For all that the digital age has given us countless video games and consoles to choose from, there’s something about sitting around a table with friends or family to play a board game that can’t be mimicked on a screen. From traditional games like Chess and Go, to modern board games like Monopoly and Warhammer, physical games remain as popular as ever.
For proof, look no further than Hong Kong company Net:D Studio; when the team took their tabletop game Unrecorded Siege to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, it received overwhelming support – to the tune of nearly HK$190,000 from more than 200 backers – and will soon go into production.
Young Post chatted to Elroy Chung Lik-nang, one of the game’s developers, about what makes board games like Unrecorded Siege so timeless.
“I think you really need to be able to touch it and play it for yourself to understand the charm of our game,” he says. “Board games are about communication. You sit down and play together.”
The strategy board game for one to four players is set during the period of the Hundred Years War between England and France (1337-1453). Players form two teams engaged in a siege battle against one another, and gameplay involves special terrain pieces, tokens players can flick, rules for commanders, and strategy gambit cards. It’s exciting and interactive, with a lot more going on than in your average board game.
Despite the traction the game has gained, the odds weren’t exactly in the company’s favour to begin with.
“Our research showed the success rate of Kickstarter projects was around 30 per cent,” says Chung. “So I’m very happy and thankful we succeeded.”
Chung adds that a lot of the support they received came from outside Hong Kong, with people in other countries actively seeking them out thanks to word of mouth.
“I’m surprised at the enthusiasm of backers from Europe, Japan and Taiwan. Our efforts mostly focused on Hong Kong, but only one sixth of the funding was from here.”
Coming up with the game was the fun part, but now Chung and his colleagues need to deliver on their promise. That means making 1,000 units of their game and putting them in the hands of their backers. And it’s not an easy process.
“It is difficult to get a factory to make our product. There are a lot of different manufacturers and you have to be careful when it comes to building a long-term relationship with people you don’t know. You also need to find out what they specialise in and if they are capable of making what you ask for.”
Another major challenge is physically getting the game from place to place, both to exhibits and to their customers.
“A lot of people backed away [from the Kickstarter] because of high shipping fees,” Chung explains. “And for us, Taiwan is much easier to get to than Germany. And for Hong Kong specifically, space is a very real issue. Our game comes in a big box. People have the money. They want the game. But they have no place to store it.”
Still, there is clearly a demand for these types of board games, and Chung wants to see this trend continue. However, he advises people who want to make their own games to start small.
“A card game is easier to complete and that is very important. Ideas can be anything and everywhere, but following through with the ideas, turning bad ideas into good ones, refining your game and getting to the finish line is what matters.”