Featurepreneur: Mackerel Sky Games Launches First Board Game
By Genevieve Allen Hearn
When you were younger, did you think being a game designer sounded like the coolest job in the world? I sure did! It was one of those jobs that I knew people did – but it was somehow unattainable and not ‘real life’. There’s a group in the Annapolis Valley that is dispelling any assumptions about careers in the gaming industry. They are four professionals that found an intersection of skills that made Mackerel Sky Games a reality. The team recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for their first board game, Doxie Dash, and exceeded their funding goal. The dachshund hero card game received support from over 300 backers, and is now in the manufacturing stage.
The Grapevine spoke with Marcie Clowry, a co-founder and graphic designer for the board game publisher.
The Grapevine (GV): Tell me the origin story of Mackerel Sky Games.
Marcie Clowry (MC): Games are best played with friends. In our case, the team consists of best friends, and also two couples. Travis Wilkins and his wife Kendra Wilkins met at Acadia University, while Justin MacDonald and I met in grade 12 at Horton High School. Travis and Justin have been close since they were little kids, playing for hours on end. As adults, play still unifies us. We started making tabletop games together seven years ago as a means to unplug our kids from screens and connect with them in a more tactile manner. This hobby has since grown into a pursuit of creativity and engineering that we wish to share with a larger audience.
GV: What are some unique challenges in the board game industry?
MC: The contemporary board game industry is a niche that is steadily growing in popularity. With the advent of crowdfunding, game designers are able to push their projects into the market in unprecedented numbers. We fell in love with tabletop games because of the challenges we face while playing and designing them. The industry is like a game, and it’s one we’re excited to play. It’s highly competitive and difficult to get noticed. It offers us unique challenges and rewards with each new step we take. Every day is new and different from the one before.
GV: What are some exciting things about working in the board game industry?
MC: The community is incredibly inclusive, talented, and enthusiastic. From artists to designers, collaboration is something that is valued in the industry and pushes our ideas further. So we’re really excited to see what comes of some of the relationships that we are currently building. It is also limitless. You can allow your imagination to run wild during game development. You get to create whole new worlds and then invite people into them to play.
GV: What is it like working as a team? Are there things you need to consider to make the collaboration work?
MC: We are very fortunate to have a compatible team. We all offer different things to the process. Although there is some overlap, we can all recognize each other’s strengths and know when to push or when to back off one another. It’s easy in this process to get so dialed into the work that you cease to see the bigger picture. We all value when someone from the team questions our decisions and asks us to reflect on them. At the end of the day, the critique leads to a better product.
GV: Give us your best Doxie Dash pitch!
MC: Doxie Dash is the party game that keeps on giving. Easy to learn, but challenging to perfect, it can be enjoyed by all ages and all skill levels. Gameplay is quick and simple. Draft cards, gamble, sabotage, and use your hero’s variable player powers to overcome your challengers. It’s a roller coaster ride of quick decision-making that gets with better every hand played. Plus, dachshunds are inherently hilarious. Their signature obstinence to follow rules and eccentric priorities made them an interesting subject to build a game around. To learn more about the game or to purchase a pre-order copy please visit doxiedash.com!
In the photo: Team members left to right: Marcie Clowry, Travis Wilkins, Justin MacDonald. Missing: Kendra Wilkins