Meet the Bézier Games Team, Jay Bernardo

by Kevin Padula May 15, 2024

Meet the Bézier Games Team, Jay Bernardo

Meet the Bézier Games Team

~ Jay Bernardo ~


1. What is your role at Bézier Games?

Officially, I’m the Marketing Manager, but like everyone else on our small team, I wear multiple hats. When I began working for Bézier Games last year, my wife asked me this exact question.

Wife: So, what exactly do you do there?

I replied: Oh, simple. Ryan manages logistics and customer service. Toni heads finance, legal, and HR. Ted heads design and development. Rénee’s our Project Manager, talks with our manufacturers, and handles licensing. Erik and Steven do apps. Kevin responds to everyone on BGG and is in charge of Trade Shows and board game conventions.

Wife: But what do you do?

Me: I pretty much do everything else, but to be fair, everything is marketing. 

When publishing games, if you're not thinking about the end customer experience every step of development and every step of the sale process, you're doing it all wrong.

What does "everything else" include? It includes owning all our products on Amazon and everything that entails. I also manage content creation (written, photography, videography), so not only do I manage social media but I also create all the content for it across all our platforms: Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Threads, Pinterest, and the platform formerly known as Twitter. This means I also handle all our sponsored content, podcast appearances, review copies, giveaways, and talking with influencers. I run the Kickstarter campaigns and all the joy that goes along with those as well as all email campaigns and our membership program. I’m fairly confident I forgot to list something just now, which means I should probably get back to work.

 

2. What is your background in marketing?

In 2017, I started the website Cardboard East where I wrote about board games in Asia. I had been living in Taiwan for over a decade by that point and had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of the board game publishers in Taiwan. I had so much fun exploring all the unknown games in Taiwan that I figured I should begin writing about them.


Cardboard East eventually evolved into a YouTube channel and has been rapidly growing ever since. Due to my new experience in social media management and content creation, I got offered a marketing position for a cybersecurity startup in Taiwan. I began doing consultant work around Southeast Asia and eventually got offered this position at Bézier Games.


My wife and I talked it over, and we decided it was the right time to finally move back to the States. After 18 years abroad, it’s been quite the adventure being back and experiencing how much American culture has changed since BEFORE the iPhone was released (which happened right after I had left in 2006).

 

 

3. Were you a gamer before you moved to Taiwan in 2006?

Oh, yes. In junior high school, I had to take piano lessons in a strip mall near my home. After class was over, I’d wait for my parents next door at the comic book shop where they also sold Magic the Gathering. Piano lessons lost to gaming that summer—and every summer since.

 

4. If Magic the Gathering got you into the hobby, was there a particular board game that got you hooked?

I loved comics, but it was the wall of games that got me hooked. Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne were early favorites. I went through that phase of playing through every single Carcassonne expansion, including the catapult, which was when I realized things had gotten out of hand. But it was too late. I was hooked.

 

 

5. It’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What does this mean to you?

Decades ago, I was auditioning for a movie. I can’t remember what movie or the character I was auditioning for, but I’ll never forget what the casting director asked me: Can you try being less Asian?


I had no idea what that meant. I still don’t.


The truth is I had never given much thought to my racial identity—especially not when I was a kid. I grew up in white suburbia. There weren’t many Asians at school when I was a kid. I definitely remember feeling out of place most of the time. Seeing Ke Huy Quan in both The Goonies and The Temple of Doom blew my mind.


It wasn’t until I moved to Taiwan that I gave it some serious thought. Once I lived there and began traveling across Southeast Asia, my identity really began to take shape. You really need to experience other cultures in person to gain a full idea of who you are. Make no mistake, I’m American. But without a shadow of a doubt, I’m Asian.


Some people are lucky. They live and die in the same place never feeling the urge to leave as where they are feels like home. Others, like me, had to move to the other side of the planet, and even then, Taiwan never truly felt like home to me either. It’s hard to explain.

 

In 1971, Bruce Lee gave an interview where he explained how Americans felt he was too Asian and people in Hong Kong felt he was too American. That resonated with me to my core when I first saw that, and I still think about it today. 


People tend to focus on differences. And there are differences. But these are differences that could be used to divide us or be used to celebrate, explore, and educate. We all need to be better about living the latter.


The expat life really resonated with me because it perfectly mirrored how I felt about my racial identity. I’m American. I’m Asian. I’m both. I’m neither. I’m Asian American. I’m an American Asian. There are things I love and hate about both cultures. I can function in both cultures, but both also frustrate me to my bones. I had to learn to be comfortable with becoming a culture of one. 


This month is such an American concept; I love it. Honestly expressing yourself is one of the most simple and difficult things to do in your life, and the hardest part of that equation is knowing who you are. 


6. So, who are you?

I’m Cardboard East. I’m a bit more flamboyant on the channel than I am in real life, but the channel gives me an opportunity to honestly express who I am, my passions, and my thoughts. I’m incredibly fortunate to have people who’ve come along for the ride.

 

 

7. What do you think has changed about growing up as an Asian American today, from when you were a kid? Do you think Asian Americans today have it easier or rougher?


The hardest thing in life is living it. But I gotta say that it’s been phenomenal seeing Asians represented more and more in American TV and film. I teared up a bit while watching Crazy Rich Asians. 


I cannot stress enough how POWERFUL representation is. Ke Huy Quan’s performances in The Goonies and Temple of Doom had a huge impact on my childhood. I was in tears, watching his Oscar acceptance speech.


Going from the token nerdy Asian trope of the 80s to being real fleshed out characters has been empowering. 


Younger generations have their own struggles too. Having random people blame you for Covid couldn’t have been easy. But the idea isn’t to fix everything overnight; it’s to make continuous changes and improvements. If the next generation is having an easier time than the older one, we’ve succeeded.


Enjoy those little victories but never get complacent. There’s always work to get done. And you’ve got to do your part.

 

8. Do you have any rituals or observances that make you feel more in touch with your heritage?

I call my mom once a week—minimum. Filipinos tend to have BIG families, so social media makes keeping in touch with all of them a bit easier. 

There are days of the year that I do take time to remember my dad and brother and all the adventures we shared.

Is it odd for me to mention my immediate family when you ask about my heritage? Because that’s how I define it in my mind. Sure, the culture of my parents strongly influenced me, but them being themselves had a stronger influence on who I am today.

I guess I tend to think about heritage as my family, as they're the people who influenced me the most. My wife and I have begun a new chapter in our lives.

Living in America after decades abroad is challenging. My wife and I are slowly exploring ways to make this new environment feel like home. This is our new family, and we’re building our own traditions, rituals, and observances.

One small tradition is that we try to learn how to cook 2 to 3 new Asian dishes a month—dishes that we’ve had during our time in Asia. It’s a small thing, but it’s those small things that really define you.


9. You lived in Taiwan for 18 years. What inspired you to move across the world?

You hit your mid-20s and realize that not only do you wake up, go to work, and go home, every day but you also realize that this is your life now—and forever.


I could not accept that.


I wanted to live in an environment where I would be forced to learn every day. I figured if I couldn’t speak the language, then I’d be forced to learn. I already knew some Spanish, so I imagined that if I could speak English, Spanish, and Chinese, I could chill out and party with almost anyone on the planet.


I chose Taiwan over China as the health care was appealing and living in a democracy was kind of important to me. Although to be fair, Hong Kong cinema from the 90s had me convinced that Taiwan was filled with Triads laying low. Taiwan wasn’t quite like that.

 

 

10. What do you miss most about Taiwan now that you’re back in The States?


I miss living in a walkable city. I miss having cheap, affordable health care. I miss not having to worry about whether a doctor or dentist is within your insurance network because everyone has the same national coverage. I miss being exposed to multiple cultures all the time. Sure there are a lot of Taiwanese people there, but there are also a bunch of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Europeans, South Americans, Indonesians, Singaporeans, Indians, Malaysians, Japanese, and Thai there.


 And as much as I miss all of that, I miss my friends there more.

 

11. Do you have any advice or recommendations for Asian Americans trying to break into the board game industry?


Be patient. Be curious. Ask the right questions. Get your work done. Then, get even more done.

And if you’re Asian American, know that regardless of how you perform, you’ll be viewed differently. Don’t fear that. Don’t hate it. Own it.

I taught English for over a decade and told my students every week: Life is hard. Be harder.

Success means being focused. Being focused means saying no. You gotta be mean sometimes. Not in a wrathful way, but you absolutely must clearly state your limits and boundaries. There is a line that you should never cross. Just be sure you know where that line is before you get there. When you die on that hill, be sure you're ready to die. It'll be hard, but you'll be stronger for it.

Life is hard. Be harder. 

 

12. If you had to get Jumanji’d into a game in the Bézier Games’ catalog, which one would that be and why?


I would never want to live in a world where werewolves exist. Don’t forget that being “eliminated” by a werewolf or your fellow villagers would be a gruesome way to go, and it’s every night!


There’s only one bathroom in the Castles of Mad King Ludwig.


Cats are cute, but existing in a state where I’m both dead and alive would be terrifying. I just explained how coming to terms with my racial identity took the majority of my life.


Killer polar bear musician in the Arctic? No.


Flying in a hot air balloon only to have Kevin blast it to smithereens as he flies by in a rocket? No, thank you.


Chasing after a Rebel Princess where my main competition would be a frog prince? Meh. I already have my Rebel Princess.


Captaining an airship honestly sounds pretty awesome, so Whistle Mountain gets my vote.


13. Lastly, what have you been playing lately, and what are your favorite game mechanics?


Right now my wife’s favorite game is Wyrmspan, so by default, I play a lot of that. But bringing this interview full circle, I love card management and Seers Catalog is by far my favorite game from Bézier Games. In fact, just a while ago we had another internal playtest, and I won! You came in second place, right?


14. Yeah, we're done now.  Thank you.




Kevin Padula
Kevin Padula

Author




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