By Quirijn Van Woerkom (Business manager)

When I was asked to take over the task of Business Manager of the Da Vinci Satellite team, I had very little knowledge about what that would entail. I was told I would be responsible for the financial and public relations teams, and that I would learn a lot about what goes into launching a satellite; after all, there is a lot more to it than just designing the thing! I would get in contact with a lot of partners in the industry, I would go to network events and perhaps I would get to know some people in the industry along the way as well. What I did not expect, however, is that in the process of launching a satellite I would find myself at a board game fair.

Yet, that is precisely where I found myself last month. As you might be aware, one of the payloads on our satellite is a set of dice, intended to make the abstract and distant subject of spaceflight approachable, tangible and reachable to the younger generation: if you can play games in space, it mustn’t be so far away after all! To accompany this set of spacefaring dice, we intend to create a board game that students can use them in. To find partners interested in fleshing out this educational game to go along with this payload, then, I set off to the “Spellenspektakel” (“board game spectacle”) in Utrecht along with my colleagues Floor (our team’s Educational Manager) and Aïcha (who’s in the Primary School team).

Our first stop: educational board games, or “serious gaming”. Games have for a long time been acknowledged to have educational value, and so the industry has picked up on that as well: so much, even, that the fair had an entire section dedicated to education-oriented games and companies. Here, we spoke to a variety of people who, develop, work with and even write about games intended to help children (and adults!) learn in an engaging manner. Here, I found out that my mental arithmetic skills aren’t as good as they should be; fortunately, I also found out that there’s a great deal of ways to practice them while having fun!

Now, we couldn’t go to a board game fair and let it be all business; just as learning can be made fun by playing games, so could our business trip be made fun too! And so we went and played as many space-related games as we could find; after all, we are still a satellite team. After playing everything even remotely related to space, we did some more exploring and even found a shop that sold Star Wars figurines! Unfortunately, given their price range, I couldn’t do more than gawk at them (to the annoyance of my companions) and we moved on to the next item on our list.

Given that we are looking to create our own game, what better place is there to learn how to do so but the place where other game-creators congregate? And so, we went on to the board game-creator’s guild, where a lot of creative souls gather to pitch their board game ideas, be it to prospective players or to companies willing to help them develop and publish their ideas. Ever wondered where your favourite board games were born? This is where! Here, we could playtest a variety of unique, new games such as Qbuss by Wouter-Job Jongeneel (on the right you can see Aïcha and me giving it a try), which is a game I would absolutely recommend to anybody who likes complex, creative games (though it hasn’t yet been published: be on the lookout for when it does!).

All in all, we had a marvellous day that comprised both a lot of productive talking and learning from people in the industry as well as a lot of fun discovering and playing new board games. Who knew that in the process of helping launch a satellite we would find ourselves at the largest board game fair in the Benelux? I certainly hadn’t expected to when I initially decided to join the Da Vinci Satellite team!

See you around!