Laureato in Giurisprudenza, è giornalista freelance da sempre; scrive di tecnologia, design, economia, scienze, videogame, cinema. Collabora con quotidiani e periodici tra cui Focus, L’Espresso, La Stampa, Sport Week e Ciak. Ever since graduating in Law he has worked as a freelance journalist; he writes about technology, design, economics, the sciences, videogames and the cinema. He contributes to newspapers and periodicals, including Focus, L’Espresso, La Stampa, Sport Week and Ciak.
Board games are back in fashion – with various smart new versions now on the market. Some are inspired by movies and TV series, and are aimed at a design-oriented group of adults. One of these is Fuorisalone, a game developed by Studiolabo that takes its inspiration from the mutliple sites used for Milan’s annual Furniture Fair
“There are so many interesting things happening at the Fuorisalone and it is not always easy to get to them because moving around town can be complicated.” This is how Cristian Confalonieri, creative head of Studiolabo, who for some time now has followed the Brera Design District (one of the big exhibition circuits in the city during Design Week), describes as the inspiration behind Fuorisalone, a board game that celebrates the design and architecture happening held in Milan, this year, from 17 to 22 April. “We tried to recreate the frenetic atmosphere of those days with a game for four payers on a board that reproduces the 68 main Design Week locations. The aim is to get to them at the exact time the event is taking place, which is no easy matter. Those who manage to do so win design icon cards, such as the P40 armchair or the Panton chair, and they are awarded points. The player who gets the most points wins the game.” The reason why the Milan studio decided to make this product in collaboration with Cranio Creations (the game will be on sale for 30 euros during and after the week of the fair) is because a board game is also a design item. “This is a genre that designers have always snubbed,” Confalonieri continues, “but actually it presents the same problems as other work of design. We found it interesting to try to tackle the complexities involved here and transfer ideas to the mechanics of the game.” When videogames came out in the 1980s board games fell out of favour but recently there has been something of a revival. “There are no official figures,” says Spartaco Albertarelli, who over the last 30 years or so has created famous games like Kaleidos. “But just look at all the new games coming out. Last year there were about 3,000. Their success is due to events like Lucca Comics & Games and the Essen Fair, but also to the fact that the target has changed over time. Games used to be designed for families, now they’re primarily for adults, as can be seen from the design of the boxes, which were once cumbersome things kept
in bedrooms, but are now more streamlined and attractive, so they look nice on a bookcase in the living-room.” And as the users have changed, so too have the games. “Nobody really invents anything revolutionary in today’s world,” says Albertarelli, “as we see for example in Imagine, which features Munari’s Più e Meno transparent cards. We have the French to thank for this revival, who have drawn partly from strategy-focused German games involving hardly any risk and American ones, based more on the visual than on the structural.” One of the most innovative new games is Pandemic Legacy, in which players work towards a common goal as they develop a narrative and stories, making various choices and working towards a conclusion over a series of games. “These are inspired by videogames, TV series and movies,” Albertarelli explains, “because these are the kinds of experience the target audience is familiar with.” It took creator Rob Daviau (who tried the idea out with Risk: Legacy) some time to establish this new game design concept alongside more traditional games of strategy and roleplay, party games, collectable cards and the more recent escape rooms, places where the aim is to break out in a short time – and which exist as “real” places in many cities. The market has attracted a number of publishers, such as Editrice Giochi, Asmodee Italia, Oliphante, Giochi Uniti, DV Giochi and even Cranio Creations, and is linked to awards like Game of the Year and Goblin Magnifico, and there are many creators involved, including Andrea Angiolino and Leo Colovini in Italy, and Roberto Fraga and Bruno Cathala in France. Albertarelli believes that there is no linear route into the profession. You might just end up in it because of a brilliant idea (like the one Emiliano Sciarra had for Bang!, which became a world best seller). “Of course, game design – a subject now also taught at Milan Polytechnic, IULM and IED – will help create a new generation of game designers,” Confalonieri says. “And they are needed. Even if architectural elements (like the towers on Quarto,
the steps on Catch the Moon and the spheres on Abalone) are working their way into board games, the sector still doesn’t have a well-established graphic division. So, for Fuorisalone we worked with illustrator Silvia Gherra to come up with a map that could be hung up like a poster. As a novice investigating this world, though, I saw titles that were striking for their design, like Photosynthesis with its cardboard trees, and T.I.M.E Stories with a simple white box that looks like something made by Apple. It’s also interesting to see how the digital and analogue world are working alongside each other, with games like A Tale of Pirates, where you need an app to play.” Games are increasingly drawing on architecture and design. Dream Home, for example, appeals to furnishing enthusiasts, and dozens of other games have cities as their basic layout, like the recent La Boca and Santorini. As Albertarelli concludes “Cities are hotbeds of creativity. In real life they are visited and enjoyed for their beauty, in games they are evoked and recreated.”
La plancia del gioco da tavolo Fuorisalone è un progetto dell’illustratrice Silvia Gherra / The board of the game Fuorisalone is a work by the illustrator Silvia Gherra.