nominated for a grammy or Oscar. It means we did our job well.

For more information about Apathy Games, visit their website at

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