Let’s give it up for our first member of the month in 2023, Chris Armstrong! Chris’ official title at his family owned-and-operated game company, SolidRoots, is Chief Creative Officer // Hufflepuff. Which tracks with what we know about Chris and what we know about Hufflepuffs: loyal, hard-working, patient, and kind. He blows into The Root on a fancy motorcycle ready to conquer creativity for the day. Chris and his wife Jen launched SolidRoots as a way to have fun and bring family and friends together through games.
SolidRoots is on a mission to create unique content, products, and experiences that bring you closer to your people. They want your friends to become your family and your family to become your friends. Having solid roots is about connection to something deep and meaningful. All that to say, they design and create unique board games; what they call party games, card games, kid’s games and their most popular game, Mind the Gap. They’ve graciously shared some games with The Root for our members to play, too! We highly recommend Ma’s Deep Shinola and, obviously, Mind the Gap.
What do you do? Tell us a little bit about your company.
I probably have the best job of anyone at The Root: I make board games with my family.
Yep – my wife and I started SolidRoots in 2017 as a homeschool project for our kids and now we work with our mom, brothers, cousins, children, and friends to come up with new board game ideas.
Specifically, I have designed most of the products you see coming out of SolidRoots, including Mind the Gap. I have a background in IT and web development, but I’m slowly letting those two job functions go to focus on designing full time.
What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
My biggest professional accomplishment is creating & designing a game that is played by thousands of people. Bonus: Mind the Gap had more sales at Barnes & Noble than Taylor Swift’s new album for a week or two.
How did you end up in your current role?
Married into it. I was doing something completely unrelated to design or board games when Jen & I got married. I started teaching myself graphic design for some personal websites and church projects Jen was doing. Fast forward 13 years and Jen & I start SolidRoots where we’re working together to create & design board games based on family traditions and values.
What advice would you give to 17-year-old you?
Don’t be afraid to fail at something. In fact, go fail a lot. You’ll learn so much more by failing than trying to be good at it.
What is the plot of your favorite movie or book?
A pirate enlists his enemies – an expert fighter and a giant – to help him rescue his true love, who is being forced to marry and is to be murdered by her fiancé on their wedding night. (The Princess Bride)
Given unlimited resources, how would you go about making the world a better place?
Clean water accessibility & renewable energy are two big areas I’d help. We have so many natural resources that we’re consuming and depleting when we should be living in balance with nature.
What is one of your favorite things about being a member of The Root Coworking?
At the risk of all the Gen Zers cringing, I’d have to say “the vibe.” The people are amazing to work with, the offices and common spaces are styled well, and the clients all have a getting-work-done energy.