We’ve managed to scoop an interview with Peter Willington from Auroch Digital who is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for Elections of US America Election: The Card Game. You can see the project video below and underneath our interview with Peter.
Andy | Hello Peter, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. We’ll kick off with an easy one, who the heck are you and where are you from?
Peter | My name’s Peter Willington, I’m the Producer here at Auroch Digital, an independent games developer in Bristol.
Andy | So Peter, Auroch Digital traditionally seems to be a video game designer, however your latest game Elections of US America Election: The Card Game is your first attempt at a tabletop game. Why now?
Peter | I think the timing is just perfect for us to make a game about the US elections. This time round the election campaign the political landscape is incredibly volatile, intensely public, and the outcome is massively important for everyone around the world. Almost everything we saw in the US elections leading up to our announcement of Elections of US America Election: The Card Game was ripe for satire, so when we spoke with Wonkette and they were keen to team up with us, we knew we had to make a game.
So it was definitely the right conditions for us to do a political satire game, but you’re right, our heritage is definitely digital. We specialise in card, board, and strategy game adaptations to digital experiences, so as you can probably imagine, we eat sleep and breathe physical card games, and understand well the difference between a good card game, and a great one. Also Tomas (my colleague) has done physical games before (e.g. The Dark Mirror) and taught a game design module for a few years at the University of the West of England, that was based around physical game design.
We did all the research into getting a physical product made, worked out all the hard sums, and realised that now was the time to make the card game we always wanted to make.
Andy | Did you ever think about it as a video game or has it been destined to be a tabletop game from the start?
Peter | As we’ve made digital games forever, it was of course a consideration initially. And who knows, if the game proves popular, perhaps we’ll translate our own game into a digital version. But this design we have right now has always been a card game, and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities this format brings with it. We’re just really big fans of board and card games, and here at Bristol Games Hub we have regular meet-ups to play all sorts of them with the whole community.
Andy | Auroch Digital has a history of partnering up to create games and Elections of US America Election: The Card Game (I’m just gonna refer to it as Elections from now on) is no different with you partnering with the political satire site Wonkette. Who approaches who in these situations and how did it come about?
Peter | It was more of a meeting of minds than anything else. Our Design and Production Director Tomas had met the Editor of Wonkette a while back, and we’d wanted to do something together for a while. We decided that now was the right time, what with the US elections coming up.
Andy | Elections is a pretty time specific game, is there a concern when designing the game it’ll become irrelevant post November?
Peter | This is definitely a zeitgeist-y game, but I think it has much longer legs than people might be expecting. We’re including all of the current candidates, but we’ll also be chucking major political figureheads from history into the mix, as well as a sprinkling of the fantastical too, and who knows what else we may include as stretch goals…
Also I think the gameplay itself is strong, and a good game is a good game, regardless of when it’s played or its historical setting.
Andy | You stick to the theme pretty closely but you’ve also included Cthulhu as a candidate. I mean, has he got the legs to go far in this campaign, whose funding him!?
Peter | We hear he’s being funded by a shadowy PAC called ‘Church of Starry Wisdom’, but our researcher we sent to check up on that has not yet reported in. Hope she’s ok!
And no, I don’t think he has the legs to go far… I think he has the tentacles to win.
Andy | Was Cthulhu always a contender in the game or was he brought in later to lighten the mood of the game?
Peter | We always wanted to get him in. We’ve a soft spot for the greatest of the Old Ones at Auroch, and we’re certainly not the first to think that he should be President. I mean, why vote for a lesser evil?
Andy | This is your first attempt at Kickstarter, how are you finding it?
Peter | It’s good! We’ve dedicated people to figuring out everything about this campaign, from shipping and production costs, to creating the video, to answering questions from Backers… everything. It’s a much different route than the “make the thing, sell the thing, fund the next thing” route that we’ve done previously, but what Kickstarter brings that we really like is a closer connection to the people that are buying what we’re making. We want development of our game to be collaborative, so even though the core of the title is in and ready and awesome, the additional elements are all up for debate with the wonderful people who back us.
Andy | If you only had two sentences to sell Elections to our readers, what would you say?
Peter | “Have you ever wondered who would win in a political match between Donald Trump and Cthulhu? Elections of US America Election: The Card Game was made for you.”
Our friends at Wonkette have a good one liner too…
— Wonkette (@Wonkette) February 7, 2016
Andy | Peter, thanks again for your time, can you let us know where we can find Auroch Digital on social media.
Andy | Thanks again Peter!
Peter | An absolute pleasure!