In our world, we all have a role to play. We decide every day who we are by the actions we take. But how do we come to those decisions? Some would say it is our own unique experiences and perspectives that guide us. While others challenge themselves and others to think outside our own limited scopes to become better.
What does this have to do with board games? At Ion Game Design, our team has made the choice to work together to make historical and scientific games. We believe that by playing these games, we can all gain knowledge outside of our current lenses and utilize what we learn to improve our own impact on our world. And what better way to learn than by playing a game with loved ones!
That leaves us with the question of what part of history we want to portray in our games. Playing board games should also be fun, of course. So do we only recall those moments in history that were pleasant? Or do we glorify bad periods of history to make them more palatable? We have decided to do neither of those things. While there are wonderful moments in the periods of history that our games encompass, there are devastating ones as well.
In order to more fully understand the atrocities of our troubled past, we must learn about them in order to see how far we have come and recognize the work we still have to do.
In Kartini - From Darkness to Light, the overarching story of this period of history is positive because progress was, in fact, made. However, the struggle for women to gain an education and their independence in Indonesia was fraught with peril, pain, and setbacks. Designer Dr Sherria Ayuandini sought to highlight all of this in her uniquely themed board game design. With accurate representation of Indonesian people and the Indonesian names for places referenced throughout the game, the Indonesian perspective is at the forefront rather than the remnants and lens of Dutch colonialism. This immersion into a perspective that most people outside of Indonesia will never encounter is an opportunity to see things in a new and varied way that helps us learn and grow. That is what Kartini - From Darkness to Light is all about after all - Education for everyone benefits us all!
As our team began the development and artistic process for Third Crusade, we had a clear vision that this wargame would not, in fact, glorify this war; nor would it hide the cost. Within Third Crusade, you are fighting for Glory as an Alliance because that was the goal of the Crusades in that time period. The fighting, however, illustrates the cost of the men you are sending into battle. Not only are you penalized for using them and losing their lives, but you are also penalized for not providing them with nourishment, like water, they need to survive. It is clear what the cost is for the Glory you seek.
The abhorrent cost of war is further literally illustrated in the cover art for Third Crusade. Our artistic design team rendered swords that appear as crosses in the way they have been abandoned and left speared into the ground. Spent shields and torn flags lay over the lost Christian and Muslim men left lifeless on the ground. A mist rises over the tortured battlefield with an officer on a horse and a few remaining living soldiers in shadow with their heads bent. A building of Jerusalem is barely visible in the ruinous background. It is an anguishing scene that is actually barely perceptible when you first look at the cover but becomes glaringly apparent as you look more closely..
This has been our task - To bring to you the terrible truth about oppression of women and a war in our past that was full of exclusion, treachery, death, abuses of power, and abuses of faith. We have not taken it lightly with the hope that we can all learn from our troubled past in order to prevent such suppression and atrocities from ever again occurring as well as continue to make progress towards diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all.
By looking back, we can see the mistakes we have made and must never repeat just as we also see how far we have come and how much more work there is to be done.