Written by Tunde Philips
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
This quote by Steve Jobs was why I kept smiling as guests trooped into Oshey bar, Lagos to celebrate the launch of Breakthrough with me. As I smiled, my mind raced back 20 years ago to the streets of Ikotun Egbe. Yes, that was where I had my first Breakthrough encounter with uncle Clifford, but my young brain couldn’t make much sense from what this uncle’s story was trying to teach me.
You see, Uncle Clifford lived on the same compound as my grandfather. His apartment was a single room which usually smells nice whenever I get an opportunity to peep in. Although I could tell (as a 6year old) that he lived quite better than other neighbours, one thing usually gets me puzzled. Uncle Clifford seemed to live way below the standard of Uncle Femi and Uncle Yemi, his two closest friends who usually visit in their respective cars.
13 years later, in my sophomore year at the University of Lagos studying economics, my understanding of life had improved drastically but uncle Clifford’s lifestyle hadn’t. In fact, it grew worse. His friends were no longer visiting. I’d later learn that he died of an avoidable ailment shortly afterwards.
The picture became clearer. Uncle Clifford wasn’t lazy. In fact, he was earning reasonably well. The only problem was that Nigeria was dealing with him and there weren’t enough tools in his arsenal to fight back.
I felt I could do something to reach out to many other potential Cliffords, Femis, and Yemis out there. I needed to let them know how different our realities are even when we all seem to be on the same pedestals (such as the same class in school, the same level at work etc)in many areas of life.
If I wrote a book to address this, I’d mostly focus on topics like the effects of multidimensional poverty or on social class inequality but I suspect they’d just form a part of the existing bodies of work lying helplessly and gathering dust around university faculties across the country. Writing a long-form article might be featured in respected publications but the problem with that is the shelf life- people will read, reflect for some seconds then flip the page for more stories.
Let me create a game.
That way, people can have fun while having sincere conversations around real issues that affect all of us in ways more than we can imagine.
A lot of times, I see people dragging other people for riding on privileges on their journey to making it. On the flipside, I’ve also seen people with privileges making unfair assumptions about the life of less privileged folks.
Stage 1: A call for help
So I reached out to Bukola (my ever-reliable PA). Told her about my plans of creating a board game by the end of the second quarter of 2021. I didn’t tell her what the game would be about. I just wanted her to focus on managing my timelines and keep me disciplined.
Stage 2: Roadmap Planning
The next day, I created a project roadmap that mapped out what I want to do every week regarding game creation. I still didn’t know what this game would look like but I knew what I wanted it to be about.
Stage 3: Study of existing bodies of work
So for the first 2 weeks, I read about 200 articles on some of the best games around the world to understand their mechanics and gameplay. I also Read about why successful games were successful and why others failed.
Stage 4: Interviews and Surveys
Since I was building a game targeted at creating awareness about a real societal issue, it only made sense to conduct a talk to as many people as possible. So I moved around Lagos talking to people across different family backgrounds, trying to know what their realities are. I did this for another 2 weeks. The more I did this, the clearer the game concept became.
Stage 5: Prototyping
I proceeded to build the prototype the following week. It was ugly but I knew I was making progress. I didn’t stop reading and asking questions.
Stage 6: Playtesting & Feedback
By the middle of July, my prototype was ready for playtesting, so I reached out to a few friends to see if they could help me and they gladly did so. I got loads of feedback from this process and I continued making adjustments as the feedback came. By the end of the playtesting, I had had about 3 versions of the game and had changed the rules like 5 times.
Stage 7: Design
My prototype was still an eyesore so I started thinking about what the design will look like because this is as crucial as the entire game mechanics. Just like a movie/book cover; If it isn’t appealing enough, people won’t want to play. I reached out to my Ayodele Awolowo designer and briefed him on what I want. He understood the assignment well because he was a part of the earliest respondents during my survey. He set to work and produced the first design after 2 weeks. I loved it and gave a few suggestions. He returned 3 days later with a mad ass design.
Stage 8: Playtesting 2.0
Now that we have a design. I proceeded to do blind playtesting- a situation where I sent the game to someone who isn’t my friend or an acquaintance but has a solid sense of judgement. I sent the game and the manual to Adele Abati, one of the top open-source developers In Nigeria who works at Flutterwave. His feedback gave me the boost I needed to commence the pre-launch sales.
Stage 9: Pre-launch Sales
I invested my savings in producing 50 copies of the game. I was able to sell 11 copies of the game before launch
The first copy of the game was bought from Canada.25 of the remaining 39 boxes were taken to the launch and all of them were sold.
At the moment, conversations are ongoing with game suppliers and distributors across the country.
I really want to say a big shout to Monisola, Aisha, Tolu, Kehinde, Adesi, IBK, Humans of Printivo, Amaka, Nike, Ope, Shola, Noah, Niyi, Marshal, Dami, Ben, Dosh, Lekan, Funmi, Jaydee, Joy, Funmi Onaks, Phillips, The Apenuwas, Wasiu, DammyKrane, Ekundayo, Shakirat, Ayo, Debisi, Wunmi, Ezinne, ItzNike, Abideen, Kaleb, Ojoade and everyone who has supported me in one way or the other with the Breakthrough Game.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org,