W. Eric Martin
Over the past two months I haven't posted much game news due to the Boardgame News implosion of 2010, but that doesn't mean I've been goofing off completely. Mostly goofing off, yes, but not full-bodied, 100% loafing.
No, I've been bookmarking material for publication once the gates opened and I would have a forum to start type, type, typing once again. Some of this material might be familiar to you, but maybe you'll run across a few things of interest. Let's take a look:
• German manufacturer Scheer Spiele GmbH & Co. KG failed to deliver a number of game titles to publishers on the eve of the Spiel 2010 game convention last October, with Queen Games being especially hard hit. In January 2011 in its 50th year of business, Scheer – manufacturer of Spiel des Jahres-winning titles like Carcassonne, El Grande and The Settlers of Catan – filed for insolvency, according to the Main Post. The article notes that financial irregularities in early 2010 led to a financial loss "in the high six figures".
• Michael Schacht was interviewed in English by Jeux'n'Co. One forthcoming title he mentioned, Mondo, will be featured in a designer diary from Schacht this coming Monday, Jan. 31.
• In other Schacht news, his card game Gold! will debut on February 3, 2011 from German publisher Abacusspiele to coincide with the opening of the Nürnberg Toy and Game Fair. On that same date, a digital version of Gold! will debut from Skotos Tech for iDevices. For a detailed summary of game play, head to the Gold! page and check out my game description.
• Mayfair Games is holding weekly giveaways of Catanimals – plush versions of the building components in The Settlers of Catan – on its Facebook page. To enter, you must visit this photo album on the Tuesday that a new image is posted and "like" that image. One random "liker" will be chosen as the winner.
• In other Catan news, on Thingiverse Jonathan Mayer describes how to create laser-cut tiles in acrylic or wood for The Settlers of Catan.
• Peter Eggert is donating €1 to Die Kindernothilfe – a children's relief organization – for each copy of eggertspiele's Rummelplatz sold. What's more, all of the designers involved with the game have donated their royalties for the same cause.
• Yahoo's "Plugged In" – which normally features video games – highlights "five new board games you should play," featuring four highly-rated and well-publicized games and one head-scratcher.
• In late 2010, the Japanese magazine Game Link published a special issue devoted to Friedemann Friese, which included a new version of FF's Foppen that included all-new Japanese art.
• The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has once again delayed implementation of new tests – originally due to start in early 2009 – for children's toys and games that are designed to test for lead and phthalates.
When the CPSC first announced these provisions, I contacted a few game publishers for their reaction. Said Mark Kaufmann of Days of Wonder, "Because we sell games in both the U.S. and Europe, Days of Wonder products have always had to comply with the even tougher restrictions on product safety required by the European Union countries. The U.S. law is only now playing catch-up on this product safety issue, but our products have been lab-tested for years so other than providing copies of the same lab documentation in the U.S., there are no changes that we have to make."
Since the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is targeting products for children 12 and under, Zev Shlasinger of Z-Man Games said that one possible solution is to label all future games for ages 13+, a solution which highlights the fact that most releases from Z-Man are not aimed primarily at children.
• The Boardgame Remix Kit from UK-based Hide and Seek Productions explains how to transform "Trivial Pursuit into a surrealist parlour game, Scrabble into fight between a wasp and a robot, and Cluedo into a zombie invasion".
• Video game fan Keith Burgun at The Expensive Planetarium discovers modern board games and explains why they've retained some of the magic lost by recent video game releases.
• Brenda Brathwaite's Train is covered in a non-gaming publication once again, this time in The Daily Beast by columnist Ben Crair. Also mentioned are five other games in Brathwaite's "The Mechanic is The Message" series, games covering Cromwell's conquest of Ireland, the Trail of Tears, the Middle Passage, illegal immigration, and Haitian poverty. Says Crair:
Her goal was more than "blast-the-Nazis fun." "I wanted to do a design exercise to see if you could use game mechanics to express difficult subjects," Braithwaite says. "Every single atrocity, every single migration of people – there was a system behind it. If you can find that system, you can make a game about it. All games are, is systems."