Dawson Cowals

Today we are featuring designer Dawson Cowals, designer of the soon to be Kickstarted game Ratfink: Scurry and Scamper. Dawson started designing his first game Ratfink: Scurry & Scamper with good friend Jeff Huit back in February of 2016 which they are finally getting ready to release on Kickstarter, hopefully later this Summer! Since then he has attended a dozen Cons in the Pacific Northwest, spent many hours playtesting with other local designers, and worked on 2 new games Motif and Ratfink: Escape Claws. When he’s not writing or performing music or designing and playing games he daylights as a software engineer. He and his wife live just outside Portland, in Beaverton with their 4 year old daughter who is already an avid gamer-in-training! Dawson and his wife both got into modern board games in 2009 on their honeymoon while in Hawaii. They had dinner with friends who Dawson grew up with in Kona and they brought out Settlers of Catan. It's been a crazy ride since then! Make sure to stop by Dawson’s Designer Alley table to play Ratfink, and look for it on Kickstarter later this year.


  • Dawson has been a singer-songwriter for over 20 years and plays 5 instruments: flute, oboe, guitar, ukulele and piano. You can check out his songs like "Stop the Sun" or "Same Star" on iTunes, YouTube, etc.

  • He was on a Ballroom Dance team in college and helped teach dance for many years.

  • Dawson is an avid reader (75-100 books per year) and helps run a fan page for the Iron Druid Chronicles on Facebook.

Questions by Kimberly Revia (KR), answers by Dawson Cowals (DC).


KR: What part of designing games has been the most challenging?

DC: Juggling a full-time day job as a software engineer, family life with a toddler and working long distance with my co-designers.

KR: Is there anyone you would love to co-design a game with?

DC: I don't think there's room to list everyone! Ha! Of those I actually know and already game with Tony Miller, Sean Epperson, Alice Davis, Joseph Chen, Shawn Stankewich, Dan Letzring and more. From the games I love to play Kane Klenko, Shem Phillips, Randy Hoyt, Jamey Stegmaier the list goes on.

KR: Is there any theme that you would love to use in a design?

DC: I think I'm currently using my most loved theme of music in our heavier Euro, Motif! As a musician I've always wanted to work on a truly music-themed game and I've finally had the chance with this project!


KR: What do you look most forward to when you go to conventions?

DC: Getting to play games with friends from near and far, both published and their latest prototypes. Sometimes even when we live close by we rarely get time during busy day job schedules to get together. With Cons it's finally a chance to sit down and share some great gaming fun together. We had an epic perfect 11 player game of Just One at the recent Gamestorm until 2am that was one for the ages! Ha! 

KR: How do you decide what games you add to your collection?

DC: The majority of our gaming is just my wife and I so if it isn't going to play well 2 player it usually gets passed up. My wife isn't as into heavier euros so I only have a few of those in my collection. Also, as a graphic designer I'm pretty picky about art and design so games have to excel in those areas to draw my eye. I always try to play before I buy and fortunately with some game reviewers in the Portland area I often get to help play new games before they are released and find ones that I would like to have on my shelf as well!

KR: What is your favorite game night snack?

DC: Popcorn with nutritional yeast but it's messy so I don't always have any snacks when playing.

You can find Dawson and what he is currently up to by following the links below!

Twitter: CohortVIIIGames

Facebook: facebook.com/CohortVIIIGames

Instagram: CohortVIIIGames

Website: cohortviiigames.com