Five female board game creators you need to know aboutgino.villablanca
Our great Devir family holds in it many talents, including amazing women that inspire us with their talent and creativity when it comes to board games design and illustration. They are artists and designers whose work we are honored and privileged to count within our titles. Today, we want to take a closer look at their work in the board game industry.
Shei S. – Co-author – The Red Cathedral
Shei is one half of Llama Dice, the Madrid-based duo responsible for the marvel that is The Red Cathedral. With over 10 titles published under her name, Shei is a relentless and brilliant game designer. Her games are known for their simple rules and big replayability. We’re very excited with her next project, a coop game in real time that we will publish soon, designed by Llama Dice.
How do you feel regarding the overwhelming reception The Red Cathedral had?
Actually, I’m still processing everything that has happened, and that is still happening!, since last september. The reception has been amazing, both from the public and the critics, and seeing how The Red Cathedral keeps crossing borders and borders. It’s really exciting watching players talk about your game, developing their strategies and trying to guess the authors’ intentions in the design.
What advice would you give to the aspiring board game “architects”?
You should play a lot, and enjoy the design process. Playing for me is the best way to “study” board game design, and besides, it’s fun! It’s always interesting to see how other authors solve playstyle challenges, or how they approach different mechanics. Besides from that, once we have a design there’s nothing left but to test, test, and test… and try to improve it until we have a version we’re completely satisfied with. And if it comes out regular… take a deep breath and keep on building!
Muntsa Corbella – Co-author – KareKare
Muntsa is one of the creators of one of the games we’re most proud of: KareKare. It’s a game that highlights New Zealand’s precious and autochthonous fauna, focused on four species of birds in danger of extinction. It is her first and to this date, only game, but we can not wait to see what will Muntsa bring on her next design.
What was it that inspired you to create KareKare?
Well, first I’d like to point out that the game is a co-creation with my partner. Many years ago a Carcassonne made its way into our home, then it came Agricola, Stone Age, Finca, The Pillars of the Earth, Le Havre… do you see where I’m getting? We love games with small pieces, where we have to recollect around to achieve a goal… and, of course, most of the games we create go that way.
In this case, KareKare came up during a trip we did to England, where we saw the English fields and we thought of a game with tiles, one next to the other… Then we came back home and we started working on it. We should put together different types of lands to achieve different things, we decided on a theme (at first it was a field with sheep), until we came to the conclusion that we should make the tiles hexagonal. Once we had the game finished we knew we had something great in hand, and it made us very happy that Devir thought so too.
What advice would you give to the little birds that dream to create their first board game?
I’d recommend them to play a lot, and to surround themselves with friends and family to test out the game. Have a critical mindset and be open to all ideas – some of them might be the key for a cool game to turn into a very cool game! Having your game published is great, but the most important thing is to enjoy the creative process and to have fun sharing it with friends and family. And if you think your game is the best, apply to every contest you can!
Sophia Wagner – Author – Ratzzia
Sophia Wagner came into the board game design world through the big door, when she won the 2015 Spiel des Jahres scholarship for new game designers. Not bad, right? What a great start! Since then, she’s published many games, including one of our favourites: Ratzzia.
What was the creative process behind deciding to fill the kitchen’s cabinets with rats?
There was a time, I asked myself, what elements I like in games. One thing are dice. Many dice! Without a clear idea of the game I ordered a lot of dice in different colors, sat down and begun to play around with the dice and some other materials. I found some completely different approaches that I found promising, and many others, that I gave up after some consideration. The basic idea of Ratzzia I loved, immediately! You place dice on a common board, in order to get the best for yourself, but others might benefit. Short term alliances with switching partners promised a lot of funny conversations, emotions and laughter. I tested the first prototype alone to find out how many dice and how many fields to place them. Then, I tested it in different playgroups, collected feedback and observed carefully, what are the elements that are fun and worth staying in the game and which are frustrating, that have to be removed or changed. Step by step, the game became better and better and finally, it was ready being published. At this point, it was a game about getting bananas. Name and theme of Ratzzia was found together with Devir. I was very happy, that Devir not only wanted to publish Ratzzia, but also to give it this beautiful illustrations and high-quality material. In the end, it took about 3 years for Ratzzia, from the first prototype to being published.
What advice would you give to people looking to create their first board game?
If you want to create your first board game, I would give the advice: just do it! Don’t worry about your first game not being perfect enough to playtest it with other players. Playtest it! Get feedback! No game is perfect, at the beginning. Don´t get discouraged, when getting negative feedback about your game. It takes a lot of development and tests to improve it. Also, be open to discard elements of the game or the game itself. Sometimes, it is better to focus on a new idea, if you see, your current work doesn’t lead to something good. With each game you develop, each problem you come across, you learn more for future projects. And: have fun!
Núria Aparicio – Artist – Ratzzia
Núria Aparicio (also known as @lapendeja) is an artist and animator from Barcelona. She has illustrated many child books and animated plenty of short films, but Ratzzia is her first, and until now, only work in the board games world. Her cartoonish style makes her a perfect fit for a dynamic game as Ratzzia. We can’t wait to see what games she’ll illustrate next.
Ana Llenas – Board game artist and book author – The Color Monster
Ana Llenas is the brilliant mind behind The Color Monster, the children’s book on which the designers based their work for the board game with the same name. Graphic designers and artists, Ana’s work is focused on writing and illustrating children’s books with positive messages and exploring emotions.
How was the experience to adapt your book to a board game?
In truth, it’s being a very enriching experience. Being able to talk to the game’s creators about how to create a game that kept the book’s essence and purpose, but also making it fun and engaging was quite a challenge. I’m very happy with the final product, its contents, its materials and its dynamics.
Would you like to launch another board game based in one of your books? If so, which one?
Yes! That would be great. For example, I’d love a board game based on my book TOPITO TERREMOTO that somehow reflects the respect for other people’s differences, their rhythms, their ability to concentrate, etc.
We could also very easily adapt my book LABERINTO DEL ALMA into a board game, since the book itself already includes a game, similar to The Game of Goose but based in emotions.