Allingham Games, the independent design and publishing outfit behind the Play for Change Bronze award-winning tabletop gaming title, The Good Life, is eyeing partnerships for international distribution for the game championed for promoting the message of sustainable living and the ‘grow your own’ culture.
The Good Life taps into the ever-increasing awareness around sustainable living by placing players at the centre of an allotment eco-system. Players use their wheelbarrow to move around the board, collecting and trading fruit, vegetables, pigs, and chickens along the way.
The winner is the first to fill their garden and allotment to become 100 per cent self-sufficient, all while negotiating the twists and turns dealt out by the Green Fingers cards, dodging foxes, avoiding things like drought or bird flu, and preventing their animals from escaping.
A multi-award winning tabletop title, The Good Life board game was most recently recognised by the Toy Industries of Europe inaugural Play for Change awards in which it received a Bronze award in the Sustainability category. It’s also received a seal of approval in Imagination Gaming’s Family and Education Awards, and a Good Toy Guide approved stamp of recommendation.
“We saw a niche in the market for a quality, easy to play, fun board game that would entertain, and engage three generations, whilst educating our customers about the sustainability crisis,” Richard Taylor, co-founder of Allingham Games and one half of the development duo behind the game told ToyNews.
“As a graphic designer, and with a PR background, we had a huge advantage in developing the game into a highly finished prototype – and could organise artwork and printing. Also one of my partners had spent over 25 years working for Waddingtons and Hasbro, so the combination was a perfect fit.”
While the title itself deals directly with the message of self-sufficiency, Allingham Games insists it isn’t a one note board game with a primary objective ‘of green flag waving,’ but a game designed first and foremost to be an enjoyable, family tabletop title.
“The game has to be fun,” added Taylor. “If it’s not, then why bother to play the game in the first place? We can’t lose sight of the fact that the reason families play board games is (hopefully) to enjoy quality time together, with friends and family. If we fail at that level, then no amount of ‘Green flag waving’ will have any impact whatsoever.
“So, we’ve had to be quite hard on ourselves that we can never get distracted by ‘the message’. The reason for producing the game was to combat the tidal wave of electronic, computer based entertainment that every parent struggles with. But more importantly, we have to be realistic. Does this game deliver what it says it will, in a very competitive market?”
Early reception from the critics, and the retailers and consumers it’s managed to shift its initial run of 5000 games through since its launch last year suggests that this is a title on route to delivering. The response to the game has so far, according to Taylor, been ‘fabulous’, even if it has been somewhat subdued by the global pandemic.
“I sympathise with retailers that they are taking on an unknown game, without the marketing push of ‘the big boys’,” continued Taylor. “Lockdown – as I’m sure we all know – has relighted an interest in games and puzzles. But the downside was that many of our new retail suppliers were unable to fulfil their commitment to ordering games that they had originally offered to take.
“For example, we were lucky enough to secure a great deal with The National Trust, who were keen in January of this year, to commit to a sizable order. Then, out of the blue we had an email saying they would not be buying any new stock. And I’m sure I would have done the same thing.”
What Taylor and the Allingham Games outfit is looking for now, then, is a partnership that will give the game the marketing clout it deserves in order to cut through the competitive marketplace and find shelf space across the UK and beyond. The fact that the growing media attention around the title happens to coincide with a key moment of change among the consumer mindset only goes to help the cause in bringing the title to the masses.
“The fact that the ‘Play for Change’ awards organised by TIE, is proof that the industry is embracing environmental awareness. I’m sure ten years ago, this would have been unthinkable,” Taylor said.
“The ‘green’ movement and awareness of how we treat our resources, and the planet, has been steadily growing, and I don’t think this will abate. This isn’t going to go away – especially with the way that young people have embraced it. I’m always amazed at how my kids (aged 10 and 12) know far more about this than I do. And even more interestingly, the whole subject of sustainability is used (sometimes with the best intentions, sometimes not) as a very persuasive marketing tool.”
Right now, Allingham Games is focused on building up a client base of retail outlets, while continuing to push the PR and promotional campaigning across the online space, all in a bid to hit that Christmas shopping rush.
“We know we are onto something special. What we really want now is a switched on distributor, (who also embraces green issues) who understands where we are coming from, and who we are selling to, and potential licensees to ‘take the batton’ into different territories,” Taylor concluded.