We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Trias and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always been someone with an artistic side. When I was younger I was completely in love with music. In college I became a songwriter, started a small record label with some friends and entered the workforce as a writer and editor at a major music industry trade magazine.
However, it’s hard to maintain creative careers sometimes. They don’t always pay the bills. Eventually I changed careers and went into medicine to pursue my other passions, namely, helping people and science. While I plan to stay in medicine until I retire, I still have that creative itch.
A few years ago I decided to scratch that itch by pursuing another creative path. I formed a board game company, Koalatie Games, so I could flex my creative and analytic sides at the same time. We are currently developing our second game, tentatively titled “DJ Icon.” Our first title, Upstaged, was released right before the pandemic at the end of 2019 and is about to hit board game store shelves around the U.S. in the next few weeks.
Overall, I believe that people need balance in their lives. A person’s career, in most cases, should not be everything about their being. Likewise, neither should their fun passion projects. If you can find a way to fit everything in your life in a balanced way, I believe that could lead to your most fulfilling life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a board game creator and musician, what sets me apart from others in the board game industry is my ability to draw from my other passions and experiences to create games.
What I’m most proud of so far is our first release, Upstaged. In Upstaged, you take the role of a music mentor on a game show, trying to discover the next big musical trio. The game is about to reach board game stores around the U.S. in the coming weeks.
I’m most excited about our upcoming release, tentatively titled “DJ Icon.” We are hoping to launch on Kickstarter later this year to raise funds to produce it.
Being a board game creator and publisher is not easy. Especially for our company, whose mission is to create new board game aficionados. Doing so means going against the norms of the industry. Our games our mostly music themed right now, which is not common. Also, game play is aimed at having easy and advanced modes, whereas most of the niche market board game fans love more complex games and often times more abstract themes.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way. In a niche hobby dominated by predominantly one demographic group, change is sometimes hard to accept. Our games are meant to bring in more diverse groups into the industry. Which means themes and mechanics that aren’t necessarily popular or, in some cases, respected by the gatekeepers of the industry. Luckily, there are many more people on the industry side of the niche board game industry who are supportive of the concept of the company, and that has kept us going throughout the years.
What I want the world to know is that at Koalatie Games, whether you are new to board and card games or a seasoned hobbyist, you are more than welcome to come have fun with us, playtest our games, or just hang out.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It’s impossible to give a real timed itinerary for things to do in the LA/OC area given the traffic and Covid. But here are things and places I would suggest they would have to hit up while they are here.
Amusement Parks: Disneyland, Knott’s, and Universal Studios of course.
Eats: Pampanga’s Bakery, Belly Bombz, Hottie’s, any AYCE Korean BBQ place, Long Beach Exchange.
Honestly, that’s about it. I’m not much into crowds right now for obvious reasons. Lol.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shoutout to the love of my life and wife, Jeanne, who supports me through all my endeavors.