Lance Hill is the president of Funhill Games. He has previously designed and published the game called ‘Kings of Israel’ which found success in both christian and non-christian circles. He is currently involved in the production of the new game ‘Wisdom of Solomon’
Can you give us a brief history of yourself and where Funhill Games came from?
A few years ago, I was leading a teen Bible study and decided I wanted to incorporate games into the study so that the teens could learn some of Israel’s geography. I had a hard time finding a game I could use for that purpose, so I created a game called “Kings of Israel” that did just that. After working on it for sometime, I decided that I should try Kickstarting the game and release it to the public. So that is where Funhill Games began!
You have recently released a digital version of a new game Wisdom of Solomon on Tabletopia for people to try out. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Philip duBarry was the designer so you would have to ask him that. But I think the appeal of that time period is that Israel’s reach and power was at its peak. There were big projects going on at the time, namely the Temple of Solomon, while other nations were very interested in what was happening there. But it was such a brief period of Israel’s time and knowing what will happen soon after Solomon passes gives this time period a bittersweet feeling to it.
What’s next for Wisdom of Solomon?
After getting a little more feedback on Tabletopia, preview copies will be sent out to reviewers for the Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter campaign will coincide with the next printing of Kings of Israel, which has been out-of-print for awhile now. Assuming a successful campaign, the games will be printed and released at the same time, hopefully before the end of the year.
How important is a christian theme when it comes to titles by Funhill Games? Is it just about general fun or are you hoping each game teaches something biblically?
Originally I was going to release games without a Biblical theme, but as I worked on other games I felt like that was not my real focus and that I wanted to only release games with a Biblical theme. So my goal is to release fun Biblically themed games that at the same time players can learn something while playing it. So in Wisdom of Solomon there are Biblical quotes for theme and players will likely learn region names of Israel but most of all players will get to have a fun time.
You have a game called Kings of Israel. How was the game received amongst Non-Christian players? Why might someone who is not a believer be hesitant about trying a game with a biblical theme?
Kings of Israel was pretty well received by non-Christians/Jewish gamers. I made sure to get at least one review from the perspective of an atheist prior to the Kickstarter campaign and he enjoyed it! (It was Rahdo Runs Through by the way.) Some people don’t want to play Kings of Israel because they are disinterested in the theme or think the game is trying to convert them, but I would say they are in the minority. That, and Biblically themed games have almost always been terrible. So hopefully we can get a few good game designers to start focusing on this genre to help raise the profile of these types of games.
Does this make the design process more difficult?
In designing a game with a Biblical theme, there is the problem of creating a game that goes against what was stated in the Bible. But decisions need to be created in a board game and decisions create different outcomes so in your game, for example, Moses might fail at parting the Red Sea and that is the way it is. But I think those kinds of things are fine as long as long as the game is just showing what might have been. I think for some people games can help them get more engrossed in the events of the Bible by capturing these what-if moments from the viewpoints of the people that would have been involved.
Are there obstacles for christians within the game industry?