Thursday, September 15, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 6: Erik Andersson Sundén

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.

Name:Erik Andersson Sundén
Location:Uppsala, Sweden
Day Job:I'm a research engineer/physicist.
Designing:Two to five years.
Other:tabletop generation: erikas
Find my games at:Be patient. I hope it will eventually happen!
Today's Interview is with:

Erik Andersson Sundén
Interviewed on: 08/22/16

This is Erik Andersson Sundén, another game designer from Scandinavia! He's also been very active in many of the game design groups that I'm also a member of, so it's great to get to know a little more about him. Even if I pronounce the name for that snack he'd eat while playing Taluva totally different!
Have something else you'd like to ask that I didn't cover here? Go ahead and comment on this post. I'll ask the designers interviewed to answer any questions!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
The spark of my adult interest in game design was after I had built a programming interface to boardgamegeek where I was able to pull all kind of statistics out of the database. One thing that came out of my analysis was that two of my most loved game mechanisms are Simultaneous Action Selection as well as Worker Placement. My initial thought were "Too bad those can not be combined". After a few days I had build my first (unplayable) prototype.
What game or games are you currently working on?
"Space Zoo" and I just started on "Circus Royal" (inspired by Beatles For the benefit of Mr Kite)
Have you designed any games that have been published?
What is your day job?
I'm a research engineer/physicist.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home. In my own or others.
Who do you normally game with?
Family and friends.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'm an omnivore. ;-) I love to play the lighter games with my children (when time permits). My children likes The Resistance: Avalon, Quarriors, Animals upon Animals, as well as Dominion.

I am rarely as grateful and happy as after a game night with some heavier games. I'm a big fan of Uwe Rosenberg's creations, such as Agricola, Le Havre, as well as Ora et Labora. Taluva is a recent love of mine as well. Oh and I have some fond memories of Knizia's Ra.
And what snacks would you eat?
Salta pinnar (
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Some local shops here in Uppsala, Fantasia and Prisfyndet.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
For the lighter game my current favorite is The Resistance. For the heavier games I really don't know what to pick. My top three would probably include Lewis & Clark, Agricola, and Tzolk'in.

The worst game I ever played with quite high expectations is probably Duel of Ages II. I was lured there by Tom Vasel. Not my cup of tea - at all.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite mechanism is probably Simultaneous action selection, closely followed by Worker Placement.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I am blessed with having people around me that love games (almost) as much as I do. This has not been a problem so far.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Other Games?
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games
OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
I don't have enough experience to know. So far I have started with some mechanisms. However, my latest design is purely based on a theme. I am still looking for what mechanisms to choose to support it.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Knizia was a favorite of mine for a long time. Nowadays I am usually keeping an eye open whenever Uwe Rosenberg or Martin Wallace release new designs.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Either from a mechanism or from music. I have tried to design games based on some game design articles - without any great successes so far.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start playing the game by myself. I've tried to bring it to friends that enjoy being a part of the design process. So far I have not reached blind play testing. I do, however, plan to do so with Space Zoo "soon".
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I've only worked "alone" so far, apart from various play testers (Benny, Erik N, Erik W, and Henke B deserves a special mention here) that give me plenty of great feedback.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Translating play test feedback into good changes of the game. Oh, and make small changes from one play test to the other.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to make an Earthsea or Left hand of Darkness game, based on Ursula LeGuins excellent books.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
"Designing games is fun. You should try it!"
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Be passionate and share what you are doing with other designers. There are plenty of resources and networks to be involved with!
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Space Zoo
Games that I'm playtesting are: Space Zoo, hey wait I don't know if it belongs here or in the previous section!!
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: The Circus game
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Game Maker’s Lab

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars. But I think I would like Star Trek if I gave it a chance.

I tend to drink sparkling water.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm a father of three (and that takes some time) and I try to get out and run a few times a week.
What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned how to simulate Cherenkov light in a nuclear fuel pond.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I love various music styles. Right now I listen a lot to Beatles, Yann Tiersen, and Lars Winnerbäck. That is when I get to decide. More often I listen to songs from the Eurovision song contest.

I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as well as Ursula Le Guin's various books.
What was the last book you read?
PeKå Englunds "Född på en söndag" ("Born on a sunday")
Do you play any musical instruments?
I have played the violin and piano. That was a long time ago, though.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once traveled for more than five hours with a car radio on the highest volume due to some malfunctioning software. I was unable to turn the radio off, reduce the volume or change the radiostation during the entire trip. The icing on the cake was the last hours of dramatization of Kafka's The Process.
Who is your idol?
Ursula Le Guin (
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Try to understand how it works before entering.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm an extrovert.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I would problably be a plumber in red trousers and a big mustachio.
Have any pets?
If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
My wife and children! My play testing group (most prominently Benny, Erik, Erik, Shuan and Henrik).

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?


Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here:

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