Spolight on White Goblin Games – an interview with Bart Nijssen

I caught up with Bart Nijssen of White Goblin Games who I’m hoping to see at Essen…

Hi Bart, why don’t you start by telling us the story of  White Goblin Games. How long have you been established? Who are the principle employees and what are their backgrounds?

White Goblin Games was founded back in 2004, when the CEO’s Jonny De Vries and Johan Kuipers got together. We started distributing high quality board games in the Netherlands and Belgium. Under the moniker QWG Games, together with Quined Games, we successfully distributed highly successful games like Caylus, The Princes of Florence and Pandemic in the low lands. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been working solo again under our own moniker, co-developing and producing board games of our own and focusing more and more on the international board game markets.

Your stable of games include such note worthy names as Brass, Macao and Endeavor. What has been the response to White Goblin Games so far?

The games you mention here are a few of our licensing titles. Great games, that have proven their quality on an international scale, so the response has been great. Very interesting to see however,  is how the reactions are to the titles that we’ve co-developed, like the highly successful Rattus (for which you can expect a first expansion at Spiel 2010), Hotel Samoa (a Bruno Faidutti game of the year nominee) and our recently announced titles Inca Empire, Norenberc and Khan, for which we’ve just started taking pre-orders on our website. A few media have already published a preview on these games, and so far, the reactions have been very, very good!

Can you tell us about the process you went through to set up your company? Tell us about the ups and downs of publishing board games in the current world economy. The challenges and opportunities.

We’ve been growing and growing and growing throughout the years, and our focus has changed from only licensing, to licensing and co-producing. It’s always a challenge to find quality games. I think we’re getting better and better at this and it strengthens our international position. That is our goal: to become an important player on the international board game scene. We do have the contacts nowadays in the board game world and this makes up for some great games, not only now, but also in the future. There are some great things we’re already working on for 2011, that we’ll announce later!

Any words of advice for others interested in design/publishing their own board games?

Don’t be a copycat, but try to find new mechanisms. And test it good before you take your design with you to a publisher. Usually, you’ll only get one chance to convince a publisher with a prototype, so make sure the mechanisms work none less than EXCELLENT!

With the launch of the iPad, do you see the possibility for expanding your your games into the digital world?

Our core business consists of unplugged board games and I guess we’ll stick to that. That’s what we’re good at. But if other parties that are good at creating digital copies of our games are interested in making it, they can always contact us.

What are your plans for the future development of ? White Goblin Games?

Like I said, we really want to expand further on an international scale. Things are going very well at the White Goblin Games’s headquarters, so the future looks really promising. And you know what? With upcoming titles like Inca Empire, Norenberc, Khan and the Rattus expansion Pied Piper, we’ve only just begun! We’ll announce a lot more quality games for 2011 later!

How and when did you get into gaming?

Almost every year, Santa brought a board game to our family. So I’ve been playing quite a lot since I was a kid. But the board game virus really got to me, when I first bought Reiner Knizia’s Ra, followed by The Settlers. Yes, this game also paved my way in the world of board gaming…

What type of games do you like to play? Any particular favourites? Any games or game types that you dislike?

I’m an omnivore when it comes to boardgames. I like small card games, that don’t last longer than a quarter, but I also enjoy playing War of the Rings for 6 hours! And everything in between, as long as it’s fun to play! That’s the aim of boardgames, in my opinion: to have fun with friends and family. To have a good time. Favorites of mine include Torres, Pandemic, Lord of the Rings, Rattus, Ghost Stories and Dominion. Hmmm, that’s three cooperative games! Will we release a cooperative game in the future? Might be!

Likes and dislikes in regards to mechanics, theme?

Like I said, I’m an omnivore. I play fantasy games, historical games, sci-fi themed games, et cetera. And everything in between. Of course, some themes are easier to market than other themes, but I personally don’t have a preference. I really like mechanics like Yinsh has. It’s an abstract game and the player that is doing best and most likely the one to win, will automatically get a disadvantage during the game. Also Martin Wallace’s Tinners’ Trail – which we also released here in the Netherlands and Belgium – has some great mechanics: don’t worry if you’re not doing that well in the first round… you can easily make up for it in later rounds!

Tell us where we can meet you this year. Attending any upcoming conventions?

We’ll be at Spiel 2010 for four days long, demonstrating our new titles. Come by and say hi!

I understand that you will be attending Essen. Any particular plans for launching new games?

We’ve just started taking pre-orders on our website. You can purchase our games at reduced prices and with exclusive game bonuses (as long as supplies last) through our website or at Spiel 2010. I really like the game bonus for Rattus Pied Piper, which consists of the characters Robin Hood, Merlin, Joan of Arc and Dracula! The game bonus for Khan makes the game a little more tactical, which is nice of course!

What is your view of the boardgaming scene here in Holland? How does the scene in Holland compare to the UK?

Since the release of The Settlers the boardgaming scene in Holland is quite good. I don’t know how it compares to the scene in the UK, to be honest with you, but there’s some serious business over here. However, we’re focusing more on the international markets these days, although Holland and Belgium still are very important to us.

What would you like to see done which could help board gaming become more mainstream amongst the public?

The constitution has to prohibit people from playing games like Ludo, the Game of the Goose and Monopoly J

Okay, it’s our legacy and without games like these, there probably never might have been board games like ours in the first place. But if we prohibit playing these games, people are forced to trying something different, and they’ll soon find out the board gaming scene has so much more to offer than just throwing a dice 🙂

Thanks very much Bart!

For more information about White Goblin Games – http://www.whitegoblingames.nl/

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