DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Behrooz Shahriari and In a Bind

It's the game that will test even the most practiced contortionists. Behrooz Shahriari discusses why he believes In a Bind will have game fans falling over themselves.
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I have been in love with games of all sorts for as long as I can remember.

Since I was old enough to think about what career I wanted, I knew it had to involve making games.

Decades later, I am on the verge of publishing my first physical game: In A Bind (www.inabindgame.com), a party game of physical constraints.

I came to London in 2012. The first things I looked for were a board gaming club and a pole-dancing school (if you want to train together, give me a shout!).

To my excitement, when searching for board gaming clubs, I discovered Playtest UK.

The catalyst was Danish Frank. He had a system for ensuring his silly game ended in a reasonable timeframe: the end of the deck triggered the end of the game. I was interested to use this idea and with his blessing I began a project inspired directly by his.

My first prototype was a complicated mess, allowing you to 'enchant' any player, forcing them to play or draw extra cards, negative enchantments generally giving points, players being eliminated by having too many or too few cards in hand, and so it went, until the end was triggered with the person with the most points winning.

One somewhat incongruous card essentially forced a player to stand.

Ben Neumann suggested that I focus - either embrace physical challenges or forego them entirely. That one suggestion, more than any other, entirely shaped the game.

As I continued to test the game, points - as a concept - were eliminated. Cards were simplified. The focus turned towards physical challenges that combine for an exponentially increased difficulty.

Creating this game was probably a natural extension of my personality.

I was planning to use Kickstarter to fund the game. To me, it really was a no-brainer. If it didn't reach the target, I would only lose the time and effort and that would translate into some lessons learned.

On the other hand, a realistic scenario seemed to be some publicity, a deadline to motivate me and some money to invest in production. Of course, I had wild dreams of 'going viral' and selling thousands of copies.

I picked a 58 day campaign, hoping that I may gain some traction. Messaged relative strangers who had previously enjoyed the game. Demoed at various boardgame clubs and cafes. Organised a party in Edinburgh, mixing three rounds of games with musical performances. Two days, I walked around London with friends, encouraging strangers to give the game a try.

I filmed and edited much of this, publishing 16 Youtube videos, one of which became Boardgamegeek's 'video of the week'.

I only had one review, but it was spectacularly positive.

Despite my efforts, on the penultimate day I was still below £2,000, with a £2,700 target. It was here that I learned the value of direct messaging and pester power.

Of course I had mentioned the game on Facebook, but I had only messaged about four of my friends about it. On that final day, I spent maybe 14 hours messaging as many people as I could, asking them to have a look, buy a copy if they felt they'd enjoy it, and spread the word in any case.

On that final day, I raised £999 - over 50 per cent of what I'd raised in the previous 57 days!

This, along with a cash injection from my own savings, will allow me to print 1,000 copies of both decks to begin with. Sadly, this does mean that news of the game hasn't travelled very far.

For now, my focus is on production. Pictures are being drawn and the digital files are still to be created. I hope that the game reaches all my backers in February. Since the Kickstarter finished, any marketing done has been almost accidental.

The game has also been demoed at Dragonmeet; blind playtesting to check the rule book's functionality.

I observed the games, then gave some privacy for them to fill in feedback forms. For 'fun', the game received an 8.6/10 average. I received e-mails to contact players once the game is ready, so while my main goal was to improve the final game manual, the game seems to be attracting attention.

Doubtless, I'll make mistakes along the way. Nothing is perfect and I am a novice. But I have faith in my ability to learn and believe that the quality of the game will make this first attempt slightly easier.

I know, whatever happens, the work will be hard, but exciting.

I'm in love.

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