Origame Meets is a series of conversations where we talk with like-minded folks from the industry and learn about their inspiration behind the work that they do.
Hot Banana Games is an up-and-coming Canadian board game publisher whose first game Steam Up! was a tremendous hit on Kickstarter. Colourful and authentic, Steam Up! is also very likely the first board game to ever feature plastic chicken feet. The Hot Banana Games team is comprised of Asians from many different cultural backgrounds, and Steam Up! reflects that proudly. We sat down with Pauline and Marie to learn more about their passion for dim sum and board games.
What drew you into hobby board games? What was the first game you played?
And what led you into the design side of things?
Pauline: As kids, we both played video games including games on the Atari, Final Fantasy on Playstation, and Super Mario on the Gameboy. I was first introduced to Ticket to Ride and Trains before falling in love with the board game hobby. I later met Marie at a badminton players gathering and then when we started hanging out, I introduced
Marie to Carcassonne.
One day after playing games at my place, we started talking about designing a board game. I happened to have on my table a drawing of different dim sum dishes that I drew back when I was in elementary school.
We know there are many existing Asian-themed board games, but we thought having a game designed by Asians who are from the culture is what makes Steam Up authentic.
How did the company "Hot Banana" come about? How did you come up with the
“Hot” describes us as passionate, motivated, good looking (haha), designers. “Banana” is something we call ourselves growing up as Asian Canadians.
Your game stands out as being very Chinese/Asian. I really enjoy all the small
accents you did to make the game unique. Which design choices were your favourite
and why were they important to you?
Part of the dining experience is incorporated into the game play which includes a turntable. In real life, diners fill their tables with assorted dim sum and spin the Lazy Susan (turntable) to put the food they want to eat in front of them. This is the main highlight of our game.
For players who have eaten dim sum before, we want their play of Steam Up to bring back memories of eating their favourite dishes. For players who are unfamiliar with this particular Chinese cuisine, we hope our game will spark gamers’ interest to have a food adventure
and go to a restaurant that serves traditional dim sum.
Are there any stories behind Steam Up and what are your personal must-haves
when in a dim sum restaurant?
There are many Easter Eggs we have put into Steam Up. We want it to be something for players to discover as they experience Steam Up. For example, our Lucky Die does not have a “4” as it symbolises “death” in the Asian culture.
My must-have is Cha Siu Bao and Marie's must-have is Siu Mai.
Of all the Asian board games out there, which one(s) is/are your favorite?
My favorite Asian themed games are Gomoku and Mahjong and Marie’s favorites are Chinese Checkers and Mahjong. My favorite non-Asian themed games are Lord of Waterdeep and Isle of Cats. Marie’s favorite non Asian themed game is Carcassonne.
What projects are you working on next? Can you tell us anything more about any
of your future releases?
We are currently just focusing on our first game, Steam Up. We hope to bring more
authentic Asian themed games in the future.