Kirsten Hiese is a German florist and game designer whose creations have earned her worldwide acclaim. Her most recent release--a stunningly beautiful board game called “#Kerala”--was a hit at the 2017 Toy Fair in New York City, and it is quickly gaining traction all over America.

Kirsten recently discussed her career, game creations, and her delight with the global success of “Kerala” in an exclusive #Interview.

Designing

Blasting News (BN): What prompted you to become a game designer and how many games have you produced?

Kirsten Hiese (KH): The first games I designed were made for my three children and just intended for family use.

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Later on, I read an article in some magazine or newspaper about how there is a job called the game designer. Until then, I didn't know about it. I got interested and decided to try inventing one.

Looking back, my first ideas for games weren't very good. By looking at different kinds of games and communicating with other game designers and editors, I learned a lot. In 2005 my first game for children was published by BELEDUC. So far, I have published twenty-one games, but “Kerala” is special since it’s my first game for the whole family.

BN: When you were a girl, what were your favorite games?

KH: Like in most families, we played the classic games like Ludo, Mastermind or Scrabble. The most important thing to us children was spending time together around the table. We enjoyed Romme’ and Uno too, even in the bath.

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When I grew older, Backgammon became my favorite game.

BN: How did you think up the concept for “Kerala”?

KH: The high level of tension in the game Carcassonne, created just by some tiles and figures, inspired me to make “Kerala.” I am fond of tactile games, and by growing a number of layered tiles, it keeps it challenging to optimize until the end. That’s what I tried to transfer to this latest game.

BN: How did you get Thames and Kosmos interested in producing the game?

KH: In 2015, I met the editor Ralph Querfurth at a meeting of the game designer in Göttingen and introduced him to my idea. At that time, the title was “Landgut, ” and my idea for the game had already passed some publishers without any success. Spontaneously, we played the game. Ralph liked the material, ut he asked me to reduce the rules. I did so, and he decided that his company would publish my game.

Games

BN: “Kerala” is a stunningly beautiful game so did you design all the visuals?

KH: The prototypes of my games, which I send to the editors, are all nicely visualized by me for the purpose of introducing potential publishers to the game.

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But then, when a publisher decides that a game will be put on the market, they depend on the art department to create the look. I think “Kerala” is an extraordinary example of what skilled illustrators can make happen. Besides the optical impression, a good illustrator supports the rules and is very much involved in the game. In the case of “Kerala”, I have good reasons to thank Antje and Claus Stephan for their excellent work!

BN: How long did it take you to create this game from the very beginning to its release?

KH: In the summer of 2012 I started to develop this game. In 2014, the editor Ralph Querfurth got involved with my project, and in February of 2016 “Kerala” was presented at the toy fair in Nuremberg. That same year it was elected as the “Game of Games” in Austria and now in 2017 it has been published in Spain and the United States where it is gaining popularity!

BN: Elephants are prominently featured in this game so do you have a special fondness for these creatures?

KH: Actually, the use of elephants in “Kerala” is the result of the team surrounding the editor Ralph Querfurth. In 2006, a company called Beleduc published “Bengali” which is a game I designed and elephants were part of an important meaning in that game. That was continued in the visuals for “Kerala” as was decided by the editors and graphic designers.

BN: What are the most rewarding aspects of being a professional game designer and what are your big goals for the future?

KH: Besides having a lot of creativity, a game designer should not have any fear of mathematics because both skills are helpful in designing games. Be aware of your surroundings since anything can be inspiration for a game. Designers also need to have a lot of patience; “Kerala” took about three and a half years from the idea until publishing to complete! In the end, game designers also need luck and the benefit of being at the right place at the right time.

As per the future, in 2018 a logic and riddle game is going to be published and some prototypes are in the last round of decision with editorial teams right now. At moment, I am also trying to develop a words riddle for newspapers or as an app; that is an entirely new kind of game for me. For all that to be successful is a big goal for me!