Our Meeple Gamer editor, Josh Hale, is at Origins and had the pleasure of interviewing Michael J. Fox and Rory O’Connor from Hub Games, formerly known as The Creativity Hub. Michael and Rory are the masterminds behind the upcoming game, Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr. You may be familiar with Rory O’Connor, the designer of Rory’s Story Cubes, which can be played as a game or the cubes can be used as problem solvers and as a way to boost your imagination. If you have not seen Rory’s Story Cubes, you should really check them out. Josh met with these designers to discuss their upcoming release of Holding On. I had the enjoyment of listening to this interview and I am very excited for the future it can bring to the hobby of board gaming.
Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr is going to take board gaming to a new level. The game is cooperative where players are the nursing staff at a hospital when a patient, Billy Kerr, arrives after having a heart attack on a flight from Sidney to London. The doctors have given Billy days to live but he insists that it is not time to go until he sets things right. The game plays out over 10 scenarios and you cannot advance to a new scenario until the objective for each scenario is completed. Billy’s story is played out in each of these ten scenarios. However, the problem is he may not be telling you the whole story all the time.
Michael and Rory have pitched the game as a story of the extraordinary life of an ordinary person. They set out to create a game that makes players really consider how they would make decisions in a real life situation. The game is designed to challenge players to be torn between emotional and logical choices while helping Billy Kerr. Players have the chance to bring part of their personalities to the game through the choices they make. Holding On is supposed to encourage players to engage in conversations and leave players pondering what they just encountered. Books and movies have been entertaining people for decades about real life scenarios so why can’t games do this?
The original game story was developed around Alzheimer’s, due to Rory O’Connor having a personal connection to people with this horrible disease. Eventually, the game became more about memories and realizing that your childhood could have a significant influence on your adulthood. They wanted to move away from a sad and depressing idea of memory to a celebration of life. During early play testing, one of the members of their team actually wanted to get in touch with their grandparents. And so the game continued to develop and Michael and Rory knew that if it caused players to have a discussion with their loved ones and their stories, then they were creating something important and meaningful.
Rory told Josh that his interest has always been to make people think differently about themselves and the world around them and that was actually always the motto of the Creativity Hub. From listening to both Michael and Rory, I believe they have done just that with Holding On. I am very intrigued about this game and I am anxious to try it out. Just listening to the interview about this game has already encouraged me to be more a part of my family’s lives. I come from a somewhat large family and I strive to show up for everything but it is very important to show up when not expected, especially for the elderly. Both Michael and Rory are certain that we will see a wide range of games being developed from Hub Games, because their motto has not changed, just their name.