The board game that’s redefining festive cool

Q. What made you want to design a board game?
A. I had been working for a number of years in a middle-management job I didn’t enjoy in an industry I didn’t care about. I felt that I had to make a change and work on something I really loved. I decided to invent a board game because I’ve always been interested in them and their power to bring people together.

How did you come up with the idea?
The cliché of 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration is very apt in my case. I made a prototype set out of MDF and dowels from B&Q and some card, and played around with it whenever I could. The way the game has turned out is quite different from my original idea, which was something to do with having to divert water across the board by turning pipes. It was only once I was happy with the game that I ran it through a computer programme to make sure it worked.

What did you do before you became a full time board game maker?
I worked in the marketing and sales department for a skin cream company. It could be an odd industry: one of our competitors included discarded foreskins from babies who had been circumcised as one of the ingredients in their creams. They claimed the stem cells from the young skin helped to reduce the signs of ageing. I used to take my prototype to work with me every day and work on it in Starbucks on High Street Kensington during my lunch break.

Explain the rules/object, briefly
Perigon is a two player strategy game. The board is a seven-by-six grid with grooved grid lines. The pieces are solid cylinders that lie in the grooves of the board and move in 90 degree arcs around the intersections of the grid. Each player has four pieces: two Woods and two Granites, and there is a neutral piece called the Flag. The aim of the game is to use your pieces to make the Flag touch your opponent’s goal line at the opposite end of the board. Granites are more powerful than Woods and can shunt them out of the way. You can move the Flag as many times as you wish, but it must remain connected to one or more of your pieces if you want to be able move it.

Is it for grownups?
The strategy of the game is very rich so it is a game for grown-ups. However, the rules are easy to learn so a ten-year-old could not only understand how to play but also think tactically about the game.

What appeals about Perigon?
Perigon incorporates all of the classic elements of strategy, but, as the mechanics are unique, it forces you into an exciting reimagination of your approach to playing. While the strategy is rich, it is also accessible, which makes the game very engaging even for a beginner. Perigon is easy to learn, and, as it only has nine pieces, you can quickly set up the board and start playing almost immediately. It only takes up to 30 minutes to play a game. The Perigon set that lauched last week in Fortnum & Mason is very elegant: it’s made from solid wood and finished with premium paints and varnishes.

Will City workers enjoy it?
I think they would because it’s very challenging, and the strategy is very rich. There is no chance or luck involved, so the outcome relies entirely on the players’ skill, intelligence and foresight. The branching factor is on a par with Chess, so each game is very different from the one before, which is what makes it so addictive.

Do you think there's a coolness about board games again? If so, why?
Definitely there is. To play a good board game well you have to be sober, considered and display intelligence. These are the kind of qualities that are now considered cool in the public consciousness. Other ways of having fun no longer are: computer game playing has become geeky while people who only go drinking in pubs and bars are now thought of as being boorish.

What role do they serve in such a digital world as ours?
The digital world can be very solitary, while board games bring us together and allow us to foster human relationships in a more meaningful way. Playing physical board games helps children to develop their emotional intelligence because it enables them to play with real people sitting directly opposite them. Especially if they are playing online, it’s too easy for them to shirk their social responsibilities when the person they are playing with is so remote.

What’s next for you?
There are a couple of other games that I am working on: one word game and another about the stock market. I can’t talk about them too much because they are still in the development stage!

listen to other people’s opinions, but not too much!

Many people dream of selling their inventions. How did you actually manage to do it?
First of all, I fully researched the market to make sure I didn’t create a game that already existed. Then, before I started the inventing process, I had a clear demographic in my mind of who the game was for. it had to be fun, challenging, unique and make a powerful visual impact. When the game was completed, I made a high quality prototype and took it to trade shows to show the game to anyone I could. Lastly, I found it was good to listen to other people’s opinions, but not too much!

Perigon is £40 at Fortnum’s. www.clarendongames.com