Portsmouth resident Owen Devine designed Footprint, a board game to teach people about the environment, after a family game of Monopoly went wrong. Almost ten years later, he’s successfully crowdfunded for a ‘World Edition’ of the game to be released in 2019. Sarah Cheverton reports.
Another family argument over Monopoly was Owen’s inspiration to think about a different sort of board game.
‘Rather than a game that celebrates ruthless competition at the expense of friendships, I started thinking why not a game that reflects the reality of the world we live in?’ said Owen.
‘I began to think about a board game that could make the environmental issues some people find intimidating or difficult, more fun and engaging.’
Owen, who works as a Planning Officer and has a background in design, began working on the idea. Shortly after, Footprint was born: a game where players are challenged to clean up the planet before time runs out.
‘The main concept of the game is to make learning about the environment fun for people of all backgrounds,’ said Owen, ‘Maybe you don’t know that much about it when you start playing, but you know much more about the planet and sustainability by the time the game ends.’
Players answer questions on world geography, wildlife, sustainability and much more, with the questions divided into three levels: Beginner, for children; Medium, for adults; and an Advanced level for committed ecowarriors.
Footprint gradually generated broader support and entered production, with the help of the Society for Environmental Improvement, tEC Southampton, and UnLtd. Owen’s friends and family acted as testers for the game and soon schools and community groups joined it to help fine tune the gameplay.
In 2015, the first 100 copies of Footprint: the Portsmouth Edition went on sale and sold out.
‘If you’ve still got a copy,’ said Owen, ‘it’s now officially vintage!’
‘The card game of Footprint is quicker and easier to play,’ said Owen.
‘And of course it was important that it’s environmentally friendly and sustainable, so the game uses Forest Stewardship Commission (FSC) certified paper, card and wooden pieces, all held together with a natural cotton bag.
‘The majority of the game’s components are made in the UK and EU.’
Southern Co-op have offered their support to distribute several hundred copies of the game to schools in Portsmouth and the surrounding area when it comes out in 2019.
‘Our target market for the game is families and schools, but having seen so many adults playing it, I know the game is something everyone can enjoy,’ said Owen.
In May 2018, Owen launched a Kickstarter crowdfunder for the World Edition game, which runs until 30th June. People donating to the game can claim rewards according to the amount they donate, including a copy of the game, and an educational version with worksheets for schools.
The Kickstarter hit its £500 target in just 5 hours.
‘Our first backers were from Germany and Singapore, so the World Edition definitely has global appeal!’ said Owen. Backers have also donated to the Kickstarter from the USA, Australia, China and Japan.
Owen has recently started to spread the word about Footprint within the UK games market.
‘On the 2nd and 3rd June we took the game to the UK Games Expo in Birmingham, where it really stood out, as it didn’t involve dragons or tanks!’
Copies of the game will be shipped in early 2019.
You can pre-order your copy of Footprint up to 30th June by donating £20 or more to Owen’s Kickstarter campaign. You can find out more about the game and its development at the website, and follow its progress over at Footprint’s Facebook page.
Images with permission from Owen Devine.