Malaysia’s very own Boardgame Designers community ended last year with a bang, hosting a 2-day showcase event for locally designed boardgames in their GammaWave Weekend held at RexKL. Here’s a recap from our visit on Day One.
Back in 2009 (gosh that’s now 10 years ago!) I’d the privilege of catching up with Nate Scheidler from the Chicago Boardgame Designers Meetup group when he was visiting KL.
As we sat down for a game of BRASS, Nate shared stories of the Chicago Boardgame Design scene, how the designers met weekly to do playtests and reviewed each other’s designs. I remembered back then wondering when would Malaysia have her own similar Boardgame Designers community. Hah!
The year 2009 were the early years of the boardgame industry in Malaysia. There were only one active boardgame cafe then (ie. Mage Cafe in Damansara Jaya) with the two FIRST boardgame cafes in Malaysia (Third Dimension in Penang and Settler’s Cafe in Damansara Jaya) both opened in 2006 but having closed by 2009. Then again we did have that fabulous GAMECON1 in 2005!
Flash forward 10 years, Malaysia is now blessed with a broad boardgame community and a thriving boardgame retail market, both good signs of the growth of our local boardgame scene. In my opinion, another equally important marker is having an active boardgame designer community. The last marker is arguably more significant as it can tell us about the longer term sustainability of our boardgame community, beyond just playing & re-selling games from abroad. With an active and strong boardgame design community, Malaysia can start to build and realize her own identity in the global boardgame scene.
It is with this perspective that I’m impressed with the work done by Yi Jian / Nicholas and their team in building up the TTGDMY (Tabletop Game Designers of Malaysia) to what it is today. It’s still early days for the fledging TTGDMY group but we can now happily (and proudly) say Malaysia has her own boardgame designers community!
TTGDMY Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TTGDMY/
This is not just a bunch of ppl gathering once-in-a-while to talk about boardgame designs, play one or two samples, etc. There is organization within their group, a strong sense of purpose and a clear mission. Yes they are still mostly part-timers (we all still need to work for a living kan?) but that did not stop them from getting organized about this endeavor.
With their well articulated series of AlphaMeets, BetaTests, GammaWaves, and DeltaChats, they have a clear plan of attack to grow our local boardgame design scene. If you are a boardgame designer – or harbor some form of boardgame design in your bucket list – do get yourself into this group. Ten years ago, local designers operated in silos. Today local designers are blessed to have a strong supportive community in TTGDMY.
Now I await their Epsilon plans 😛
Okay enough blurb about TTGDMY. The real reason I wrote this is to share Boardgamecafe.net’s visit to a 2-day showcase of Malaysian-made games organized by TTGDMY last Dec at RexKL, where more than 10 locally designed and produced games were available for anyone to play – and of course buy!
What? There are more than 10 locally designed games?
Eh if this is NEWS to you then I suggest you read thru this article and then make a beeline to either buy one of these games (from us of course hehe) or check out the next TTGDMY event to playtest them (hint: there’s one scheduled for this Saturday).
TTGDMY name events such as this their “GammaWaves“, which is where they reach out to the mass market with the end-products of local designers. You won’t get to see many GammaWaves in a year at least not in the still-early days of the group but as our local boardgame design scene matures, I reckon we could see GammaWaves as a recurring event in our local boardgame calendar.
About the venue: REXKLSAYS: https://says.com/my/lifestyle/an-iconic-kl-cinema-that-burned-down-is-being-turned-into-a-creative-space-for-businesses
The choice of venue is an intriguing one. RexKL – for those who are old enough (like me, cough cough) and grew up in KL, it’s an iconic landmark in the heart of KL itself.
This showcase event was held over one of the weekends in Dec – and since Boardgamecafe.net was also hosting an outreach meetup day at Zelafa S’mart on that same Sunday, we only have Saturday to make our visit.
Siv was halfway in his talk about Wargaming cross-playing with Roleplaying when we arrived, which was part of a series of talks by local designers and community builders with the intention of sharing their knowledge and experiences around.
But we are here for the games, so a quick tour of the who’s who and what’s on play of the local boardgame scenes….
If you are looking for a fun yet educational game to get your kids to get better at mathematics, check out Mike’s MATH GENIUS.
About MATH GENIUSBoardgamegeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/265062/math-genius
Math Genius is a tile-based color and shape [For color blind person] matching game for 2 to 4 players, designed by Mike Ooi and published by Empire Game. Math Genius game mechanism shares some characteristics with the games “Qwrikles” and “Scrabble”, It’s combination of both game mechanism.
Buy here (BGC): https://boardgamecafe.biz/shopexd.asp?id=2644&bc=no
Surely you would expect to see KAKI LIMA here, no? Choon Ean is literally everywhere there’s any local boardgame events with her tireless effort to promote not just her own Kaki Lima, but a bunch of other locally designed games.
About KAKI LIMABoardgamegeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/278886/kaki-lima
A light strategy game inspired by walking around Penang’s George Town, Kaki Lima is about pedestrians navigating their way through a grid of five-foot ways. Players gain victory points when their pedestrians reach places on their task lists and bonus exploration cards, when they clear blocked paths, and when they meet up with other pedestrians.
Buy here (BGC): https://boardgamecafe.biz/shopexd.asp?id=2666&bc=no
Developed over 2 year, RIMBA is a memory matching card game that aims to promote more awareness and discussion about nature & conservation in particular our rainforests.
About RIMBAFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1775567805804391/
RIMBA was developed over 2 years, we collaborated with experts from several conversation NGOs who verified facts and images we produced. RIMBA the card game is a dedicated to raise environmental empathy and build shared ownership between urban and rural Malaysia of our rainforest.
Buy here (Kinokuniya): https://malaysia.kinokuniya.com/RIMBA_the_Card_Game/bw/9789671670705
The Lepak Game
Do you enjoy Cards Against Humanity and looking for something with a Malaysian flavour? THE LEPAK GAME it is. 🙂
About THE LEPAK GAMEBoardgamegeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/217505/lepak-game
If you are looking to have a blast with friends at your next lepak or yum cha session, we’ve got just the thing for you. Rojak Culture is proud to bring you The Lepak Game, Malaysia’s first party game.
The Lepak Game contains the essence of Malaysia in a deck of cards, guaranteed to spark some serious Malaysian-style fun! It’s a simple word-matching game that is easy to play with no right or wrong answer. All you have to do is match and pick the most Malaysian response. You’ll find yourself laughing at inside jokes or reminiscing a truly Malaysian experience with other players.
Buy here (BGC):
Drama Pukul 7
Everyone’s a DRAMA nowadays, eh? First seen by us at last year’s BogaCON (UTAR), everyone I spoke with who has tried/played the game told me it’s one very atmospheric and fun game that exudes loads of local drama.
About DRAMA PUKUL 7Boardgamegeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/284094/drama-pukul-7
Drama Pukul 7 is a for 2-6 players card game. The game is a competitive game set in a typical Malaysian/Malay soap opera or drama tv show where all the player compete among themselves by shaming (attack) other player to completely destroy each other’s Dignity/Face Value (HP).
Buy here (BGC): https://boardgamecafe.biz/shopexd.asp?id=2800&bc=no
The Cikgu Life
We all have our own Cikgu stories, don’t we? But what about living the life of a cikgu? Now you can do so with THE CIKGU LIFE game which is designed by a group of teachers.
About THE CIKGU LIFEFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecikgulife/
The Cikgu Life is a tabletop game which aims at capturing the everyday life of a Malaysian cikgu- in all its glory and struggles! Catch your students cheating, stay up late to mark exam papers, and celebrate a day off from school when Malaysia wins sports! Play it with a group of 3 to 5 friends or (we dare you!) your old school teacher. You’ll find yourself reminiscing about your teachers and our school days. Best played with a hint of nostalgia.
Buy here (BGC): https://boardgamecafe.biz/shopexd.asp?id=2345&bc=no
Get creative (or stuff to do when you don’t want to play board games)
Beside lining up all the local board games for you to sample, the event also provide other distractions to keep you – and your young ones if you brought the kids along – occupied in-between those gaming sessions.
KAKI LIMA has an activity booth where you get to flex your creative muscles by helping to design the next Kaki Lima card. I’d wanted to chat with their illustrator/artist Charis Loke who’s frequently seen in this booth but missed that!
Instead of having a booth to showcase his VAGRANT DASH (or maybe he did on Day Two?), Hwa Siang set up a booth to allow wanna-be miniature painters to try their hands on painting a Vagrant Dash miniature tank.
Hear from the Designers
There was also a series of 15 min talks by the local designers / community builders about the various aspects of game design and their experiences/journey. #spongemodeon
Other stuff here and there
Besides soaking in the playtest and showcase atmosphere, this was also a good time for me to have some face-time catch-up with the designers and community builders, so often neglected in this Facebook-era.
I was pleased to see Jimmy Yeoh again – who’s here to give a talk on “Math Magic: Educational Boardgaming since 1980s”. We first met in 2005’s GAMECON1 and it has been years since we kept in touch. His MATH MAGIC is one of the pioneers of locally designed board games in Malaysia. I’m sure the designer community can benefit from his “war stories”. 😛
Special mention must go to Felix (of PASARAYA MANAGER) who came to the event wearing one of our BGC Retreat t-shirts! #thankyouforyoursupport
That t-shirt was from our 2013 Retreat which is one of our most memorable Retreats (read the eventrep here). We do this every December (hint hint).
Apology though (to Felix) that I didn’t get to take any pics of his PASARAYA MANAGER as he was only setting up his booth on Day 2. Next time then, mate. 😛
OMG! How did I miss this?
If you missed this GammaWave event and would like to know when’s the next such event, you are in luck! LOCCO in partnership with TTGDMY (who else la) is running another showcase of local board games this coming Sat. Themed as Back to School, their GAME ON LAH! event will be held from 3pm till 9pm on Sat 15/2/20 at MATIC (Jalan Ampang).
Unfortunately we’re hosting our own 18xx Hot Saturday game day on the same day so won’t be able to make it to show our support. Moral support aje la. 😛
Overall it has been an awesome experience for our first GammaWave event. Rachel certainly had a good time here and I’m sure she’ll be looking forward to attend the next GammeWave!
Make your February an awesome gaming month!
For more pictures from this GammaWave event, check out our Flickr album.
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