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Bēhance

The Great Maritime Silk Route Race

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  • When was the last time you played a board game?
    By Norman Lai

    These days, when someone talks about a game or board game, we tend to assume that they are referring to digital, social media or mobile apps. It’s almost a given in today’s modern and high-tech world.

    To keep with the times, even board games like Scrabble and Monopoly have been turned into apps.

    When we were asked to design and produce a board game for the Maritime Experiential Musuem (MEM), Splash literally went against the “tide” (pun intended).

    Un-predictably, our game would not consist of high tech or digital elements. Instead, we were going for a “back-to-basics, use-your-hand-to-spin, move-the-token-by-hand, choose-a-card-to-advance-your-play” kind of board game.

    The Brief
    First, the theme had to be based on the historical Maritime Silk Route and incorporate the concepts of voyage, maritime and navigation.

    Second, our game had to have all the elements of a traditional board game e.g. moving pieces, “chance” cards. More importantly, it had to have the fun and essence of one, like Game of Life or Monopoly.

    Finally, we had to inject historical facts and educational information into the game play.

    The game had to be visually appealing, easy to play and accommodate six players at any one time. The dimensions of the board would cover an entire tabletop measuring 2.2 x 1.4 metres. An important consideration was to ensure that the game pieces could not be easily “hijacked” and cause injury to visitors.

    An Amazing Race – How to Play
    The race takes place along the “The Maritime Silk Route” – a journey from Guangzhou to Muscat. Players can opt to start from Guangzhou or Muscat and finish the game at the opposite end.

    To win, players either have to be the fastest ship to reach the endpoint or the richest merchant with a total haul of 30 coins.

    If you dare to play, beware that weather events along the route can affect players’ “voyage”. To beat the competition, you have to learn to trade or obtain coins cargo from various ports or other ships and players. If you are lucky, you can speed up towards your destination and dodge unexpected events from the messages in the bottles, etc.

    Did I mention that you could also meet the seven Maritime Greats like Admiral Zhenghe, Sir James Brook and Christopher Columbus (just to name a few)? If you play the game right, they will bestow you with the special ability or ‘power’ to advance in your voyage.

    Fantastic Voyage
    Three months of research, game trials, handicraft work and seven actual-size mock-ups later … I suppose the team played the same board game enough times to last us 10 years.

    I want to thank the team for bringing back the fun and adventure to create this board game. It was a great opportunity to conjure up our “inner child” and we are proud of developing this handicraft with design in this modern digital era.

    A big shout out to the team who made it happen:

    Client – Ng Hsiao Feng (Maritime Experiential Museum)
    Account Servicing – Jerome Lau
    Research, Game play and Copywriting – Wong Shu Yun and Ng Hsiao Feng (Maritime Experiential Museum)
    All Illustrations – Lim Xiao Yun and Shakir Sazali
    Mock up and Game trials – Wong Shu Yun, Lim Xiao Yun, Shakir Sazali, Norman Lai, Koh Min Yu (Intern), Koh Zhi Wei (Intern) and MEM Team (Ng Hsiao Feng, Lili & Amelia)
    Graphic Design – Lim Xiao Yun, Shakir Sazali, Norman Lai, Koh Min Yu (Intern) & Claire Lim
    Art Direction, Project Management & Props/Materials “Sorcerer” – Norman Lai
    Production – Albert Lian & Team (Colourgraphic) and Moses Lee (Friend)
    Video – Stanley Yap, Zhao Yi and Ruth Tan. Special appearance by Koh Min Yu.

    Completed in Splash.
    Multiple owners.