Can you introduce yourself to those who might not know who you are?
Hello, my name is Kevin Kim.
I’m a boardgame producer and development/business consultant As a game producer, I’m CEO of Mandoo Games co., Ltd, the Korean boardgame publisher. We’ve published several games such as Rising 5, Slide Blast, Manhattan, Monster Mix and Ikonikus.
In 2017, Mandoo Games published a new version of the classic Manhattan. Can you tell us a little about this new edition?
Manhattan is one of my favorite German boardgames.
In 2015, I realized the game had almost disappeared worldwide, which I thought was sad. So I asked Mortiz of Hans im Glück if I could distribute the game. However, I wanted to renew the look because the German edition looks too old fashioned (actually it was). I explained my direction of renewal to Mortitz and after several emails was given the worldwide license.
Nowadays, boardgame culture is getting more popular worldwide, so I though the target audience should be families. And, with more new games released every year, I wanted to make the game look very modern – colorful and eye-catching, but without that 1990’s game image.
You also released Rising 5: Runes of Asteros this year. It’s a board game using an app which functions similarly to Mastermind. What do you think is the future of app integtration in games?
If the app completes the game or helps player to be immersed, that hybrid will be more popular.
I can say that the Rising 5 series will have apps in each edition. The next Rising 5 title will be introduced in 2019 – can you imagine what kind of wonderful technology we’ll be able to use in 2019?
The author Yoshiyuki suggested his original game Defense Three Kingdoms to another Korean company, but they showed me as they weren’t sure of it.
I was also quite doubtful at that time, because the original was solo for gamers. Actually, it was possible to have two players, but one would simply control the enemy cards.
Anyway, after several month thinking, I decided to take the risk. I acquired the game at Essen 2016 and decided to mainly change two things: the theme and a two player mode.
Before founding your own company you were the head of development at Korea Boardgames. Can you point out any games you have worked on that you are particularly proud of?
I was responsible for product development and international business.
Although the results in terms of business were not so big, the team gained very precious experience and self confidence. After I quit KBG, I contributed the development of the Fold-it lineup, which was also a great experience to have.
Mandoo Games also distributes games by other publishers in Korea. Which criteria do you use for selecting titles for the Korean market?
Mandoo Games focuses on casual strategy for families and gamers, 25-45 minutes playing time after 5 minutes rule explanation. And the game must have beautiful artwork and high quality components.
As someone who knows the Asian boardgame scene very well, what do you think is the reason for the recent hype for Asian boardgames? What are some of the new and interesting developments that you see coming from Korea, Japan and Taiwan in the next few years?
From the Korean market since 2007, boardgame culture is spreading impressively to China, Taiwan, Japan and South East Asia.
Naturally, as more Asians enjoy boardgames, more people want to design games. But the point of view on game mechanics, tone, lifestyle and historical background are very different from Europeans, so Asian-designed games seem very unique and fresh to European’s eye. It’s just like how we Asians have been so fascinated by German or French games.
Although there are successful Asian game designers already such as Seiji Kanai, Gary Kim and Hisashi Hayashi, the game design boom in Asia is just getting started. Japan opened this era with “mini”games like Love Letter or Oink Games. You can see many small card games mostly in Tokyo Game Market, but I can see more strategy games are coming.
Taiwanese game design is the most interesting to me, because I feel they have certainly jumped over several levels. When I visit the TBD (Taiwanese Boardgame Design) booth at the fair, I’m surprised at their quality – fresh game rules, themes and especially artworks and editing of the product.
Korean game designers are more focused on strategy games. You will see 3-4 very impressive strategy games in 2018 Essen by Korean and French publishers. And Yohan Goh, the designer of Fold-it and Yummy Yummy Pancake showed me several projects recently..
Oh my god, you can’t imagine what he is doing…He is a Korean Roberto Fraga. 🙂
What would be your advice for authors or publishers just starting in the board game industry?
Collaboration is very important. Find the right partners on planning, development, visual designs, production and business. Enjoy the adventure with the right partners.
Any new projects for Mandoo Games on the horizon?
I’ll announce for the first time our 2018 plans for NiceGameHub. 🙂
As a game studio, we’re working on four projects ahead of Summer 2018, in three kinds of boxes. For the big box (Rising 5, Manhattan size), we’re working on a unique strategy game designed by 3 Swiss authors: Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey and Sébastien Pauchon. The artworks will be created by a talented Polish artist.
For the middle box (SlideBlast size), we signed with a new Korean game designer. It’s a family game with fresh mechanic mix. We’ve decided to work with two young French artists.
We are also preparing a new game by Bruno Faidutti as a small box. The theme is crowd funding (SLP will love it!) and a famous Australian artist will contribute amazing artworks. Finally, one genius game from Martin Nedergaard Anderson will come in collaboration with Agsty, the graphic designer of Fold-it.
At the same time, we’re also working on the next Rising 5, again featuring an app, two projects from Korean designers, and two more collaborative projects planned for 2019.