Games taken to new level

20:18, Sep 06 2012
Julia Schilla and Amanda Milne
FUN AND GAMES: Game designers Julia Schilla and Amanda Milne turned their love of board games into a business and created Komodo and Raid the Pantry last year.

Two fiercely competitive friends have taken their love of board games to a new level.

Julia Schiller of St Heliers and Amanda Milne spent the last year developing two award-winning board games.

The pair met through Mensa, the international high IQ society, after immigrating to New Zealand from the United States and England.

Mrs Schiller was born and raised in Baltimore and always enjoyed playing games with her competitive parents. She was a personal assistant to an orthodox rabbi and a teacher of English as a second language before turning to game design.

"I play Scrabble competitively and enjoy pub quizzes. Board games are such a good investment because they're different each time you play them. I think people are unaware of the strides that have been made in board games over time."

Their gaming company SchilMil was formed on a rainy winter day last June.

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"We had some time on our hands a year ago and we thought: ‘We like games so much why don't we invent some?'

"We didn't imagine the hard work ahead but it took nine months, a full and busy gestation period, and our first two creations are here."

Komodo is a game of strategy and survival. It's based on the premise that an asteroid is headed for the South Pacific and the fate of all Australasian animals lies in the hands of the players. The mission is to race your opponents to save as many creatures as possible.

It won Game of the Year and the Children's Choice at the New Zealand Games Association awards last month.

Raid the Pantry is a cooking card game for up to four players. Players haggle, steal and even dumpster dive to collect ingredient cards to assemble enough dishes to reach the winning score.

"Both are tacitly educational. When I went to school there was no talk about the environment and the planet - you'd have to read a book or watch a documentary but we've included a mix of familiar and exotic animals to provoke curiosity," Mrs Schiller says.

It took months of playing the games among family and friends then collecting public feedback before the games were ready for publishing.

A thousand copies of the games were released in New Zealand stores in May and will be sold in Australia soon. A third game called Kenakalan will be released later this year.

Ms Milne hosts games nights at her Birkenhead home for Mensa members.

"Sometimes strangers will turn up for games night and sometimes you get some strange people turning up. I think there's not enough fun in people's lives.

"We have neighbours that we got to know by playing games with them and I think it's under-rated as a social medium.

"Our aim is to create games that are aesthetically pleasing, offer a different experience each time and successfully tread the fine line between strategy and chance," she says.

See www.schilmilgames.com for more information.

East And Bays Courier