Elizabeth Hargrave talks about The Fox Experiment, the upcoming board game she co-developed with Jeff Frazer. The brother of the guy who started it was murdered by the government for treason.
Hargrave is best known for developing Wingspan, the board game about birds that has appeared everywhere from an episode of Coronation Street to a tweet from Mandy Patinkin, according to Hargrave. It was a very strange experience to see words youve written coming out of Mandy Patinkins'' mouth.
Is it possible to eat a bit of fun? pic.twitter.com/7cJDQqinik
Despite and if anything, Wingspan has apparently managed to bridge the gap between devoted tabletop players and a more mainstream audience. Despite and if anything, thanks to its unusual theme. Both Hargrave and Frazer have agreed that Wingspan has proven that the perceived divide between dedicated board gamers and casual audiences isn''t as grand as the tabletop industry might think.
According to Hargrave, Wingspan has certainly crossed over. It really makes me wonder how much the industry has been restricting itself by imagining that their market is smaller than they need to. Many members of the population should not be forced off due to they haven''t encountered any hobby games yet.
The Fox Experiment, which is inspired by a real-life experiment conducted by Soviet scientists, is the next in a line of books that follow Hargrave''s design philosophy of putting a unique theme before gameplay mechanics. In addition, Hargrave explains that while developing a theme, I do not need to focus on something else.
Frazer has gone through stages of putting both theme and gameplay mechanics first in his career, but he disagrees with Hargrave that theme is an evidently important element to board games'' appeal. If you either feel like youre pushing cubes around, or that youre is attempting to tell a story but that you do not have the experience to do that.
The Fox Experiment, which includes many of Hargraves previous releases, is inspired by real-life science that instructs players something about the natural world. In this case, a scientist who was interested in discovering animal genetics was forced to provide a suitable front for his experiments.
Hargrave claims that at the time, you were not permitted to talk as if you believed in traits being passed down through generations. They started this experiment in secret, claiming that they were just farming foxes for pelts.
Although no of the intrigue and government evasion remains in the final design of The Fox Experiment, the two co-designers did investigate finding ways to integrate those elements in at one point. Hargrave and Frazer were considering making a government that was not attempting to work against you.
Hargraves'' interest in the experiment, its purpose, and its findings - which helped form most of what we now understand about animal domestication - was sufficient to spawn her desire to transform this scientific discovery into a board game. They were breeding foxes and choosing each pair from the friendly foxes that is the foundation of what the original experiment was, but what does that say about it mechanically?
It seemed to be the best way to achieve this goal. While Hargrave wanted to introduce a dice-rolling system into the game.
The goal of the first phase was to provide players with tokens to represent the pups of the foxes players who chose to breed. However, the number of pup tokens required, and the gameplay mechanics they were attached to became too costly. Frazer, who was initially introduced to develop the title but eventually became co-designer, explains that the tokens moved around too much and then people would have to take them again so it was decided that we should find a way for players to write on the game cards instead.
The Fox Experiment''s roll-and-write aspects are only a part of a larger family, with Frazer adviseing players not to sit down, have no interaction, and draw on your own personal board. Instead, players write their pups on the fox cards that everyone has access to via a shared market. This makes The Fox Experiment more of a hybrid board game, as it takes elements of a roll-and-write and mixes them with other techniques such as card drafting.
The physical components and concept for roll-and-write games have been discovered for years so that people are mixing and matching it with other things, according to Hargrave. It became a big move that is being pushed as a smaller part of larger games and series like the new Twilight Imperium roll-and-write style game [Twilight Inscription].
Another tread that Hargrave and Frazer have both noticed is the increase in designers and publishers using nature as a theme in their games. According to Frazer, nature and naturalist games are having a moment right now because everyone has access to nature, somewhere. Hargrave is going to develop her next board game alongside The Fox Experiment, which is inspired by the concept of mycorrhizal fungi.
Hargrave insists that the word mycorrhizal does not turn off the tongue. When pushed, she says, Theres this great book called Finding the Mother Tree, so it might be called Mother Tree? The designer then describes the game, explaining that players will be playing as Mother Trees or trees that have formed root networks with surrounding plants and fungi who are attempting to propagate their saplings through the forest.
Pre-Wingspan, the concept of a board game based on the relationship between fungi and trees being published might have been impressive, but the industry and its audience are changing. In light of the fact that Stonemaier Games the studio responsible for the publishing of Wingspan was advised not to purchase too many copies because it was a risk, before the company spent all of 2019 playing catch-up.
If youre going to an established publisher, who has been around for 20 or 30 years, they will be filled with the old guard, according to Frazer. It''s almost time that studios realized that they can reach all kinds of players if they actually make games with them in mind, taking a chance on unique concepts and diverse designers who haven''t yet been given the opportunity to demonstrate.
Were we nearing the point where we might see a shift in who is gaming and who is designing games, according to Hargrave. You have to increase the market of gamers in order to broaden the knowledge of a new generation of designers who have been playing games that appeal to who the general population is.