For James Miller

Today is the official release date for my book HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT, and I’d like to focus a bit on one single page in the book.

The dedication page.

In the first chapter, I quote my good friend James Miller quite a bit. I describe James as “my favorite person to learn a new game from,” which is no exaggeration. He was an absolute master at teaching game rules — and he was very generous in answering a lot of questions so that I could share many of his tips and techniques in the book. (If you knew James, “generous” is no doubt a word you would associate with him as well.)

James was also at the very top of my list of favorite people to play games with. If he had ever said to me, “I found this new game which is a cross between Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders. Do you want to play?” I would answer “yes” with no hesitation. Playing a game with James was guaranteed to be fun.

Tragically, James passed away on August 3 at the age of 50.

I’m thankful to the team at Tiller Press, especially my terrific editor Hannah Robinson, who found a way to add a dedication page to HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT even though it was well past the normal time for doing so.

The dedication says this:

For James Miller
Thank you for welcoming us
into your wonderful world.

Every time James taught a game, his opening line was, “Welcome to the wonderful world of Ticket to Ride” (or whatever game was on the table). And he meant it. He wanted everyone to feel welcome, and he wanted everyone to have a wonderful time.

James was a great friend, but he was so much more.

He designed and published one of the trickiest trick-taking card games of all time, Control Nut. He was a computer genius. He laughed easily and made his friends laugh just as easily. He was thoughtful and creative and generous and sweet and funny and gentle and a low-key badass. He didn’t hold anything back when playing the party game Time’s Up. He knew so many interesting things but was always more interested in what others had to say. He cared deeply.

When news of James’ passing spread among his many friends, “kindest” was probably the word used most often to describe him, and it’s true. James was the kindest. (The tribute wall on James’ obituary page is filled with such comments.)

The world is a less welcoming place without James, but Beth and I are so incredibly fortunate to have known him. Over time our memories will fill the holes that still exist in our hearts.

Thank you, James, for everything.

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