Stripes From Breaking Games, by Maxine Ekl
In this day and age, board gaming is having a huge upswing in popularity. With that comes the usual traits associated with increasing the fandom; lots more people, lots more games, lots more fun. With more and more people picking out board games every day, it becomes harder and harder to know which ones would suit you as a good start. Would you like to win the most victory points and beat your friends? Join your friends in a rag tag team against an evil ruler? Fly across space? In this new world of board gaming, you can pretty much do all of those things, and sometimes even at the same time. Some gamers tend to lean towards a more aesthetic approach. Which game can you play that incorporates design, looks fun and interesting, and you still have fun with your friends? Stripes by Maxine Ekl is the perfect answer to that question.
Stripes is a fun strategic competitive game for 2-6 players where the goal is to create a single line across all of your cards of one color or pattern before your other competitors. Players navigate choosing different actions to perform in order to shift around their tableau of striped cards on the way to achieving the game’s goal. The game is incredibly unique. Ekl has mastered the combination of strategy, intrigue, and aesthetic fun while keeping the game incredibly accessible to lots of different people as well as lots of different types of gamers.
Our Interview with Stripes' Designer Maxine Ekl
Q: First, tell me a little about your background in game design! What got you to design games?
I played a lot of cards growing up. My parents had a canasta group that played regularly so there’s that influence of games being a great way to socialize. Then in my second career as a stay at home mom, Randy (my husband) and I developed the concept for Dual Value Playing Cards. It’s basically two decks of cards merged into one deck. We took a couple of classic card games and updated the rules to work with our new cards. The result was “Think Ahead” and “High And Low Poker”.
We jumped right in and self published, then came to the unfortunate realization that we’re not very good at marketing or advertising. I even wrote an app for our poker game figuring that if people liked it, they may want to buy a physical copy.There’s a couple of problems there. First, we’re back to our original advertising problem — it’s crazy hard to get your app noticed. Second, we discovered that ours is not the typical family which plays both physical and electronic games. There wasn’t ever going to be a big crossover from the app to a physical sale.
Self publishing can be a huge hurdle to jump over. What led you to make Stripes? What was the inspiration for it? Can you explain your goals for designing the game and were those goals reached?
Stripes was the direct result of a quick comment from Scott Brown (Marbles, The Brain Store). I tried pitching our games to him at the ChiTag Inventor Conference and he said they “looked too much like cards.” They really do. I never thought to make them otherwise. But his comment, that he probably doesn’t even remember making, is what got me started trying to make a card game that didn’t look like cards! I’d say "Yes! My goal was reached."
Stripes is unique in that it has a myriad of strategic angles that are all equally fun to play. What’s your favorite aspect of the game?
I love that you’re working on your own little puzzle but that you also have to keep an eye on what other players are doing. Sometimes you need to decide if you’re going to advance your own tableau or slow someone else down. It’s not always an easy decision.
How easy is it to learn the game? How easy is it to add the game to your regular board game hobby line up?
Stripes is incredibly easy to learn. It has the simple goal of lining up seven cards in your tableau to make a single color stripe all the way across. You do that by choosing an available action which will either reposition an existing card or swap a new card into your tableau. Easy-Peasy! Stripes is a great family game or a good filler for more serious gamers.
When playing the game, the ability to catch on quickly is clear. It has amazing aesthetics and simple game mechanics which juggle well with just enough strategy to keep everyone at the table invested in the race. One of the best things about the game is its commitment to accessibility. In an industry that is pulling more and more people into it every day, it’s imperative that we keep the industry accessible to all types of gamers and not pigeon hole anyone into only playing certain games because of disabilities. The cards in the game are color blind accessible, which is fantastic. Did you intentionally design the game with accessibility in mind?
Absolutely. On my journey as a game designer, I discovered Protospiel. It’s an incredible community of game designers who get together at weekend conventions to play each other’s prototypes and offer feedback. Protospielers were the ones to offer the suggestion to make Stripes color blind friendly. Now it’s second nature to me in all my game designs. I’ll also add that I found this community to be so helpful and welcoming that I now organize a Protospiel event in the Chicagoland area in September.
To Finish Off...
As the board game community increases, so does the diversity of its players and developers. Although the majority of game developers are male, there are more female game makers out there making new games and keeping inclusion as a priority in the game playing experience. Maxine is a fantastic example of that. There are so many games out there that are great for your family or a fun game night with friends. Stripes stands out in the crowd as a champion of accessibility while also being a fun way to start a great new hobby. Pick up a copy from Breaking Games and challenge your friends; earn your Stripes today!