This project goes back quite some time. The first time I got the chance to design outside of a set assignment at the university college where I studied applied arts, I decided to make a prototype for a board game. I designed it with a fellow student (named Davy D’Hollander) and the game was called “Mensenhandel” (or “Human Trafficking” in English). The point behind the game was basically to generate awareness of the horrors of human trafficking. My colleague and I figured that a board game would always keep people off guard, even if it was called “human trafficking”. Board games are supposed to be clean family fun.
In retrospective, I’m still a little bit proud of how the game turned out. The mechanics worked well and it was balanced pretty well. The execution of the theme could have been done a little bit better, in particular in comparison to games such as Brenda Brathwaite’s train, but it wasn’t done badly either. Players started the game making a quick buck but they were forced turn into absolute monsters to actually “win” the game. So I guess the game at least got to the point where players had weigh their ethic beliefs against their competitiveness. As a result, many test players didn’t finish the game, even some of the players who enjoyed the game as a form of black humor at first. I only wished that we would have designed the game to be a bit more subtle, since some of the images towards the end of the game were just extremely disturbing to the point that I can’t show them here. And personally, I think that we could have gotten our point across just as well relying solely on the game’s mechanics, as the message was just as much in the mechanics as it was in the images. But then again, the year was 2001 and we were students who were trying to be as provocative as possible.