We are a publisher that tries to emphasize social issues in our “modern society” in our games without making the game less fun. Thus, we were happy to see that Hyggames has a similar philosophy. One of their games, “Happy Nation” is a strategy game, which offers a lot of player interaction and fun. When the game addresses an issue within our society, it follows three rules, which I think are very important – they did not tell us that they have made these rules, it just feels like it, when you play the game:
- The publisher does not want to interfere with your opinion, they simply want to educate.
- Facts are listed in the rules book.
- Each issue that is addressed in Happy Nation, is also part of a mechanic. If you have played the game, you will realize this quite fast, either by playing the role of a banker, or by noticing that the central bank lends each turn money to the players without the obligation to pay the money back – a reference to the loose money policy in our societies.
By Daniel Grest, Copenhagen
During the 2008 financial crisis, I learned where our money actually comes from and what this means for the economy. The short version is that more than 90 percent of our money is created the moment a private bank issues a loan. There are more than a few experts who believe that this is precisely what caused the last two global financial crises.
Anyway, I thought this information should be disseminated because this money cycle was never decided by a legislative institution, but “just happened” over the last 50 years.
At that time I was working at Aalborg University, teaching “Medialogy” (scientific forms of analysis of cultural mediation). Maybe that’s why I had the idea to develop a game that could provide playful answers to the question: “Where does our money actually come from?”
So the idea was born: the game should teach the player (in a not-too-obvious way) about the two sources of money – and what they mean for society.
So the game should be about economics, money and credit. But how do you put these elements together in a game? Maybe something with time, luck and free trade?
I was already developing a computer game when my kite-surfing buddy (who also taught Medialogy at Aalborg University) got me thinking about a board game instead. I could see that it was much faster to have something playable in my hands when it came to developing in cardboard rather than bits and bytes.
So I started. I created some very ugly A5 sheets in Word and collected all sorts of characters and parts from other games, including Carcassone, Dominion and whatever other games I had around. After just two nights, I had something we could play.
The rules weren’t written yet, so we had to make them up on the fly as we played prototype after prototype.
But overall, the concept worked with a banker making loans, an entertainer selling entertainment, a builder supplying buildings, and a farmer producing food, as well as the “foreign country” importing and exporting goods.
Our development continued with many small rule changes to make the game simpler. A long series of re-designs of the game elements followed, until three years ago we finally had something we could envision making as a real game box with all the trimmings.
Then in September 2018, we got the parts for our 50 prototypes. We spent a whole day sorting those out and started distributing them to interested people. The feedback was so great that we decided to launch our production.
After many 100 playtests, we were ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign and successfully closed it in January 2021! For this, we even received the award „project we love“!
The result is our board game “Happy Nation”, where the player has to manage time and money. Only a work-life balance, for work and leisure, will let you reach the goal of becoming the happiest player at the table.
Do you like games with a meaningful idea, where you learn something useful and have fun with friends and family at the same time? Then Happy Nation is the game for you!
Games sold: Happy Nation