From the For Toys fair to Deskohraní 2012
Last weekend saw the third annual For Toys fair held at Prague’s Letňany featuring children’s products. One of the focuses was highlighting creative and safe toys, from simple building block systems for toddlers to more complex games for kids. Teens also were included with the very latest in electronic consoles and interactive games.
“The graphics today are really great, I like it. They are more realistic than ever: for example, if you are fouled during a football game it looks natural, you never do a flip over your head.”
One of the most anticipated games this year is a new tablet/console that will only hit the Czech market in late November:
“The cool thing about this console is that it shows something completely different than what is going on, on the big screen; you can view both at the same time: you can cycle through a list or choose options without having to click between the two.”
For smaller children, there are building systems using simple patents which prove easy to connect as well as all manners of toys encouraging creative approaches. By contrast, battery-operated toys have reportedly taken a big dip, far from the attractions they used to be.
“Faulty products are often imports from China, where it can be difficult to track down either the distributor or the producer.”
Now, if your kids are older and want a break from their computer screens, there is another solution: board games which have surged in popularity over the last five years on the Czech market. Families and other fans in Prague will want to mark down this Saturday which will see the opening of the 12th annual Mind Games Olympiad (Deskohraní) held at Prague’s Tyršův dum. Libor Pešl is Games Product Manager at popular games publisher Albi; when we spoke I asked him what board games offered compared to other entertainment:
How difficult is it to get new people involved? I know many people who know classics like Scrabble or Monopoly but don’t know much about hobby games…
“Actually, I think it has become easier and easier: the number of people interested in newer games has grown bigger and bigger and there are also clubs now and Czech websites dedicated to the hobby, so that has gotten the word out. This is the best way to spread new games. Primary and secondary schools also use some games for teaching purposes in classes, so that also helps.”
One of your newest products is the Czech edition of a game called Legends of Andor: what kind of a game is it?
“It is part of a genre known as cooperative games, this time set in a fantasy setting. There’s a lot of material inside and it is for 2 – 4 players and basically you are a band of heroes who must work together to defend a fantasy realm from invaders. You have to work together on an adventure to reach your goal; if you don’t fulfill the legends presented in the game, you will fail.”
“That’s right. Cooperation is crucial and you have to think about common strategy. We had another very popular release in the Czech Republic called Pandemic, where players had to fight breakouts worldwide, this is similar. People who are playing for the first time may be a little put off by the fact that they are playing against the game but they soon get used to it. It really works.”
The basic principle is that games like this, is that they are like a pressure cooker: they keep piling on tasks and increasing difficulty which inversely lessens chances for success: the window of opportunity doesn’t last for long. How hard is this game to beat?
“Actually, it offers different levels: in the beginning there are starter levels, a kind of tutorial level that teaches you the basics. As you continue, the difficulty increases. But that’s the point. It’s up to you, which level you choose.”
Deskohraní is just around the corner: how important is this annual event for Czech gamers, do you think?