Gamer of Interest: Xeo Lye

SOG will start a new series where we will highlight gamers in Singapore and around the region.

We recently caught up with Xeo Lye of Capital Gains Studio who is running a Kickstarter for his card game, Wongamania: Banana Republic. Xeo designed and produced the earlier incarnation of Wongamania, and the game has been featured in the papers as well as TV. I first got to know him through SOGCon 2015 where tried to showcase locally designed boardgames.

Tell us more about what you do for a living.

XL: I am the co-founder of Capital Gains Studio and we design games and tools to get people to talk about topics which we Asian has a strong affiliation to but reluctant to talk about at the dinner table.

What lead you to this?

XL: I have been working in the wealth management industry in the past 12 years and I get invited to give talks every now and then. As much as I am a pretty animated speaker, it is still difficult to explain complex financial concepts using only some powerpoints and worksheets. I designed a couple of games to engage the audiences during my talks and it proves to be a big hit as the audience came to me wishing to buy a copy of my game. Other speakers who have been using my games gave me feedback that there is a strong demand for such a product to help people understand dry, financial topics better and that is how Capital Gains Studio is born.

What games had a big impact in your life? Are you still gaming?

XL: I started playing board and video games ever since I was young. Risk, Escape from Atlantis, Monopoly and an obscure 1967 boardgame called RatRace are a regular feature at my place and I always enjoy role playing book games and DnD. Magic: The Gathering is the next big influencing factor which I dabbled in it for the next 10 years. These days, I play mostly light medium games with my family and friends. King of Tokyo with my niece and nephew. Citadel, Coup, Ticket to Ride, Exploding Kittens are regular features among my friends. Just bought Pandemic Legacy and couldn't wait to try it out!

How did Wongamania: Banana Economy come about?

XL: Wongamania: Banana Economy is the 3rd evolution of the Wongamania series and is a testimonial from our journey as a board game outsider to a more seasoned designer and publisher. When Wongamania 1st edition went on sale in Singapore and on Amazon, we started getting feedback from the international players on what they like and do not like about the game. As we investigate further, we realize that there is a difference in gaming culture in Singapore, US and Europe. Wongamania: Banana Economy has been redesigned to cater to the taste of the international gaming audience better, while maintaining a good chunk of local flavor game mechanics. Wongamania: Banana Economy is a bit like Singapore, an international game with a Singapore cultural core.

What kind of gamers would Wongamania Banana Economy appeal to?

XL: Wongamania: Banana Economy is a pretty good gateway game for non board game players, as it takes less than 3 minutes to set up and get going. The game play is very institutive and players will be able to pick up the key rules quickly. Meanwhile, we have design quite a bit of tactical depth and advance game play rules and boards for the more advance gamers who like a bigger challenge.

Why did you choose to launch it via Kickstarter?

XL: We first launched Wongamania 1st edition via Singapore Crowdfunding platform Crowdtivate, and it did not succeed. We learnt a lot about crowdfunding from that episode and decided to launch on Kickstarter as that is probably the best crowdfunding platform for tabletop games.

We also wanted to pave the way for future Singaporean board game designers, and create a knowledge base on how to run a Kickstarter campaign, on how best to succeed in getting their games funded.

What are your future plans (for the game)?

XL: We are still learning on the ropes on how to become a good game designer and publisher. We have learnt the basic ropes for cardboards, and dice and meeples, we may be looking into miniatures production! I will love to have Debtzilla turned into a miniature! Other plans include an expansions to include other asset classes, such as commodities, currency exchanges, derivatives, a cooperative boss fight mode and multiple economic boards and productivity dice for much deeper and strategic play. On the education front, we will be publishing an education booklet explaining some of the economic principles behind Wongamania and how to use these principles to invest profitably for the ever pragmatic Singaporeans who are looking for more value in the game, beyond the fun and social interaction.

Would you encourage other Singaporeans to try to Kickstart their projects too?

XL: Definitely! It is a great way to communicate the idea you have to the rest of the world, and who knows, what contacts and opportunities the campaign may open up to!

Wongamania: Banana Economy is currently on Kickstarter ending Friday, December 18th.


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