Interview with Grzegorz Rejchtman, the man behind Ubongo

Grzegorz Rejchtman is a Swedish game designer who is a native of Poland. He’s the inventor of Ubongo, the popular board game which Korner Entertainment is porting to the world of videogames.

-First of all, we would like to know how you became game designer… was this your dream since you were a child?

Some things in live just happen. I had at home games my parents had bought to me. One day I looked at them and realized that the games were not so good. Another day I was in a toy shop and looked at all the games they had and was thinking most of the games look funny but probably are not, since I had some of them and knew they were not good. In this moment I was thinking that I can make better games than the games that are sold in the toy shops. So I made a game, which I have not yet sold. Then I made one more game and another one. I thought that all these games I invented were so good, but some were good and some were not. After a lot of game inventions I realized that not all good games are published. I realized also that get a game published is very difficult. Still, after I had realized this I kept on inventing new games, just because I just like the feeling you have during the process of creating a new game and the satisfaction when the game is finished. So as you see it has never been my dream, it just happened.

-This question should be not so surprising for you. How did the concept of Ubongo come to your mind?

One day I visited my aunt and she was laying a jigsaw puzzle. I thought: so boring, no action at all. (It is my opinion – most people like jigsaw puzzles very much, I know it). The next morning when I woke up, I thought about jigsaw puzzles. Then I thought my next project will be a puzzle game. That game took me 5 years to develop. Ubongo is the third version of my first puzzle game, which nobody wanted to publish. The second version of my puzzle game was not good enough and nobody wanted to publish it. The third version of my puzzle game – Ubongo as it is today – is very good.

-Will you be able to explain us what’s Ubongo using just a few words?

Ubongo is a speed puzzling game where you fit shapes onto grids in a frantic pace – you have to beat the clock and your friends in every round.

-What do you think about the prizes Ubongo has won? Do you consider these prizes important for the game?

The prizes are a confirmation that Ubongo is a very good game. The prizes make me proud of myself. The prizes Ubongo has won are very important for me personally but not for the game. Why I don’t think that they are important for the game is because Ubongo has not won any big prize in Germany but still it has become a best-seller game in Germany – for many years. This is a proof that people like Ubongo, because of the game itself not because of prizes. For me it is more important that “normal” people and their families like the game, than experts like my game. It is fantastic that gamers and non-gamers, women, girls, men and boys of all ages like this game. (Many games on the market are either liked by woman/girls or men/boys or only gamers or non-gamers.)

-What about the rest of the games you have created? Which games are you particularly satisfied with? Korner Entertainment, SL | Valencia, 560 4? Planta| 08026 | Barcelona |Spain

Absolut överens: It is a party game that has been on the Swedish market since 2004. This game is played in teams, 2-4 teams, two players in each team. Each team member is trying to write down 5 answers to a question. At the end of each round the team members compare answers. The team score 1 point for each same answer that both players has.

Speculation: A family game about buying the right collectible items and avoid buying collectible items that are fake. The richest person – money+collecteble items – wins the game.

Kuddelmuddel: A children card game. The aim is to find as fast as possible the right picture among the cards you have in your hand. There are six pictures on each card.

The sad thing is that of all the games I have had published there are only two games left on the market, Ubongo published 2003 and Absolut överens published 2004. Most published games lives one or two years. This is the reality a game inventor has to face.

-Do you like videogames? Do you use to play videogames?

I like videogames, but I don’t play videogames regularly. Actually I don’t even play board games regularly. This is probably because I really like to invent new games, and as everybody understands, every game you invent must be test played. So there is not much time over to play games, if you want to have a balanced life that consist of more than playing and working with games.

-What do you expect from the videogame versions of Ubongo?

Many people who play the board game, they like the game of course, but they also like the atmosphere and the quality of the material the game consist of. In the same way I expect that when you play the videogame versions of Ubongo you will have the same nice experience and enjoyment as when you play the board game version of Ubongo. I also expect that people who never play board games will discover Ubongo, and maybe in the long run give board games a chance at some occasions.

-Could videogames be in the future a new platform for board games?

My answer is yes, but there is a little but… Not all board games are suitable for the videogames market.

Ubongo will be available very soon on PC-CD Rom, WiiWare, DSiWare, iPhone, iPod, IPad and PSP Mini platforms.

More information of Ubongo available at:

http://www.ubongothevideogame.com