Viva l'Italia - an interview with Pietro Turri, Italian translator of our Famous card games 0 Comments
Hey Famous Fans! I've got a great interview to share with you. It's with Pietro Turri, one of our fans from Italy who reached out and asked if he could translate our QuickStart cards into his native tongue. He's heavily involved in the Italian gaming community and wanted to make our Famous Games even easier to demo and teach at gaming events he attends all across the country. Pietro's a fascinating fellow and had some wonderful insights to share about Italy's passion for great two-player games. I'm sure you'll enjoy the interview as much as I did...
ROB: Hi Pietro, thanks for the interview. You’ve just done a wonderful job of translating our Famous Games line of two player sports card games into Italian and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know you a little better and share your story with our Famous Fans here in North America. Perhaps you can start things off by telling us a little bit about yourself.
PIETRO: Hi Rob, my name is Pietro Turri and I live in a sleepy little hill town called Dovadola in the Italian countryside. Bologna and Florence are a couple of the larger cities nearby that your readers may recognize. I work as a graphic designer with a friend of mine and comics, wargames and videogames are some of my favorite hobbies. My brother Claudio and I develop indie videogames under the Miciosegone Games brand and we just released our tenth title this April. What about you? When was Famous Games born? Are you running the company full-time or do you have other work?
ROB: I designed Famous Fastballs, the first game in the series, back in 2008. I officially launched the company two years later, selling them to local businesses to use as branded promotional products. The games spread naturally from there and started gaining a fan following so, based on popular demand, I launched the retail editions late this year - our new website just went live a little over a month ago. The Famous Games Company isn’t a full-time project for me quite yet but I officially left my 15-year career in the video game industry last summer (I worked as a senior writer, designer, and producer with Electronic Arts) to ensure I had the creative freedom I needed to make these new retail editions a reality. I currently manage a wonderful online marketing team during the day and spend my nights working hard on my Famous Games projects. Speaking of hard work, translating a game, even small card games like ours, is no small task. How did you handle the translation process and who did you have in place to help you along the way?
PIETRO: Well I started with the English text from the QuickStart cards you include with each game. Those two cards contain all of the core rules that people need to know to play your games. I then made a first-pass translation of that text and shared it with my colleagues, Federico Peluso and Simone Poggi who reviewed it for translation errors. After those corrections were made, we reviewed the Italian text a second time to catch an spelling errors. You had provided me with blank templates of the printable QuickStart files for each game so the final step was to use my graphic design software to properly arrange the Italian text on those printable cards. My colleagues and I are really happy with how the translations have turned out and I think that this having these QuickStart cards available in translation will play an important role in spreading your Famous Games throughout Italy. Now that the games have greater visibility within the Italian gamer community, I’m sure that they’ll spread quickly. I was very fortunate to have friends in the Italian gaming community to help me with the translations. Who have you had to help you with developing your Famous Games line?
ROB: Famous Games Co. may seem like a one-man show on paper - I design the games, I create all the art, I source all the manufacturing, I build the website and Coach's interactive tutorials, I send out the orders, I do all the taxes... The truth, however, is that I receive a lot of wonderful help from a number of different sources. I work very closely with an excellent and talented game design collective called the Game Artisans of Canada. We’re constantly playtesting each other’s work and offering design feedback, as well as discussing the ins and outs of the industry, discussing business plans, and helping each other out in any way we can. So that’s been invaluable. Also, to help grow the business, I’ve just brought on an old friend of mine from the video game industry to help with some of the communications and community building elements that Famous Games needs moving forward. He and I have done a lot of creative projects together in the past and he’s really passionate about our games so I’m really excited to have him on board. Speaking of being passionate about the games, it takes a certain amount of passion to reach out to a publisher and ask to translate their games. What was it about our Famous Games line that convinced you it was important to make them available to Italian audiences?
PIETRO: One of my good friends pre-ordered your full set of games this summer. I was over at his house one afternoon and we ended up playing all six of them, one after the other, over the course of a couple of hours. It was awesome! You’ve designed a really diverse set of sports games, all of them really simple, fun, competitive and easy to learn. The most impressive thing is that you’ve managed to synthesize complicated sports like baseball and football using so few materials. What role did these sports play in your life, growing up?
ROB: I grew up in Saskatchewan, a small prairie province here in Canada. Because of the low and mostly rural population, we didn’t really have any professional sports teams, except one - the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a perennial underdog in the Canadian Football League. Because they were the only team we had, however, the entire province loved them, win or lose. You can imagine the excitement when I was in high school and they won the coveted Grey Cup for only the second time in their almost 100-year history. To this day, sales of Roughrider-branded merchandise is more than twice that of the entire rest of the league combined, a level comparable to the top teams in the much larger National Football League in the United States. Individual players have candy and breakfast cereals named after them, it’s just that kind of place. My football game, Famous First Downs, was definitely the toughest to design - I was so passionate and there was just so much that I wanted to squeeze into the game. I ultimately had to shift over to designing it according to NFL rather than CFL rules, just to give myself the emotional distance I needed to do it right.
PIETRO: Famous First Downs definitely requires the most coins as playing pieces! But all of the games are played with only 11 cards. What drove your decision to design all of these games using such a tiny set of components? Where did your first game ideas come from?
ROB: Some of the inspiration actually came from Italy, to be honest - publisher Editrice daVinci released a series of bonsai games in 2004 through 2006, each consisting of just a single playing card. Compared to those, an entire letter-size sheet of nine playing cards seemed like quite the luxury to work with (the two additional QuickStart cards were only added this past year)! Ultimately, I knew I wanted to try my hand at publishing so I decided it was best to start small. I definitely find that tight design constraints like this really force me to be creative and come up with unique mechanics. Now I'm hooked on the idea and just really enjoy designing these tiny little sports games in the Famous Games format. I've found that there've been a lot of great practical benefits as well. Tiny, quick-playing two-player games like these are certainly a lot easier to playtest and iterate on, for instance. I didn't have an art background when I started, either, so the smaller number of cards definitely made the project seem a lot less daunting to undertake. And then there are all the benefits when it comes to product costs and shipping methods. You just received a set of six games from us, for example, and the overseas shipping cost on that is currently set at $4.99. How long did it take for them to arrive and what was the shipping experience like?
PIETRO: The games arrived one week after you shipped them out. All six games came in a single letter envelope, perfectly sealed, and there were no import fees. Honestly, for overseas customers like myself, the most amazing characteristics of your Famous Games line is just how small and inexpensive they are, even after you include the shipping costs. Here in Italy, even the least expensive card games cost the same as three or four of yours combined.
ROB: Italy’s actually our largest overseas market and a big source of traffic to our website. As I mentioned, I received some of my inspiration for my Famous Games from Italy and I know there’s a long history of great Italian designers and publishers. Do you have any favorite Italian games that you’d like to recommend to us here in North America?
PIETRO: I’m a big fan of war games. Ganesha Games has a lot of great ones. Anticamente by TBLine is another one I really enjoy. And then there’s WarAngel by Angelo Porazzi, which won a bunch of Best Italian Game awards in 2000.
ROB: Yeah, Angelo’s designed a few sports games as well. His newest game, Coach, is all about American Football. Fans of my Famous First Downs game should check it out. From the sounds of it, you play a lot of two-player games. Who do you typically play with and can you share a little bit about the role games have played in those relationships?
PIETRO: Games have always been a big deal for my brother Claudio and I. We’ve always played a lot of video games together but when they get boring or we need a break, we switch over to board games which offer a lighter experience. I have a lot of great two player games for just that occasion. Games have played a big role in my other other relationships as well - I got to know most of my best friends through board games, war games, and role playing games. I met my boss at my local games club, too, over an aerial dogfighting board game called Blue Max.
ROB: Yes, tell me about this board game club you’re a part of. It’s not just local to Dovadola, right? You guys run all manner of events all across Italy.
PIETRO: Tana die Goblin is the biggest game organization in Italy and consists of over 30 affiliated clubs representing over 15,000 gamers. We translate foreign games and create helpful resources for Italian audiences. And we also organize or participate in all the major Italian gaming events, providing family-friendly demo areas where we introduce visitors to new games like yours. How has the board game community reacted to your games in North America?
ROB: It’s been interesting. When I started the company, I was selling the games to corporate clients and event staff for promotional use. Sometimes they were game players themselves but often not. That’s where the interactive tutorials came in - experienced players had no problem learning from a written rulesheet but, for the more casual audiences I was trying to reach, even a simple 2-page rulesheet was very intimidating. It’s the same idea as your demoing games to new players at your events - people learn best from a mentor or coach, so I found a way to reproduce that on our website. So what sort of demos do you have in mind for our Famous sports games? Do you have any tips for others wanting to demo our games in their corner of the world?
PIETRO: The ideal demo game is both simple to teach yet fun to play. Your Famous Games are perfect for this. At our events, we get a lot of couples, best friends and fathers and sons who come in search of a quick game for two players. Definitely recommend Famous Games in those circumstances. Players will enjoy it so much that they’ll insist on a rematch and play it again immediately.
ROB: That’s the wonderful thing about quick little sports games like these. They just naturally bring out that friendly sense of rivalry and encourage repeat play like that. If you get a chance, I definitely encourage you to try your hand at running some leagues and tournaments.
PIETRO: Absolutely. In the meantime, can you give us a little spoiler about what we can expect next from Famous Games Co.?
ROB: I try to design one new Famous Game each year and I’ve been meaning to tackle some more European-influenced sports like soccer and cricket sometime soon. Canadian football and ice hockey are both high on my list as well. To be honest, however, I’ll probably use this next year to really focus on fleshing out the new website and growing the business. I need to hammer out the details of my wholesale program, for instance, and update those tutorials to bring them in line with the new editions. Also, all of the games require players to provide their own coins to use as playing tokens so I’d like to provide an optional cardboard coins expansion for those who want that extra little bit of convenience. This becomes increasingly important as the games reach a growing international audience, as not all countries have the same types of coins we have here in North America.
PIETRO: Well thank you, Rob! This has been a great opportunity and I really appreciate all your kindness and collaboration on this Italian translation project. I look forward to many more awesome sports games from Famous Games Company in the years to come!
ROB: It’s been a pleasure, Pietro. Thanks for reaching out and offering to help. I really appreciate all the enthusiasm you and your colleagues at Tana die Goblin have shown for my games and I know your hard work on the translations will bring a lot of joy to the Italian gaming community. Keep in touch!
Rob Bartel, founder
Famous Games Co.