Shem’s game receives big nomination
Waikanae designer Shem Phillips never thought he would be up for the board game equivalent of an Oscar.
Phillips’ game Raiders of the North Sea’s German counterpart Rauber der Nordsee is nominated for a 2017 Spiel des Jahres award in the category Kennerspiel des Jahres, roughly translated to connoisseur-gamer game of the year.
The annual awards, which have been around since 1978, are held in Berlin this month and recognise excellence in board and card game design.
Receiving an award is considered the pinnacle of success for creators.
Phillips says being one of only three nominees in his category out of hundreds of applicants is an honour.
‘‘Myself and one of the designers for the other games, this is our first-ever nomination and on the international scene we are kind of nobodies. You don’t have to be in the industry for years and years, it gives everyone a chance.
‘‘The nomination itself is huge. It’s a win-win either way really.’’
Phillips hopes his nomination will be encouraging for other New Zealand designers and the country’s gaming community in general.
His game, which when played on its own can host up to four players, is the second of three in Phillips’ North Sea saga, and sees gamers playing as Viking warriors seeking to impress the chieftain by raiding various settlements.
Phillips says he commissioned independent artist Mihajlo Dimitrievski to illustrate the game, then released it in 2015 through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter under his publishing company Garphill Games.
‘‘Traditionally you have to take it to a convention then get it signed by a publisher which is quite difficult. With Kickstarter you can just sell directly to your customers.’’
His North Sea trilogy has proved so popular that it has already produced two expansions which enable up to six players to participate at once.
Phillips began designing in his spare time in 2007, and continued to pursue the hobby through other jobs at McDonald’s and a garment printing shop.
At the start of this year he began designing fulltime out of his Kapiti home, a decision he says he is glad to have made.
At the end of last year growth started to take off, Phillips says.
‘‘I wouldn’t be able to do this now if I was still working fulltime. The workload has just skyrocketed.’’
He isn’t sure what his next project will be, but is keen to make more games.
‘‘I may look at doing other trilogies or just focus on fresh game concepts.
‘‘I’ve got to follow whatever design stuff starts flowing out really. It’s just a creative outlet like music or writing. It’s another way to get the creative stuff flowing.’’
Shem Phillips is up for a Kennerspiel des Jahres award for his board game Raiders of the North Sea.