How an English Springer Spaniel Helped Create the Dog Park Game

How an English Springer Spaniel Helped Create the Dog Park Game

Underdog Games Underdog Games

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Meet Lottie Hazell, co-founder of Birdwood Games and co-creator of the Dog Park game. Here, Lottie shares the inspiration behind Dog Park, her thoughts on the board game industry, and offers advice to would-be game makers. She also shares insights on what it's like to be a female game designer in a male-dominated industry. If you're a dog person, the new Dog Park game will make a great addition to your board game collection. Thanks for answering our questions, Lottie! 

Tell us about your game, Dog Park. How did it come about?

Honestly? From a stone-cold obsession with my own English Springer Spaniel, Rupert. My husband Jack–who is my partner in life and business and is the co-designer of Dog Park–and I have always enjoyed designing games together. When Rupert came into our lives our attention quickly turned to dogs and our national–international– adoration of them. I knew there would be other dog nerds out there who would also like to play a game surrounded by 221 unique dog cards. Once the idea took hold, I knew we had to make it.

What's a go-to board game for you?

Can I have three answers? If I want something quick, it's Ganz Schon Clever (any of the trilogy will do, but I particularly enjoy Doppelt so Clever). If I'm looking for something that will take 40 minutes or so, I currently love Cascadia. And if I want a longer experience–well over an hour–you can never go wrong with a game of Scythe in my opinion.

Do you have any advice for others who want to work in the game industry?

Work out what you'd like to do within the industry. There are plenty of jobs that go beyond board game designer or publisher. Do you have experience in marketing in another field, for example? Could that be transferred into the board game space? Think laterally about what opportunities you might be interested in and follow your favourite publishers to keep an eye on job or volunteering opportunities to get your foot in the door. There are plenty of great people on Twitter that speak about their experiences working in the game industry. Some of my favourites are Danni Loe, Ross at More Games Pls, and Caryl Tan.

What would you like to see change about the board game industry?

Foremost I would like to see our industry reflect the diverse and beautiful societies we live in. I'd particularly like to see more female identifying designers. On a more game-related note, I would love to see more games published that are based on peoples' interests. I enjoy games that are set in sci-fi and fantasy worlds, but I am keen to see more games that reflect our real-life hobbies. Pandasaurus is doing some cool stuff in this area at the moment with their Skate Summer and their Ski Fest games, for example.

What is it about board games that you love?

It is a special thing to spend a Sunday afternoon–my favourite gaming time–delving into a different world. The imagination and vivacity of board game publishing surprises and delights me every time I sit down to play a game, old or new. As a fairly analogue person, I also enjoy the opportunity to connect with my loved ones over the table and a physical object. It's such a convivial experience.

What's a hobby you're into that's NOT related to board games?

I love story-telling in any format. When I'm not getting my fix via board games I'm a voracious reader and film and television watcher. I could talk about what you're reading for hours.

What's it like working in an industry dominated by men?

For the majority of my working life, it is fairly unremarkable. I am fortunate that all of my colleagues–regardless of their gender–are talented, considerate, funny, and a joy to work with. However, the industry can be, at times, an intimidating space as a minority professional. I am glad to say that these moments of intimidation are becoming rarer and that's because of the incredible women this industry is already lucky to have. If you're looking to inspire and surround yourself with more women and non-binary board game professionals, I encourage you to browse these Board Game Geek lists that Elizabeth Hargrave created. It's a very cool place to hang out on the internet, in my opinion.

What are you working on anything new?

Currently, I'm working on developing the expansions for Dog Park (more = more when it comes to dogs, right?), but I am also starting the art direction for another project. It is one of my guiltiest pleasures to put together moodboards for a dream project when I'm supposed to be working on something else. I'm always scrolling Instagram and Twitter for new-to-me artists that I'd love to work with.

Do you have a project, website, or social media you'd like others to know about?

If you're interested in Dog Park and missed our Kickstarter campaign, I encourage you to sign up to our newsletter, where we'll be sharing news about its retail release very soon. You're also welcome to follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

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