Board games don’t have to be bored games, and are usually more fun when they are turned into drinking games. So, Darren Power and Curtis Norris, the creators behind Saigon Pub Crawl, have spiced up boring board games by combining the two things they know best: drinking and the city. “We wanted to create something ‘low-tech’ that took people away from their iPhones and got them interacting socially face to face. We wanted to create something original and yet simple to play, a game that doesn’t really pit people against each other, but allows them to drop their inhibitions and act silly for a while,” says Curtis Norris.
Curtis and Darren, who both work in the video gaming industry, went from design to finished product within a space of three months, considerably less time than it would take for them to develop an app or video game.
“The Pub Crawl idea seemed a natural one for Saigon,” he adds. “Many expats, tourists and even Vietnamese do their socializing around the city’s bars. Many of Saigon’s most amusing experiences are centered on these places. We wanted to create a humorous ‘simulation’ of these experiences in game form. Darren and I have both lived here for 14 years, so a lot of our own experiences went into the design of the game.”
Darren and Curtis have certainly done their best to recreate real life situations with Event Cards that have players “trapped in Roundabout, Lose 1 turn” and “Sucked into Vietnamese Wedding Party, Have 1 drink with everyone at table.” While the main goal of Saigon Pub Crawl is simple – to be the first to check off all 12 pubs on the list to win – the game serves another purpose.
“We also wanted to create a game that provided a service to people. That’s why we feature real pubs on the board with a handy city guide in the box. Anyone coming to Saigon for the first time can use the game to find their way around to some of the best places in town. Plus we include free drink vouchers to most of the bars in the game, so it is a service to our sponsors as well,” says Curtis.
With thousands of bars littering the city, how did the two manage to narrow it down to just 12? “We chose the bars based on their iconic status and/or popular bars with obvious staying power. We also created a good mix of experiences from sports bars, to romantic bars, stylish bars, to music/dance bars and backpacker haunts. We included bars from District 2 and District 7 as well, to give players exposure to other parts of the city. Various countries are also represented: French, Spanish, German, Australian bars. The common thread is the Vietnam experience, specifically, Saigon.” And with instructions and playing cards in both English and Vietnamese, the Saigon Pub Crawl is another good reason for locals and expats to get together and have a drink, whether at home or taking the game to an actual pub to play.