For those who don’t know, could you explain a little about your work and previous games?
I work in accounting during the day and design games as a night job. I’m based in Japan and sell games usually at Tokyo Game Market by myself or at Japanese retail stores via distributors.
How did you first get involved with the board game community?
Before I met board games, I was fond of video games and CCGs. In 2005, I found Runebound 2nd Edition by chance and bought it, which was my first encounter with the board game industry.
At first I played American board games such as FFG‘s, but I learned that Germany is the home of modern board game designs and began to dig through past masterpieces. Board games became my favorite hobby soon.
While playing board games, I remembered making board games with pencils and notes when I was a child. At the same time, I learned about Tokyo Game Market. Back in those days, it was a small event, and people sold home-made games in zip bags.
I thought I could do it and started designing.
I believe your design career began with Dungeon of Mandom. Can you tell us about your design process for this game?
I designed Vorpals in 2011. It was very successful as a work of a rookie designer, though only in Japan. After that, in 2013, I thought I would like to go to Tokyo Game Market again, but for that I had some travel costs.
So, in order to cover the cost, I decided to make a small game and sell 100 copies at 500 yen (about 5 dollars) each. I designed a game in two weeks and named it Dungeon of Mandom. The original concept of the game was Mamma Mia! where players make a dungeon instead of a pizza.
Paper Tales has been a great hit. What was your focus and goal when designing the expansion?
Thanks! As I said, Paper Tales was originally published as Vorpals in Japan in 2011. I’m very happy to see the game as accepted in the world as it was.
The expansion, Beyond the Gates, was designed with the aim of increasing the replayability primarily. The new buildings open up new strategies, and new units allow players to develop their kingdom in different ways.
The solo play rule was designed in response to the request from the publisher. Since I don’t play solo board games usually, I think that I would not have started it from myself. However, I found it was fun to design, and the result was very good.
This is one example of the benefits of working with a publisher.
We’re very interested in the Japanese tabletop community. How have you noticed this scene change and develop over the years?
I think this development thanks to some enthusiasists in Japan. They introduced board games to Japan, started importing and selling, began designing by themselves and made Tokyo Game Market. Today, so many Japanese play board games, and some of them even design.
We must thank the ardent pioneers.
But still in Japan, overseas games are the mainstream, and Japanese games are considered to be a sidestream by many people. The majority of Japanese designers think their goal is to have their work published by overseas publishers. I hope that Japanese games and publishers become a bigger presence in the board game world.
What can we expect from your in 2018? Any new projects?
Currently I’m working of a few projects, but there are no concrete schedules yet.
As always, my new games will be sold only in Japan at first, and go worldwide if any publisher shows interest.