Hello, and welcome to Meet the Artisans, a series where I get to know the talented craftspersons that make up the Variant Ventures Artisans Guild! So far, I have spoken to several of our gifted craftspersons. This week I talked to Artisan Member Atikin Games!
J (he/him): Can you tell us a little bit about Atikin Games?
Nikita (she/her): I would love to, Atikin Games is all about making life a little more fun through tabletop games. It’s run by me, Nikita, and I’m very much a one-woman team. All of my games are designed, illustrated and published by me. I have two published games: Tri to Win – the triathlon card game and Mini Memory Mischief the cute and nerdy mint tin game for 2. Both of my games were funded through Kickstarter and I have several upcoming games as well that I’m hoping will receive just as much love and support from the gaming community.
I also love to craft and to make just about anything so I sell a lot of gaming accessories and gaming themed items through my Etsy store. I love making dice bags to suit specific dice sets and I’ve been making more and more dice jewellery and keyrings lately.
J: What can you tell us about the game design process?
Nikita: The main thing I know about my game design process is that it seems very different to how many others go about it. So far, my games have come together in my mind all at once, theme and mechanics are there almost immediately and then at the point of forming it into a prototype it gets a bit more standardized in terms of the design process.
Once I have a tangible prototype my husband is always the first play tester. We regularly play and revise the game until it feels solid and fun, then my best friend Matt joins us to play and when we’re all happy I invite others to play test and blind play test. Play testing to find problems and improve the gameplay is very important to me and it’s a great time to mess about with different ways it could be played.
J: How do you create a welcoming table?
Nikita: For me a welcoming table is letting people have things the way they want. I let others pick their playing pieces first, I sleeve my prototypes so that people can feel comfortable snacking at the table without destroying anything. I’m quite a social and friendly person so I will chat with people about anything they want, it doesn’t have to be game related.
J: What was your inspiration for the Board Game Survival Kit?
Nikita: That’s a really interesting question, it’s really once I had my first game (Tri To Win) prototyped and started to get involved with the online gaming community that I realised just how important having a player colour is to some people, for some gamers their colour is their gaming identity so I knew I wanted to do a colour themed kit that would allow people to play as their chosen colour more often.
The one thing I didn’t know was how I would make this into a kit. It wasn’t until I started working on Mini Memory Mischief and its little mint tin home that I realised that was the perfect way to package up these colour themed kits so that they could be pocket sized and still in a sturdy enough box/tin/package.
J: At this point, you have had several successful Kickstarters! What advice do you have for those looking to crowdfund?
Nikita: I think knowing where your audience is the most important starting point. I started by researching Kickstarter and Indiegogo and after looking into it for a while and not having much of my own audience at the time I realised I really needed the built-in gaming audience that Kickstarter has.
Once you know where to crowdfund, building up your own audience is essential, there needs to already be an air of excitement around your project before it launches. If you choose Kickstarter then use the preview page for as long as possible to gain followers for the project before you launch.
J: When you aren’t designing games and creating tabletop wares, what do you like to do?
Nikita: Well, hopefully it goes without saying that I also love to play games, both board and video games. I also love to cook, garden and I can be a bit of an exercise nerd (when I get myself back in to a routine)
J: What is your favorite board game?
Nikita: I am really bad at picking favourites and it probably depends on the week but some of my favourites are Dead of Winter, Takenoko, Ticket to Ride and Jaws.
J: What non-profit/charity can we help you signal boost?
Nikita: I feel like as an indie tabletop designer I should probably find a little non-profit that needs some help but my first thought is that my heart belongs to Cancer Research UK, I used to walk/jog/run the race for life every year and the atmosphere they create and the work they do is wonderful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know Atikin Games a little more. Please feel free to follow me on your favourite social media platform.