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West African Craftsmen...

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bluesea
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So I was thinking...

Today I was searching for a six foot tall wooden giraffe for a gift for my wife and I was invited back into the "workshop" area where all the carvings are made. There were probably twenty-some men working away making very nice wood carvings of every African creature you could imagine. They are truly high quality. I'm a woodworker myself, so I was especially impressed what they could make with so little.

So I was thinking...

And the other day I found some very, very lovely hand-painted cloth mounted on post-card size stock with, again an African type design. But, African theme or not, there was obviously some talent involved here.

So I was thinking...

And last week, I took an old belt I had to the musee where the leather workers have their shop so they could make a dog collar out of it. It came out very nice, and my dog gets a lot of compliments on his collar. While at the musee I notice that the leather workers make these incredible chests and picture frames.

So I AM thinking...

I wonder if there might be a good resource here for custom, hand-made games. I could see even how the theme of the game could be tied to these hand-made pieces. I've been looking at
www.zeitstein.de/oper_bild1.html
and think that something along these lines could be made very easily and very affordably here. Even if it is just for prototyping.

Anyone think there might be some interest out there for this. The materials and labor are much, much less than in the states. And if things are bought in bulk, the price would only go way down. It's the shipping that would have to be worked out. Details, details.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

John

[EDIT: Yippee! four-side die!]

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
West African Craftsmen...

I think it's a very interesting idea. A few years ago when I started designing games again (based on my newfound experiences with German games) I thought it would be great fun to to one-off or a super-limited run of artistic games, each one a true work of art in addition to being a great game.

When I ran into the work of Thomas Fackler I realized I wasn't the first to think of it. :) His stuff is really beautiful.

I decided that in any contract I have with a publisher I'd want a clause that allowed me to produce limited-run super-high-quality versions of the game. I figure if the contract limited it to a maximum of, say, 100 total copies that are priced at least twice the retail price of the standard version they're publishing then most publishers would probably be fine with it, and I could still make beautiful copies that might well be sold in art galleries (and direct-to-buyers) rather than in game stores. The actual price could easily be 10 times the retail.

Similar one-off or limited runs could be done with games I don't manage to sell to publishers as long as I'm confident they're good games (as publishers reject great games all the time if they don't see a market for them right now, if they don't fit the publisher's line, if a somewhat similar game is in their queue, etc.).

Finding craftsmen who could create some of the pieces (since my three-dimensional fabrication skills are quite limited, even if I can envision it) would be essential to the success. Where are you in the world?

-- Matthew

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
West African Craftsmen...

From another thread...

bluesea wrote:
Well that's a good question. At the moment I am in Guinea, West Africa. But I would like the webhost to be from America.

I am sure he could have answered this himself, obviously. Your question just triggered my memory, as Guinea is a fairly unusual locale compared to most of the participators here.

~Josh

bluesea
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West African Craftsmen...

Yes, I am in Guinea right now. And from the work I have been seeing, I think some beautiful game pieces could be made here. Some may be more raw than others...but that too could easily play into the theme of the game. Just a stroll through the marche (market) gets your game design juices going. You could almost make a game from some found objects I think.

I'd much rather have a set of wood 'pawns' that may not be exactly alike than a set of perfectly symmetrical plastic pieces. The tactile sensation of the wood or leather, and the heft in one's hand more than make up for any 'imperfections' of the hand made.

I really think that there is an opportunity here, and if anyone is interested in sending me some 'plans' for a game, I could work with them on the design, and price it out for you. It would be great to bring some business to this part of the world.

Please feel free to contact me or PM me for more information.

Any other thoughts on the subject are very welcome.

John

CDRodeffer
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Joined: 08/04/2008
[Off Topic -- was Re: West African Craftsmen...]

bluesea wrote:
Yippee! four-side die!2
Hey! I don't have any dice. How do I get one?

bluesea
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Joined: 07/28/2008
West African Craftsmen...

don't know...but

Quote:
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

GO BLUE! (my alama mater)

RobBartel
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Joined: 12/31/1969
West African Craftsmen...

It's an interesting idea and one I've put a little thought into as well.

I have some connections with Ten Thousand Villages, a chain of 160+ stores across North America that sell a wide range of international handicrafts as part of the larger Fair Trade movement. They've always carried some gorgeous chess & checker sets as well as some other well-crafted toys & puzzles of various sorts.

I always thought it would be a neat production and distribution route for the right sort of game. Given the underlying Fair Trade philosophy and the handcrafted nature of the product, the cost per unit would likely be too high for wholesale distribution but direct-to-retail might still be feasible (including online retail - Funagain has been making some interesting quasi-publisher moves lately, for instance).

Cheers,
Rob

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