The story so far
and the path ahead...
The birth of an idea...
The winter evenings of my childhood were characterised by the presence of a board game - uniting my family in front of an open fire, wind howling and rain battering the windows. To this day, when I visit my folks, a board game of some sorts is bound to come out and I certainly hope to continue the tradition with my partner and our own children when they're old enough. A wholesome step away from the TV screens and games consoles that seem to dominate the experience of today's youth! And it's not just family I enjoy board games with. Like my parents before me I pull one out when friends come round to share a meal and a bottle or two.
Now there's one game I'll openly confess I've never played and that's Scilly Gold. A pirate themed, Scilly based board game released in 1989 and no longer in production, that I often noticed discussed on social media. It's not that it doesn't appeal, but I don't own a copy and wouldn't personally pay £60+ for a copy on eBay, which seems to be the only way to come across one these days.
Earlier this year, having seen Scilly Gold discussed for the umpteenth time, I began to wonder - why hasn't anyone produced something new? At the time, it was just a thought. I was mid design commission, had a good few photoshoots in the diary and between these commitments, plus a four year old and two year old, I was pretty tied up (oh, and I was six months pregnant too!) It proved to be a thought I couldn't shake though and in every (rare) quiet moment, it was where my mind wandered. It was what I woke thinking of... I'm a bit like a dog with a bone when I've had an idea!
With a concept rapidly taking form, albeit all in my mind (I told myself I mustn't put pen to paper or do anything on a computer until I'd completed the jobs in my diary) I sounded the idea to friends and family. Everyone was so positive and enthusiastic I was once again left amazed that nothing of the sort had been produced in so long... when my research began in earnest though, I began to understand that my idea wouldn't be as easy to turn into reality as I had hoped... and this was perhaps why.
So, the UK isn't really geared up for the production of board games. There are a tiny (TINY) number of places that offer the printing of game boards, cards and game boxes and I found only one option for producing the game in its entirety. Most significantly, all of these options were eye wateringly expensive and just not commercially viable. These are companies that specialise in prototypes and really short print runs and so increasing order quantities wouldn't even be an option to bring prices down.
Next I explored options on the continent - more possibilities sure, but now the other extreme - high minimum order quantities (we're talking as many as 10,000 units!) and where the minimum order quantities were manageable, the prices were still far too high when you took into account shipping costs and the VAT that would be payable on import.
At this point its worth mentioning that I had considered sourcing elements separately and fashioning what elements I could myself, or at least locally, but there was a big downside to this too. UKCA certification. All board games sold in the UK must have UKCA certification, the post Brexit equivalent of the CE mark you see on electronics, games and toys. The cost to have all the relevant documents drawn up and your product chemical and toxicity tested, as required to meet safety standards, just touches four figures. This is obviously a significant set up cost and its a cost you don't want to have to repay should a product, in this case the board game, change specifications because an element is unavailable and you have to use an alternative. This made me very wary of sourcing pieces from multiple suppliers and putting together the final product myself.
My solution might not be a popular one, as I feel like there is a certain amount of stigma attached, but I'm to produce the games in China. In the end, the only commercially viable option was to turn to the east - where in fact, if you look at your board games at home, you'll likely find most are produced. Its a little daunting, I'll admit. Logistically challenging, sure - but I'm confident I can make it work.
What has the process been so far?
Having initially taken shape in my imagination, the next step was to put pen to paper and draft out my ideas in rough text and images. Once I was happy with the direction things were going in I started to experiment with these elements digitally. After a few weeks experimenting, editing and re-editing the game board and game cards, it felt like time to test the concept in play. I used a British company to print me some prototype game boards and card sets and added basic game pieces and instructions to create some game play test kits. These were distributed, largely locally, to families, couples and individuals of a broad age range to collect feedback as well as measure game play duration.
Using the information collected I have been able to make adjustments to the board and cards ensuring play runs smoothly and feels well balanced. I have also significantly reformatted the instructions / game play guide, to be more visual, clear and concise. You can download the instructions by clicking below. This should give you a good insight to the game and I welcome any feedback you might have, so please do let me know if you're left feeling confused about anything!
What happens next?
I'm now in the final stages of refining game design and currently focussing on the game box packaging. Once my crowdfunding campaign has finished, I will be in a position to sign a production contract with my chosen factory and the next sampling stage will begin. I will receive an initial production sample to review and have the opportunity to make any further tweaks required.
Once I've approved this sample, all the elements of the game will be produced at the quantities ordered and a final manufacturing samples will be sent out to me before all the order is assembled. These samples will be used to attain UKCA certification and be a final checkpoint that would mean in the unlikely event that at this stage there was a problem with one element of the game, it could be resolved prior to everything being complied into the game boxes and prepared for delivery.
The delivery will come to me by sea, which is the most cost effective as well as having a much smaller carbon footprint than were I to use air freight. Delivery will be coordinated by freight forwarders with lots of experience importing goods from overseas!
Still have questions?
Get in touch and ask away - I'm always happy to chat