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Subject: Open Q&A with the Designer rss

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Ron Halliday
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Hello BoGGers! I'm Ron Halliday, the designer of Psychomachia. If you have any questions about myself or my game, feel free to ask.
(Falo português também. Hablo español tambien.)
 
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Ron Halliday
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To kick things off, I'll share some of the questions that a Peruvian magazine asked me last year.

What was your inspiration for Psychomachia?
To be perfectly honest, it began with a blank whiteboard and – being a cartographer – the desire to create a board game with an incredible map. When I started thinking about making a game with opposing but evenly-matched sides, the idea to incorporate the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues quickly came to mind. Soon after, I had a ‘eureka moment’ for the game’s mechanics, at which point I realized that I wouldn’t need a map and that the game could revolve solely around the seven sins and virtues. So that’s why it’s called Psychomachia: The Game of Sins and Virtues.

What does the name mean/stand for?
That’s the first question everyone asks when they pick up the box! Psychomachia is the name of a famous medieval allegory written in the fifth century in which the personifications of seven virtues do battle against the manifestations of seven vices within the soul of man. In Latin, Psychomachia means “the battle for the soul of man.”

Why start with the 7 sins and virtues theme, as opposed to anything else?
Many people can name the seven sins and virtues – the sins, anyway – and using a theme that appeals to a large audience is a huge advantage for any board game. Although my game has no religious overtones per se, the topic generates lots of interest and sales from gamers and non-gamers alike.

Creating a game and predicting and countering loopholes and cheats is not easy! What were some of the challenges of creating Psychomachia?
One of the most difficult challenges that game designers face is making sure that no one can ‘break’ your game by playing it in unexpected or unintended ways. You have to anticipate every possible scenario in order to include the proper checks and balances, and the rules have to be explained in such a way to leave absolutely no room for ambiguity. That’s why the prototype testing phase is so crucial.

What are some main differences between a game produced for children versus for adults?
Children’s games typically make up for their lack of complexity and difficulty by focusing on speed and interactivity. Strategy games, for example, are marketed exclusively toward adults and young adults. And games with mature themes sometimes have artwork that you might not want little kids to see.

How long did it take you to create this game, from the first solid ideas to final production in your hand, ready to promote and sell?
From the epiphany “I’ve got something here!” moment, to the day I sold the first copy of Psychomachia at the Jockey Plaza Christmas Fair, almost a year. Normally it would take longer, but when I presented my prototype to the owner of the only high-quality board game publisher in Peru, he wanted to produce it immediately – even though it meant pushing back his other titles!

What is the non-digital gaming culture in Lima and/or Peru like? How does it compare to Canada where you’re from?
Here in Peru, I’d say the gaming culture is about twenty years behind in terms of mass popularity. Board game stores have been around in North America since the 1990’s; until recently Lima could only boast one. And I don’t believe that many Peruvians of my generation grew up with 10-15 board games on their bookshelf like me and my friends did. The 35-and-over age group is an important demographic in North America; in Peru it’s almost non-existent.

What are two or three common misconceptions about gaming and/or gamers?
The biggest misconception is that almost all gamers are men. While this may hold true for some genres of games – war games and collectable card games do tend to cater to male audiences – women make up a large and growing component of the board game community. Another common misconception is that board games are only for kids or family nights. Stepping inside a board game store, however, will show that there’s a lot more out there than what’s offered at your local department store.
 
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