Local pair makes playing board games fun and exciting again

Written by on July 1, 2016 in High Point, Local and National News - No comments

 

By Jonathan Luong

The Voice intern

Nowadays, most young people seem to be consumed by social media and electronic gaming. The public perception of board games is one of a box simply gathering dust in a forgotten cupboard or toy store. That’s where game designers Monte Cook and Shanna Germain come into the picture.

Above, Shanna Germain and Monte Cook celebrate the release of their game for kids, Numenera. It was launched through a Kickstarter campaign, whose funders donated more than $500,000.

Above, Shanna Germain and Monte Cook celebrate the release of their game for kids, Numenera. It was launched through a Kickstarter campaign, whose funders donated more than $500,000.

“We always say that our games have to compete with the puppies of the world,” Germain says. “If a family were in a room with one of our games, a puppy, and an iPad, they would have to find our game to be the most interesting thing.”

With the release of No Thank You, Evil from Monte Cook Games, founded in 2012, Cook and Germain have opened up a creative outlet for kids.

For Germain, her childhood was defined by the countless games that she was able to get her hands on, from Monopoly to Bunnies and Burrows, the latter which fueled her interest in playing games.

“I was always shy as a child, so board games gave me a chance to express myself within a certain set of rules,” she says.

At the age of six, she told her parents she wanted to be the famous suspense writer Stephen King, but it was not until experiencing a variety of jobs, from being a paramedic to a bartender, that she found the perfect opportunity with Cook.

“He shared Numenera, a game he had been creating, with me, and asked me if I wanted to help him with it.”

From there, what started out as a humble project launched through Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site, eventually landed the pair more than 4,600 backers who donated about $500,000 to bring the game from concept to family countertops. Numenera’s huge success convinced them to create Monte Cook Games, the company.

Columbia City resident James Walls says No Thank You, Evil is the go-to game for his three children, (l-r) Olivia, Sarah and Ethan. The board game, which debuted in March, involves make-believe, adventure and storytelling for children and their parents.

Columbia City resident James Walls says No Thank You, Evil is the go-to game for his three children, (l-r) Olivia, Sarah and Ethan. The board game, which debuted in March, involves make-believe, adventure and storytelling for children and their parents.

No Thank You, Evil, the latest release for the brand, for ages 5 and up, adds a unique twist in role-playing. As is typical for games of the genre, players assume different characters and work together to solve objectives, such as embarking on a rescue mission or defeating a group of enemies. The free range of action, however, is what makes the game highly accessible for a variety of audiences.

“We worked with kids with dyslexia, those on the autism spectrum, and those with mobility issues when we were testing out the game,” Germain says. “We wanted to ensure that kids could have all the options they wanted, and that we would reward them for making different choices. In taking on issues, this system encourages different perspectives to solve problems. If one of the goals is to fight a monster, one of the players might suggest to fight it, but another person might want to sing the monster to sleep, or engage in a conversation with it.”

She adds that players don’t have to resort to anything they don’t want to do, which promotes creative and unique solutions. As such, Germain and Cook think the game will bring out the inner child of every player, regardless of age.

Editor’s note: The Voice thanks Intern Jonathan Luong for his many contributions during the past year, and wishes him a bright future as he enters the University of Washington this fall.

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