One of my long term projects has been creating a factory themed board game based on things I have learned during my time working for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. After creating a first draft of the game, I discussed the game with my colleagues who thought this would be a great Christmas gift to give all 3000 F&P New Zealand employees.
The concept of the game was loosely based around mechanics from a number of Worker Placement games (specifically Viticulture and Lords of Waterdeep). It began as generic Factory themed game which generic products such as “Wooden toy”, “plastic doll”, “smart watch” which formed the basis of a fun home project, with little intention of taking it any further except to see how far I could take it.
Once I had the rough outline of the game done (after about a year of tinkering), I was put in contact with the Internal Comms team to see if we could actually make this into a reality by converting it an F&P themed game for their 50th Anniversary. They loved the idea.
Final game is very different from the initial game concept pitched to the F&P team. Designing for corporate means there are a number of Stakeholders (Comms, Marketing Ops, F&P Exec, Families of the people used in the game). Everyone has their own opinion about what the game should look like and play like. We had to weigh up complexity, target age, branding, focus on Patients Treated over making money etc.
The earliest prototypes were printed on cardboard and cut to size. I printed hundreds of cards over multiple iterations. Once we had the design at a point we were happy with, we then got our prototype printed by the manufacturer.
To ensure the game was A) Fun for F&P employees and non F&P employees, and B) Fair and Balanced, we run plenty of play testing sessions. This was done with a variety of board game groups around the company and also with some families and friends outside the company.
Working with the Manufacturer
Most board game designers will work with a Publisher. The publisher will handle artwork, manufacturability and distribution/sales. We did not need support in any of those areas so chose to work directly with the manufacturer which ensured we came under budget. The manufacturer I chose was based in Shanghai, China and were a delight to deal with.
The first step was get the game quoted. All required items were identified and put into a Bill of Materials (Just like any other product we make). Once the quote was accepted, we purchased a “digital sample”, which is close to production sample, but not made under normal production conditions.
After reviewing the digital sample and making minor tweaks, we requested the “production sample” to ensure everything was as we expected. On acceptance of the production sample, full production could begin.
The final product
We received the final shipment about a week before the 2019 Christmas break, so thankfully we met our deadline. Of all the 3000 copies distributed, we only had one complaint of an incorrect part, so I think the manufacturer did well. The printing and materials we very high quality, equivalent to any other mass manufactured board game.
Reception of the game was largely positive. Some constructive feedback was the game was slightly too complicated for general non-gaming audiences, but once they spend the time to understand the rules, it is enjoyable for F&P and non F&P employees. For experienced gamers, there were some balance issues with some of the cards.
Almost 12 months later, 3minuteboardgames included a review of the game in a video titled “12 Obscure board games reviewed“, listing the Fisher & Paykel Healthcare game as #1 (due to rarity, not quality). This prompted a huge wave of interest from people over the world, all looking for a copy of the game.
Try it out
After release, I remade the game on Tabletopia, which is an online board game simulator. Had I known about this tool prior to release, this would have been a very handy method of play-testing.
Also, there is an entry on Board Game Geek.