We’d like to introduce you to Helaina and Josh Cappel, the couple behind the company Kids Table Board Gaming. Their mission is to “Make kids games for adults”. They understand the value of creating a great quality game that spans generations and brings people around the table.
In this interview, we talk with this husband and wife team about their passion for gaming, raising their kids on great games and chat about their latest project Problem Picnic that is currently on Kickstarter.
The two of you have different paths that brought you into game development. Can you share about when board games became much more than a hobby for you?
Josh: For me it’s always been more than a hobby. I knew since I was a tiny baby that I would eventually become a game designer and artist, so I trained myself basically from birth to achieve these ultimate goals.
Helaina: I have always poked my nose into Josh’s business. I’d give him my opinion on the color he was using or how heavy the black lines were outlining the dwarfs. And I never held back criticizing his own game designs when I felt flaws with them. He would take my suggestions and often use them to make his games better. After a while, I realized that I had moved from pointing out what was wrong with the games to suggesting how to make them better. That’s when I’d moved from being a play tester to game developer.
As a parent who loves tabletop games, sharing this hobby as a family is really important. What kinds of game have you introduced the kids to and what are you looking forward to as they get older?
Helaina: I just want to like and enjoy the games that we play with them! Some games aimed at kids just don’t cut it in that regard, but I’ll play with them anyway because every game has some value or lesson to teach a small child, even if it’s something as simple as taking turns. But, we try as often as we can to expose our kids to smart hobby games that encourage analytical thinking.
Josh: Totally. It’s hard to find games that kids can play and enjoy that we can play and enjoy too. There are good ones out there, and we are trying to make some too. We do push them a little bit into more complicated games than the suggested age would recommend; they understand a lot of modern game concepts like worker placement, area control, set collection, stuff like that. Basically we’re looking forward to them being at an age where no game is “above them”, and we’re trying to get them there quickly by exposing them to good games!
Your company Kids Table Board Gaming is making games that are kid-friendly but still great for adults. Just the other day, I sat down with a friend and played Foodfighters. Just two adult men, playing with our food. What is your process when developing games that are fun for both demographics?
Helaina: Haha! That’s adorable. Me and Josh play Foodfighters all the time. Lots of testing of new factions ideas too.
Josh: Our process is: Josh makes it too complicated, then Helaina talks him down. Then we play it, with adults and with kids, and with both together.
Helaina: Our games need to play well with all three combinations. Otherwise we won’t publish them under Kids Table. This is hard, because sometimes we end up designing a good game that doesn’t fit. Those ideas we’ll eventually pitch to some other publisher that doesn’t have Kids Table’s mission.
Problem Picnic is your second game to hit Kickstarter and it was developed by Scott Almes. How did this game come about?
Helaina: I just asked him. Cold emailed him: Do you have any games that would fit with Kids Table? I told him what we were looking for and he said “yeah” right away. He sent us his dice-rolling dexterity game called “Castle Toss”. I knew we wanted it almost immediately just from playing it first with Josh, then with our kids. It struck that perfect balance. There were a few things we wanted to change about it, and Scott was totally on board with every decision and alteration. We really worked with him to polish it up.
Josh: One thing we changed (obviously) was the theme. Our kids didn’t really get into the notion of going to the quarry to get castle pieces. H and me just played around with the dice for a while trying to understand what the game felt like when you were playing it; what the theme should be. The action of the dice skittering across the table to go collect something and bring it home eventually led us to the ants idea, and everything clicked into place from there. The theme feels bang-on to me now.
The Kickstarter is still being funded at the time of this interview. What have you learned from backers as you look to crowdfunding to bring your games to production?
Josh: I’ve learned that Kickstarting is really hard. We don’t seem to run campaigns that explode for four weeks straight and raise a jillion dollars. We work hard every day to promote and spread the word. You don’t want to be overly aggressive with people you know and maybe turn them off, but you also don’t want to miss an opportunity to have someone become a backer and get a great game. It’s a fine line, and it’s not easy.
Helaina: You have to listen to what your backers have to say; often they have great ideas. They’re investing in your project because they believe in it or because they believe in you, or both. That human connection is a huge part of running a Kickstarter campaign.
Your company is all about making game experiences for kids and adults, so what’s next for Kids Table Board Gaming?
Helaina: Josh and I are working on several games at the moment, and Kids Table is happily accepting submissions that satisfy our mission. The next release for Kids Table will likely be a set of two new factions for Foodfighters, then after that a new game.
You can learn more about Kids Table Board Gaming here and be sure to visit the Problem Picnic Kickstarter today.