Friday was my sole day at the UK games expo, I was hugely impressed by the event as a whole. For a good portion of the day we took a stroll round the trade hall with the intention of taking up any offers of a game. Having just played a bit of a dud we headed to an enticing looking stand for a game called HUNGER: The Show and were asked if we wanted to try the game.
We played the game standing up, this is not essential but it felt full of energy. In HUNGER you take part in an island reality TV show where you strive to survive, your options are to collect either chickens, fruit or wood, steal these goods from others or stop the thieves as a guard through simultaneous action selection of all players playing a card for the action and the location it will take place in. It’s all set up using the box as the island and looks very nice, with great artwork that is fitting and satirical of reality TV shows.
The game is simple enough for non-gamers but with gamers has a real backstabbing element that is not just ‘take that!’
We played the whole game in about 10-15 minutes and the presentation of the game by the two guys on the stand who also played was really impressive, it was slick, fun, funny and exciting.
I bought the game following both the experience of that game and seeing the great potential of this more meaty party game that can be played with six in at most 20 minutes. Following my bargain of a purchase one of the exhibitors asks ‘would you like it signed by the designer?’
I would, of course. He turns to the other exhibitor/player and says ‘Pim is the designer!’ Pim writes ‘have fun’ and signs the inside of the box lid. We talk a little about how much we enjoyed the game, our podcast and he is fine with us talking about HUNGER: The Show on the podcast (Alex did on episode 13), we shake hands and move on to sample more expo delights.
Their showmanship and passion for the game really stuck with me, it was the standout moment of my expo. I found Pim on the boardgamegeek site and after reading more about him on his website I had to get in touch to ask him about his game, exhibiting and the expo, thankfully he was more than happy to answer my questions.
How was your experience at the UK Games Expo, did you get a chance to have a look round at other exhibits?
It was fantastic, so much to do and experience. I didn’t have time to look around as much as I wanted to but still enough to feel the spirit of expo and the delightful atmosphere. One thing that I really wanted to do more of was playing other games and prototypes.
I was really impressed by the showmanship of your exhibit, was this your first games expo?
Yes. Hunger is my first game release and I have never worked at a games expo before. But I have some other experience from before that I think helped me. When I studying I was moonlighting as juggler and stand-up comedian. I have also sung in choirs, so I’m used to show business.
The other people on your stall seemed just as passionate about the game as you. Who was on your team exhibiting the game?
It was a nice mix. For demoing the game, I brought my brother who has been an important part during the evolution of the game and he is also used to acting and performing. The other two youngsters were both sons of the publishing team Phalanx. One lives in UK now and the other one lives in Poland. I had never met the boys before but both really loved the game so we did not need to act that we like the game, all of us really think it’s a fantastic game. I think the test players felt that.
Was UK Games Expo the first time HUNGER: The Show has been sold anywhere?
Yes, it’s the first time. Phalanx have not been marketing the game so much before so this was also the first marketing for the game. Phalanx have still not got the full print batch because of a delayed kickstarter project for the printing company. But in a couple of weeks they will start to distribute it through the regular chain.
Because of almost no marketing before, gamers didn’t buy the game without playtesting it. But in the same time, the best feedback you can get as a designer is that gamers buy the game after they have play tested it. And I think all groups, except one or two, who play tested Hunger during the expo bought it. So, I’m very glad and proud of the result.
What was your process for designing HUNGER: The Show, did the theme come first or the game mechanics?
Designing Hunger was unique in one way. When I got the idea, in 5 minutes I figured out about 90% of what still is the game mechanics. The theme was also on a deserted island but without the show. You can read more in my Designers Diary soon to be on BGG!
What games inspired your design?
That’s hard to say, none directly but also all the games I have ever played. For most game ideas, I have some inspiration and some feeling I want to bring about. But the idea of Hunger just struck me and it felt so perfect. But in general I like games with a lot of player interaction, that are easy to learn and hard to master.
How did you become interested in board games, were you a gamer first or did you design games then start playing others?
I have been a gamer all my life but have been designing games for 5 years. Until I was in my mid 30’s I played high-level volleyball & beach volleyball and worked full time. But actually, it wasn’t the time that was the reason to not start designing games earlier. I have a great need to do something creative and before volleyball filled that part. When I stopped playing suddenly I had a big gap of creativity that I had to fill with something so now I’m writing books and designing board games. Without that creative part I feel only half full. I also still have a highly competitive nature so I’m not satisfied to just create something. I want the games to be as good as possible so others think are good enough for buying and playing.
How did you come to have your game published by Polish company Phalanx?
To find a publisher it’s not enough to have a good game. They have to think it fits in their production line, isn’t too similar to something they have, and think it will sell. This time it was Phalanx that thought all these parts were fulfilled which I’m truly grateful for.
The artwork (by Robert Adler) is great, did the publisher put the artist forward for the game or did you find him?
Robert Adler is a famous Polish illustrator and he was Phalanx suggestion.
Your website says you have designed other games, will we be seeing more games from you in the future?
I hope so. I am working hard to get meetings with publishers to pitch my latest ideas. For the moment, I have 3 games that I think are good enough to be published. And I hope that Hunger will show that I have some interesting and fresh ideas that the gamers like.
Pim Thunborg is a board game designer and author from Sweden.
Learn more about Pim at his website http://pimthunborg.se/