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Local Designer Series: Xeo Lye, Designer of Wongamania

Local Designer Series: Xeo Lye, Designer of Wongamania

Life is a big opportunity waiting to be lived and that is what Xeo Lye, the creator of Wongamania did. After many practical reasons, one of which even almost killed him! Xeo finally put one of his designs into print and started a company called Capital Gains Studio Pte Ltd. We asked him a few questions about his experience in designing boardgames.

"Ideas are cheap. Execution is the key."

1. Welcome to this designer series of articles. So if you  would be so kind as to introduce and tell our audience about yourself and your history in boardgame design?

My love of tabletop games goes back to my childhood where I played games such as Escape from Atlantis, Chinese chess, etc. Some of my friends and I are also avid gamers of several modern designer boardgames such as Magic: the Gathering, Citadels, Carcassonne, etc. Beyond gaming, I am also a professional money manager and am often invited to give talks on economics and financial concepts. As to how the inspiration to start designing games began, I do have a more detailed answer on my blog but in summary.  it started when I started to use games to explain financial concepts during my talks which got a much better response than the usual dull lecture format.  From there, I came up with the concept of Wongamania and designed a prototype to gauge the response to the game. 

2. What is the biggest challenge of making a boardgame in Singapore?

When I first started in 2013, there were many challenges. The Singapore’s boardgame design industry was in decline. For example, when we reached out to some designers, we did not manage to get any responses. Online resources and guides pertaining to boardgame manufacturing and design by default assumed you are in the United States. There was also many new things I had to learn from scratch. Such as figuring out issues like what cardboard to use, how to apply for bar codes, etc. All to satisfy a limited print run of 300 sets of my game.

All these issues aside, the main challenge I feel is that the eco-system to support board game designers is very weak in Singapore. This is unlike in Taiwan where they have a strong community of publishers and designers that come together to share resources, playtest each other designs and promote Taiwanese game designs. So this is why when experienced game designers like Dominic came back from U.S. to Singapore to share his knowledge and experiences, I feel we gained a lot as a community in terms of knowledge.  

3. What kind of game would you recommend for a first-time designer? For example, card or boardgame, etc.

It depends on your budget, experience and target audience. The safest bet is, of course a card game which is relatively cheaper to manufacture and hence has less risk. It is also usually easier to market a card game to the mass market. However, that shouldn’t stop first time designers from designing a heavy Euro style game which has more risk but also a higher reward. 

4. From your experience, what is your biggest piece of practical advice for aspiring boardgame designers?

Ideas are cheap. Execution is the key.

5. What is the hardest part of the production process of making a boardgame? Example, looking for a supplier, printer for the game, etc. 

We have worked with two manufacturers so far and have done three print runs and we had different experiences for both. Both manufacturers have resulted in errors or component sorting errors which has led to weeks of delays. These delays then affected everything down the timeline such as a disrupted marketing schedule and unhappy customers due to late game deliveries.  

(Sourced from Xeolyenomics, The Game of Economics)



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