May is a month to celebrate Filipino game design, because this month sees the launch of not one, but three original Filipino tabletop games: Rogue’s Dare by Cyrell Aspiras, Watchlist by Ronald Villaver, and MNL48 Team Shuffle by Ronald Villaver and Thomas Regala. These three games are published by Larong Atin, a brand under Ludus Distributors. The launch will be held on May 28, 2022, 1:30pm at Japan Town, Ayala Malls Vertis North. During the launch people will get a chance to play the games, meet and greet the designers and artists, and perhaps meet some MNL48 idols.
Games by Filipinos for Filipinos
Freddie Tan, president of Ludus Distributors shares “We want to develop and encourage local game designers by giving them a chance to publish their games. It’s really hard for Filipino game designers to be recognized overseas if we don’t have incubation here in the Philippines. Larong Atin as an incubator, to give our designers exposure, locally first and then eventually internationally. My dream is to have a thriving local tabletop game design industry.”
Tan makes sure that the Larong Atin games are accessible - both in game design and in price. “Our goal is to reach the average Filipino so if you notice we price our games much lower than the imported games. We are sacrificing a lot of margins but we want to keep our games accessible to people who have not yet tried modern tabletop games.”
The games will be available for nationwide shipping through Shopee, Lazada, and over the counter at all Neutral Grounds outlets for a standard retail price of Php 350 for Watchlist, Php 495 for Rogue’s Dare, and Php 995 for MNL48 Team Shuffle.
Why tabletop games?
Tabletop games are a good way to develop social skills. “People playing games online tend to pick up hostile behavior. They are detached from the other players and there is no immediate feedback or repercussion to their behaviors or actions. That’s why people behave very differently online. But when you are playing with somebody right in front of you, you get to see their reaction immediately. That’s why when people are playing board games, they tend to be nicer and more polite to each other. Interpersonal skills are developed. Hopefully tabletop games teach not just kids, but also adults how to deal with each other,” says Tan.
Tabletop games are a good form of entertainment because it encourages critical thinking. “There is active decision making while you are getting entertained. It’s not passive where you are just waiting for somebody to tell you what’s happening. When you’re playing games, you and your opponent’s actions determine what’s going to happen next. You react to them and you are forced to think while you are participating. Some might even say that IQ is a barrier to playing games but it’s not. We all have the capacity to think. It’s just a question of whether we want to use it or not,” says Tan.
Now to the games being launched on the 28th! What can you expect, what’s the lowdown, how do they play?
MNL48 Team Shuffle (Game design by Ronald Villaver and Thomas Regala)
MNL48 Team Shuffle is a twist to the classic Top Trumps game (pataasan ng stats). The game features all the members of 2nd gen MNL48 and each idol has different stats. People first “draft” or form their group of idols. Then one by one, players take turns as stage managers, declare what stat to compare and choose who would get the most points (highest, lowest, or the stage manager’s choice). Players would then choose an idol from their hand and compare the chosen stat to see who gets the points. All the idols have a turn in the spotlight!
Rogue’s Dare (Game design by Cyrell Aspiras, illustrated by Jeff Benitez)
Rogue’s Dare is a push your luck bluffing game. Players try to outbid each other on how much treasure they can get from the dragon’s dungeon. As they do, they place down cards with these treasures but also traps that might alert and wake the dragon. The most daring rogue will be uncovering these cards to take the treasure while trying to avoid the traps other players might have planted or else wake the dragon and fail.
Watchlist (Game design by Ronald Villaver, illustrated by Ruben Nacion)
Watchlist is the game if Where’s Waldo and Pinoy Henyo had a baby - a cooperative hidden object game where players (agents) try to find people on the cards by asking yes or no questions from an informant. Based on the informant’s answers, the agents try to find 5 targets from a deck of cards within a time limit of 5mins. Players succeed if they can meet the quota of 5 targets before the time runs out.
What is exciting is that the launch of these 3 games is just the start. Larong Atin currently has 12 games under its roster. It looks like the promise of Larong Atin and Ludus Distributors to publish original Filipino games is here to stay. There is space and opportunity for Filipino game designers to share their games to other Filipinos, and for Filipinos to eventually share successful designs to the world.
With the Philippines starting to open up after the lockdowns of the pandemic, things are looking up! Board game groups are starting to meetup, friends are getting together. There are more opportunities for people to play games with each other while exercising their brain cells and practicing their social interaction skills.
Gamer playing Larong Atin games- Plataporma, Darna and Bagani during the recent Baecon 2022. Image courtesy of VariablePlay.
Join us on the launch on May 28, 1:30pm at Japan Town in Ayala Malls Vertis North as we celebrate original Filipino games! Stay updated by liking Larong Atin on Facebook.