The Asian Board Games Festival, created by Singaporean board game designers and publishers, Origame, successfully brought together 23 board game publishers (and even more games) from all over Asia for the largest event of its type in the country.
With interesting new mechanics and design, board games have come a long way from the classics such as Monopoly, Risk and Scrabble.
Play as woodland folk and prepare for winter in the beautiful Everdell, play your part in surviving a Zombie apocalypse, or be the ultimate purveyor of the King of Fruits as you travel between Johore and Pahang in Origame’s Durian Dash, the board game scene has grown exponentially.
While everyone was enjoying themselves at the Asian Board Games Festival, amongst the creators and publishers a singular message shone through – while many Western publishers have adopted Asian themes, such as Takeneko and Hanabi by award-winning French designer Antoine Bauza, Asian publishers, designers and creators are just as capable and understand the subject matter and culture in the region better to be able to create more ‘authentic’ and ‘genuine’ games.
We catch up with some of the Asian publishers to understand more about the board game scene in their respective countries.
Daryl Chow – Head Designer – Origame (Singapore)
Origame designs, publishes, and champions modern board games that tell stories about Asian culture and heritage. Some of the notable games include Mooncake Master, The Korean Wave, Kopi King and Plantopia.
Daryl Chow, is a globally acclaimed and award-winning board game designer with extensive international experience, having designed games for companies worldwide. Some of his works include Overbooked (Jumbo, Netherlands), The Artemis Project (Grand Gamers Guild, USA), Remember Our Trip (Saashi and Saashi, Japan and dlp, Germany) and Plantopia (Origame, Singapore).
We speak to Daryl about the need for an event such as the Asian Board Game Festival, the growth of the industry and his personal connection to designing Asian-themed games.
Tran Ngoc Tue Man – CEO & Sales Manager – Ngu Hanh Games (Vietnam)
Ngu Hanh Games is a boardgame creation and production company founded by Tran Ngoc Tue Man and Nguyen Thien Toan since 2019.
The goal of Ngu Hanh Games is to create and produce board games and card games that reveal the story and soul of Vietnam.
Girin Nayak – Founder and Managing Director – XOtoXO Games (India)
XOtoXO Games is a small indie game design and publishing studio based in Chennai, India. Operations started in 2021, and they have since launched their first game Athangudi: Artisans of Chettinad, in 2022. At present, still a one-person operation, they are an example of how the pandemic not just introduced more people to board gaming, but also inspired new designers.
We speak to Girin Nayak, the Founder and Managing Director, on his start in the industry, as well as the traction in India.
Ronald Villaver – Game Designer – Larong Atin (The Philippines)
Larong Atin is a brand established by Ludus Distributors to house talented Filipino creators. Ludus itself is a leading tabletop hobby game distributor in the Philippines, and also leads the way in local tabletop games publishing and working closely with local designers to help grow the Philippine tabletop game design industry.
Ronald Villaver shares the success they’ve had not just within Asia, but globally as well.
Goh Choon Ean – Game Designer – Kaki Lima (Malaysia)
Arts-ED is a non-profit organisation (NPO) based in Penang, Malaysia, providing innovative community-based arts and culture education in rural and urban communities. Our programmes focus on the theme of arts, culture and heritage, and utilise creative educational approaches that encourage learning centered on real issues.
From what started as advice and guidance to her students, Goh Choon Ean developed and published her game, Kaki Lima, using photos from her phone’s camera and game design inspired by Penang’s kaki limas (5-foot-ways).
Xeo Lye – Co-Founder – Capital Gains Studios (Singapore)
Capital Gains Studio is a Singapore-based game design and development studio on a mission to inspire learning through simple yet seriously fun ways. We also publish light family games under Mercat games, with a focus on creating memorable experiences for families and friends.
Co-Founder, Xeo Lye, shares what it takes to develop and have games ready for a publisher, and the key things to keep in mind when approaching one to distribute your game.