A new adult board game, developed in Manila and cheekily dubbed Happy Ending, is promising to give couples around the world — or groups, if you’re into that kind of thing — an erotic kick in the pants, without crossing the lines of consent.
Created by entrepreneur and board game aficionado Birdie Salva, the game’s objective is to help a ghost stuck on earth — a Hornygeist, in the parlance of the game — move on to the next world by performing all of his requests, from sharing sexual fetishes, to stripping and kissing. But rather than immediately devolving into sophomoric hump-fest, the game seeks to inject a little seduction into the mix, while also keeping in mind the importance of consent — if players start making out without approval from the Hornygeist, for instance, it’s game over.
Salva described the game as “a test of restraint and willpower. The game will get you aroused, and you’ll just have to not give in.”
The game, priced at US$32, is now available for pre-order, and will be shipped out in December.
Coconuts Manila interviewed Salva via email to learn a little more about Happy Ending, which might well be the only Filipino-made game of its kind.
What inspired you to make this board game?
I’ve always considered myself a gamer, in that I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of card, board, and video games. In the pre-internet (and [blackout]) age of the ‘80s-‘90s, I played a lot of board games that not only charmed me with beautiful physical components and production values, but piqued my highly active imagination through unique stories.
Around 2010, I rekindled my love for board games when a fresh wave of titles like Catan and Dominion arrived in the market. These were exciting and were nothing like their older, Monopoly-generation counterparts. Having had such a strong interest in games all my life, I wondered then if I might be able to create my own someday.
In 2016, I finally had some free time and tried designing my first game — it didn’t turn out so well, though, because it was math-heavy and involved formulas I wasn’t ready to tackle. I parked that project, and in 2018, I decided to try again. This time, it would be a game that didn’t involve math. It would be a purely social one — something that was less mental, involved less strategy, and was fun to play, like the popular Cards Against Humanity.
Why a ghost-themed board game?
First of all, I wanted a theme I was pretty familiar with and saw an opportunity in the adult category. I envisioned an erotic adult game that I myself would find interesting to play — something that was tasteful, had a sense of humor, and wasn’t creepy or vulgar. Checking online, most adult games lacked mechanics that interested me; a lot were simply focused on getting players to have sex as quickly as possible. Where was the tension, the seduction? There was no fun in that. I wanted players to experience sexual tension and arousal in a uniquely fun, safe environment. That became my core design objective.
Because of the nature of the game, I needed to make sure that stripping would be involved. Now, there had to be a reason for people to remove their clothes, and I thought: what if a naughty poltergeist was taking off people’s clothes because it was turned on by them? And so, the Hornygeist was born.
Take us through the creation of the board game—from the creation of the graphics to testing.
I followed my own practice as a design researcher to constantly improve on the design, values, and mechanics of the game. In March 2018, I came up with a written concept and rough prototype, and showed the early versions of the game to friends who’d give me constructive feedback. At first, the ghost was a troublemaker who had to be banished, and I originally titled the game “Hornygeist.” But as I showed the concept to more people, the name sounded awkward and made the game difficult to get excited about. Changing the name to “Happy Ending” was perfect — it was witty and suggestive without being overly sexual. The tone of the game changed, too: the ghost that once had to be eliminated was now a spirit that needed help with moving on.
The entire process (from concept to final output) took about 20 months. We considered a lot of people’s feedback, came up with several prototypes, and went through numerous rounds of play-testing to iron out the kinks (pun intended). There were no shortcuts. Going through the whole process, and especially powering through the difficult moments, was what refined the components and gameplay.
What has been the feedback of players, male and female?
Feedback was very positive, especially as we kept improving the game through its iterations. (We also learned early on that, yes, there were quite a lot of horny people out there!) Initially, some felt that it was a little too quick and easy, so we addressed this by incorporating escalating “difficulty levels” within the game. It worked!
Overall, people loved that it was classy, elegant, gender-inclusive, and not forceful or aggressive. Couples found the game a great way to spice up their relationship. (Were people turned on? Definitely.) The ghost was cheeky and endearing, and the visuals had a “softness” about it that helped players open up and feel less intimidated by the theme. The best part? People had fun!
Ever tried playing a kinky game like this one? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting @CoconutsManila.
NOTE: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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