The Unsung Heroes of Gaming

When it comes to board games, there are mainly two types of people that get all the glory: the designers and the artists. It’s quite easy to remember them, as their names often appear on the game boxes. Today, I’d like to talk about people essential to crafting a successful board game, who never see their names in the spotlight.

It’s hard to be absolutely objective when it comes to assessing whether a game is simply good or bad. Some like resource conversion, others are most happy with tactical movement and dice-based combat. There is, however, one thing that is common for pretty much every gamer: you want to be able to play the game if any experiences and opinions are to be had.

Learning a new game is often a bit like learning a language. Game elements communicate their functions in a variety of ways: through shapes, symbols and colours. The ease with which we learn that the blue card with two yellow circles is an action with a cost of two coins depends almost solely on the person who built it for the final product.

So, if you haven’t guessed it yet, the titular Unsung Heroes are the graphic designers – the people who pore long hours into translating abstract game concepts into game elements. In essence, they are the people who create the language used by the game to communicate with the end user.

We often spend time looking at great game art. We discuss it, some of us recognize their favourite illustrators, and even tend to factor their work in when deciding upon making a game purchase. Yet, we never give a second look to the hard work of graphic designers, and if we do, it’s mostly when something went wrong with what they did. When it’s all smooth, we simply take it for granted.

Now, it’s time to give them a bit of love they so much deserve, and I will start from one that is our own. So, say hello to Agnieszka:

Agnieszka and Cerwa, aka the NSKN Dog

You may know her as a co-designer of Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Progress: Evolution of Technology, but she is also the person behind the final look of all our games. Whenever you take a quick glance at an Exodus action card, and simply know what it does, remember that it’s because of her.

Generally, whenever you look at any game element from any game, remember that the less time you spend figuring how it works, the better the job the graphic designer did. For without these unsung heroes of gaming, board gaming would have not become what it is in this digital age we live in.

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