Belfast Telegraph

It's game on as Pratchett's Discworld is brought to life

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland firms are bringing fantasy land Discworld to life with a board game version of one of cult novelist Sir Terry Pratchett's novels.

In a story akin to a quest from the book series, David Bradshaw and Leonard Boyd of Backspindle Games Ltd took almost 20 years to bring 'Guards! Guards!' to market.

They've now teamed up with a Belfast digital agency to sell the product - based on the eighth Discworld book - which is proving a hit at big gaming conventions all over the world.

Leonard, from Newtownards, first approached the author during a signing in Easons in Belfast back in 1995.

"Guards! Guards! came out in 1989 and I had made the game as a hobby a few years previously," he said.

"When I heard Terry would be in Belfast I thought I would bring it along and show it to him.

"He said it was one of the better board games he had seen based on his books but he could not automatically hand out a license and we needed to get the backing of a big games company.

"We approached some major companies like Waddingtons and Monopoly but they were not interested, so it was left on the shelf for a few years."

In 2006, 11 years later, the pair began working on the game in earnest following huge changes in the board game market and, following a series of knock-backs, finally got the answer they were looking for at a games convention in Germany in 2008.

After a number of re-drafts the game was finally picked up by Z-Man Games.

A license soon followed from the Pratchett empire and the game will finally be going on sale at the beginning of September. The game even has illustrations from Discworld artist Stephen Players.

Keeping local links, Belfast firm Gravity was selected to run a website, online shop and smartphone app for the game.

The site will market and sell the board game to the US and Europe and will also sell related promotional material such as T-shirts and bookmarks.

Gravity will also carry out a social media strategy to use sites such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, podcasts and online forums to market the game.

The firm has also carried out work for Kia Motors, defibrillator maker HeartSine Technologies and Galgorm Resort -amp; Spa.

'Guards! Guards!' was premiered at a Discworld convention in Madison, Wisconsin, three weeks ago and is expected to get a UK launch at Belfast's own TitanCon in September.

"It's been a long road but we are so glad it is finally coming to life and it has Terry's blessing," said Leonard.

"We have been testing it out on gamers all over the world and are delighted with the response."

The £34.99 game sees players taking on the role of newly recruited members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.

With eight spells missing on the journey to save Discworld, the players are faced with the many hazards of everyday life in Ankh-Morpork, Discworld's oldest, grubbiest and least law-abiding city.

The game can be checked out online by visiting www. guardsguards.com.

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