*** UPDATE: Kings of Israel reprint and Wisdom of Solomon has hit Kickstarter, CHECK IT OUT ***

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?

Wisdom of Solomon was designed by Philip duBarry based on a game he released some years before through Minion Games called “Kingdom of Solomon”.  Wisdom of Solomon takes place in ancient Israel and has the players acting as governors, trying to expand King Solomon’s influence throughout Israel while building the Temple of Solomon.  At heart it is a worker placement game for 2-5 players with network building also involved.  The board game version will be on Kickstarter later this year, in the meantime I put the digital version of Wisdom of Solomon on Tabletopia to get more feedback and generate interest.
Was there anything about Solomon that prompted you to choose that for a theme?

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?

For Christian game developers I would say no.  For developers of Christian/Jewish games, yes.  Unless a person self publishes their game, a developer will have a hard time getting other publishers interested in releasing a Biblically themed game.  It could be that the publisher does not believe in the Bible and doesn’t want to release those types of games, or it could be that Biblically themed games are a such niche market within the gaming community that they aren’t sure if there is any money in it for them.  Even if a person self publishes, getting their game in distribution is difficult because of the same reasons publishers are not interested.
On the other hand, the gamers that want to play Biblically themed games can be very devoted and will sometimes be the best promoters you can find.  So it is not all bad!
What other games would you recommend that the readers would enjoy with their friends and families? 
If I am playing with newer gamers, there are a few games I almost always go to.  Cooperative games are a great place to begin, everyone wins and loses together and people can give each other guidance on their turns.  Two coop games I would suggest are Forbidden Desert or Codenames Duel.  Some games are so quick and easy that you can squeeze them in anytime, I suggest Spot It!, No Thanks!, and Love Letter for that.  You can’t go wrong with Ticket to Ride (in particular with 1910 expansion), Qwixx, Kingdomino, or Sushi Go Party!.  In a larger group I love Time’s Up!  Title Recall!, and if you by chance own a Crokinole board then leave it out and it will get used the entire night.
I am just realizing now that games with exclamation points are great with newer gamers.  There is a research paper in there somewhere.
I think that is it!  Thank you for reaching out to me!
Thank you for your time. All the best for your future and the future of Funhill Games. We pray that God continues to use you and your games in some amazing ways.