My name is John Fiorillo. I recently founded a game publishing company called #GoldBabyGames. It's first product, #DrawingDead, was successfully funded on Kickstarter and will be available later this year.
One of the goals of that campaign was to give people intrinsic value in a really cool deck of cards and sweet poker set, in case they weren't too sure about the game or me as a designer. Even though I've been in the game design industry for a while and had recently co-founded Stone Blade Entertainment, this was my first release under a new brand and on my own. I wanted to highlight the ways this company would be different than the last (not that it's better, but it's different) and showcase some of my capabilities as not just a game designer, but a product designer and maker.
Jibe Hive is a different venture. It's still game-related, but more about taking games and making them into art or putting a cool twist on them than publishing new games like Gold Baby Games. Instead of hiding games in a closet or having them collect dust on a bookshelf, I wanted them to be more integrated into our lives.
That's why I'm calling it Jibe Hive.
Definition of jibe
: to be in accord : agree —usually used with with <a story that doesn't jibe with the facts
I want games to agree with people. I want them to fit into their every day lives seamlessly.
It's rare that I'll say "Hey! Anyone want to play a game?" and even more rare that everyone around will say yes. That's just too many steps between not having fun and having fun. However, if it's just sitting there or easily accessible, I find that games just... happen.
So how can games be more accessible? More importantly how can I make them more accessible.
There are two ways that make sense for me:
1. Make them look awesome!
Sometimes all it takes is a paint job or some interesting take on a game board to take it from being stashed away to being proudly displayed. My first experiment was a game that's not very popular, but I enjoy. It's called Crokinole.
Crokinole is a flicking/shooting game. I recently became interested in this space because I've always loved little skill-based, bar-room shooting games like shuffleboard. Shuffleboard is a fun game I used to play every weekend at the local pub with friends. I always wanted one for my home, but they're both extremely expensive and quite large. I don't really have room for a 20-foot table in my house. Nor do I have a few thousand dollars to burn on a table, so I looked into alternatives.
A friend of mine told me about Crokinole and it seemed like the sort of thing that would be perfect. Those boards usually go for a minimum of 200 and the shipping could be pretty hefty, so I decided it would be a fun project to build my own board.
I enjoyed the process and had learned a lot about making a nice board. I wanted to try again, so I made a few more to practice. They came out better and better. I liked them so much, so I decided to sell them on Etsy.
Once I had the process down and understood the different ways it could be done and the pros and cons of each I, of course, decided to iterate and design something that I think is much cooler! I think it's important to build on things that people have done and learn the basics before you innovate. It gives you a much stronger foundation to build upon.
But once you do, you can let your imagination run wild.
Space Crokinole board.
You might look at this and think that it's made from something completely different. Actually, it's made from the same wood I made the other boards with. I just hand painted it and gave it a different topcoat based on what I learned previously. Even though this isn't the standard way to finish the board. I came to the conclusion it was the best after trying all the alternatives.
And this is what I like to do. Take things and add my own touch. Whether it be from game design or the product design side of things, I want it to stand out and be more "me".
I'm working on a whole series of cool space themed boards for various games and even some other unconventional game boards that I'll be sure to show once done. But. if you like Go, retro arcade machines, strategy games, poker sets, escape rooms or deck builders make sure to follow me here!
Anyway, I digress. That whole rant was just meant to illustrate how I like to make things like this stand out and to be put on display. It's just a way of reminding people to stop and have fun sometimes. If it's just sitting there in front of you, it's so much more likely that an impromptu game breaks out or that a conversation about it starts. Out of sight, out of mind!
2. Make them easy to break out
If any of you are like me, getting anything in the living room is difficult to get past your wife. (Even if it looks super cool.)
So, I thought about what I'd want and realized what I really needed was some 007 action. Something so slick you wouldn't even know it was a game. Like a transformer, it needed to be more than meets the eye. Actually, that's it. Why not make transformers for grown ups!? Why not a table that transforms into a game, or a desk? So I started designing.
I won't go into as much detail as I did with the crokinole project, but here's a little teaser photo.
That was actually my first project (that still isn't done). It's called Novatron and it's still in the making. This was the control panel to the first of a series of old school arcade machines. The eventual idea is that you'll be able to convert your desk into an arcade, or your coffee table, or have it mounted in the wall. At a moment's notice it could just appear and there could be Street Fighter (2)!
But, without going into too much detail, i'll just say this. When it's done it'll be really cool! (Or it won't be done yet.)
I can't wait to sink my teeth back into a project like this, but with Drawing Dead still in design. I can't spend too much time on side projects. The game boards weren't too time consuming, but some of the other things will. And because of that they'll have to wait until after Drawing Dead is out the door!
I'll continue to post here, on my site. on Etsy and to social media. Please sign up for the Drawing Dead mailing list if you're interested in finding out what new project I'm working on.
And please feel free to reach out to me directly if you're interested in having your games published, need games designed, need art or pretty much anything that you think I can do. i'm always happy to meet new people and collaborate!
PS - I'm considering a twitch and/or youtube channel where you can see my design process and me making stuff. If anyone's interested in that, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
The alternative is to just write more about it, but was wondering what the best way for you all to digest content. Please let me know!