This article on game designers from the July 5 issue of IndyWeek (a weekly newspaper in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area of North Carolina) is definitely worth a quick read.
Just as there are scads of novelists, filmmakers, and computer game creators all over the place, there are also people who design more traditional board and card games, including some that sound very clever and original. One such game is Belle of the Ball, in which players play hosts of competing social events during which they compete to attract the Belle of the Ball to their own party. The creator of the game, Daniel Solis of Durham, has published over a dozen games and makes his living with them.
Nearby Chapel Hill is home to a game publisher called Dice Hate Me Games, founded by Chris Kirkman. They have 25 titles out, including Belle of the Ball. For links to more information on the games mentioned, see the article linked to at the start of this post.
My late younger brother Tom liked board games and would have loved to read about this. At odd moments of the years he worked on his own idea for a game parodying professional wrestling, in which players would manage "stables" of wrestlers, as in the WWE circa 1980. Since Tom didn't want to pay any licensing fees, he provided a set of made-up wrestlers, but players were free to import their own, including not just their own creations but also (as in fantasy football) real persons. And the universe of possible draftees wasn't limited to actual athletes but could include anybody at all, real or fictional, historical or contemporary. Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies could fight The Incredible Hulk. The Dr Watson from Sherlock (Martin Freeman) could wrestle the Dr Watson from Elementary (Lucy Liu). Aristotle could take on Mr Spock. It's a shame he never published the game.
As for me, I like the idea in principle, but as I keep griping, I don't have enough free time. In fact, I don't seem to have enough free time to do much of anything at all, which seems impossible now that I think about it, the temporal equivalent of Yogi Berra's "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." What's weird is that Hank Green, the entrepreneur who's all over YouTube and everything else, apparently has time to play board games with Wil Wheaton. (See this link if you don't believe me.) How the hell does he get that much free time and I don't get any?by