This Canadian from Ottawa who brought us, among other « Blueprints », and most recently one of my favorite games of the moment: the Northwest Passage Expedition published by Matagot is part of the Game Artisans Canadians. Established in 2008, the association met the creators of games and passionate Canadians working together for the good of Game in Canada for all of us in the world.
Yves is a creator that we need to monitor closly because I guarantee you that we will hear from him in a relatively near future.
Before discovering Yves Tourigny’s games, let’s discover a little more about the game creator with these 7 questions.
1- How old were you when you played your first board game and what was it?
« I don’t recall how old I was when I played my first board game. Maybe six years old? At first, I played traditional games: card games, checkers, snakes and ladders, chess, backgammon, mancala. I was then introduced to mass market games: Sorry, Trouble, etc. I also had the opportunity to play many european games (especially Ravensburger) at that age: aMAZEing Labyrinth, Sagaland, Grand Safari, Scotland Yard.»
2 – Why and how did you decide to create board games?
«Board games are a form of expression that is both artistic and scientific, which pleases me immensely. I love a good mathematical or logical challenge, and game design consists of essentially that. We can describe the underlying mathematical structure of any phenomena we can observe or imagine. Games allow you to play with those models without having to worry about the messiness of reality. When they succeed, games offer a very visceral and evocative experience.»
3 – What are your 3 favorite games company and why?
«I would give you a different answer to this question every day. Should I distinguish between a game and the experience of playing that game? There are games for which I feel a profound admiration but that are difficult to play, because they provoke a strong reaction, or because they take a long time to play, or both. I think that for a game to qualify as a favorite, it has to be accessible. Ticket to Ride is unavoidable. It can be played with anyone. If my copy is destroyed, I will re-purchase it (although that is true of all games that I’ll be mentioning). I could just as easily have nominated Thurn and Taxis, Transamerica, 10 Days in Africa, or other network building race games. Can’t Stop is a perfect, streamlined game. Once again, it is a very accessible game, and that’s what makes a design successful. On another day, I might lean towards Code 777, Lost Cities, Coloretto, Pick a Dog, For Sale, Hanabi, or Love Letter instead. Biblios is a game where each decision is important. There is just enough theme to give meaning to the game rules and to give weight to each action. There are others that I find just as good: King of Tokyo, Finca, Mondo, Rattus, and others. I haven’t mentioned any heavier games (« real » games according to some people) with a stronger theme. There are many that I like, or love, even: Troyes, Pergamon, Agricola, Last Will, Glory to Rome, Eminent Domain, Brass. It would have been equally difficult to name my three favourite song. I don’t think it’s possible to answer honestly, because it is influenced by my daily mood.»
4 – For you what is the best combination for a successful game?
«I think we would first need to define what we mean by « successful game ». Is it a game that sold a lot of copies? Is it a game that has won awards? Is it a game that has a high public profile? Is it a game that is well-rated by gamers? Each definition comes with its own criteria for success. In my opinion, a game design’s success depends on its intrinsic qualities, for which the designer is ultimately responsible, and extrinsic factors, which are out of the designer’s control. There are good games that will not find the success they deserve. On the other hand, there are few bad games that find success (except perhaps if you are defining success as mass-market appeal).»
5 – How do to create a game?
«Each game is different, but it usually starts with some idea that I want to implement. Often the idea is a theme; sometimes it is a mechanism, or a physical component. I will then explore the idea and set some constraints since, paradoxically, constraints will often lead to more creative ideas. I’ll proceed systematically to describe the idea mathematically: I’ll make ordered lists, diagrams, calculations. I’ll imagine how the game will play, in order to identify all the necessary elements. Unlike some of my colleagues, who will test mechanisms without context (which is not at all a bad way to proceed), I tend to step back and look at the game idea holistically. I want to see, in my mind’s eye, the watch which I’ll proceed to break down into its components gears, springs, and screws. Once I have all the elements, I’ll try the game. I’ll test it alone first, then bring in some colleagues. We validate, question, eliminate, and add the elements that work, don’t work, are extraneous, or are interesting. If the project still seems viable, I’ll go back to the second paragraph.»
6 – What advice would you give to someone wishing to create a board game?
«Find some honest colleagues. I work within a group of Canadian designers, the Game Artisans of Canada (www.gameartisans.ca). Locally, I meet with my colleagues every week to work on games. We play, we review, we discuss. With the other chapters of the group, we exchange prototypes, we help each other with writing, revision, art, etc. The most insidious trap for new designers is the playtest. Family, friends, and local gamers tend to want to spare the new designer’s ego. The validity of the feedback is suspect. It is difficult to provide constructive criticism, doubly so when the designer is at the table with you, and when he/she is a friend. When the game simply does not work, it’s obvious, and criticism is generally not necessary. It is a lot more difficult to provide (and receive) advice when the game works but it is simply not very interesting. There is a surplus of « okay » games in the market. Finally, I would suggest that those who are interested in creating a board game do so only if they find the experience rewarding. The effort required to create a game is minuscule compared to the effort necessary to validate a game, find a publisher, and ensure its success (if such a thing is possible).»
7 – Could you give us some information on your next project?
«I don’t have one next project but several ongoing ones. My agents are the the French company Forgenext. They currently have several of my games, and we are looking for the appropriate publishers for each of them. I am mostly working on games that are not heavy, not long, with a strong mechanism and a coherent theme.»