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Links: Behind the Scenes at Mattel & Marco Polo Wins the Deutscher Spielepreis

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Publisher: Mattel
• David Tucker is the Senior Designer and Art Director for Mattel Games and Innovation, and he's been responsible for the look of many game titles published by Mattel, including the German titles Bania, Kronen für den König, and Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister! In late August 2015, Tucker participated in a Facebook AMA ("ask me anything") that gave a tiny window into what goes on in the game section of this U.S. publisher. An excerpt:

For the last three years I have worked on board games for the German Market. I have been asked a lot "why only German?" and while I can't talk about our strategy believe me I hope we can expand eventually. Focusing on a specific strategy in a specific market has allowed me to work on 5 new board games over the last 3 years which is a nice increase.

That is a long winded way of answering — when we have the available time, money, and man hours to devote to new board games we passionately get to work on them. That all comes from how well we stoke our core brands because those are the bread and butter that allow us to invest in future games.

• The text above translates to something like "Carcassonne Japan Championship cheerleader", which makes sense as you probably can't wear that outfit too many other places.

Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo
The Voyages of Marco Polo from designers Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini and publisher Hans im Glück has won the 2015 Deutscher Spielepreis, with Orléans placing second and Colt Express third. Roberto Fraga's Spinderella won the children's DSP, while CGE's Alchemists took home the "Goldenen Feder" (Golden Pen) for best rules presentation. The results of the DSP comes from votes submitted by gamers.

• On Twitter I ran into Adrienne Ciskey, an artist and educator who recently complete her MFA (Master of Fine Arts graduate degree) by using games as art. You can see part of her thesis exhibition on her website, which features pictures and video about Bitter Pills. Here's a game summary:

Your body aches. Your head feels like it is going to explode. You are tired, but you can't sleep. And every day, you have to painstakingly stick to a schedule, just to take pills to mitigate some of these symptoms. You are living with a chronic invisible illness.

Bitter Pills is a board game about this experience, where you manage your medications and deal with the symptoms of hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome. Chronic illnesses are often hard to talk about, and in the case of invisible illness, there's no outward symptoms for others to see. By playing Bitter Pills, sufferers are given a way to discuss chronic illness with others through a less complicated language than the usual medical terminology, and their loved ones are able to experience the often stressful process of their daily routine.
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