Building Decks –

Yang Zhixue, a 34-year-old Beijinger, has condensed film history into a German-style board game.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A Chinese-made board game based on the history of world cinema has been launched, reports Xu Haoyu.

On March 22, 1895, a short sequence of Leaving the factoryfilmed by Louis Lumière, was projected on the walls of the Grand Café in Paris, and the cinema was born.

It took less than 10 years for audiences to adapt to the new art form, from the fear of seeing a train coming on screen to the ability to remain calm in the face of robbers’ guns in The Great Train Robbery.

Yang Zhixue, a 34-year-old resident of Beijing, has condensed film history into a German-style board game, Film Centenary, allowing players to focus on the development of the film industry in different eras and regions.

After two years of design and testing, the pre-order version of the game was officially launched on Gstone, an app for tabletop gamers in China with over 1 million users, on March 22 at 8 p.m. ). Over 600,000 clicks were registered and the limited stock of 2,500 sold out in about 4 minutes, just enough time for consumers to enter their delivery address. It marked a historic moment – the fastest tabletop game launch on Gstone.

Yang, one of the screenwriters of the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earthindicates that the project officially started in October 2019.

“At the beginning, my goal was to create a world-class product, but by 2021, my only wish was to finish it,” he adds.

It was Yang’s first time getting his hands on the whole board game production process. He imagined himself leading a team of 10 people at first, but by the end the number grew to 30, covering production, art, UI design, composition, proofreading, marketing and sales.

Organizations such as the National Film Museum of China, the Shanghai Film Group and the French Cinematheque, as well as Li Yiming, an expert who has been researching the history of Chinese and foreign cinema since 1985, acted as advisers. academic in the project.

Over 100 stills from various movies have been used in the game while the rest have been taken from the public domain. It took a year and a half to get permission for the stills. At first, Yang had no idea who to contact. He sent numerous emails to the original producers of the films he chose, but the response wasn’t particularly encouraging until the French Cinematheque came into view. Yang says many stills no longer belong to the studios that made the films but to collection agencies. With the help of the French Cinematheque and his friends, Yang contacted agencies in different places. He describes the process as “crossing the river feeling the stones”.

Get still images

Yang says he easily got permission for some photos.

Warner Bros. Clip & Still licensing department provided him with a clear article form; Shanghai Film Group saw the game as a meaningful product and provided free stills whenever possible; Japan’s Shochiku asked dozens of questions through a number of emails and ultimately refused the request for cooperation, fearing that Yang’s studio was too small to protect the copyright of the images. fixed; he failed to obtain permission for a still from a French agency because his staff members were unavailable due to the pandemic on the day Yang was supposed to pay.

He says he once considered hiring artists to paint classic movie scenes, but he couldn’t resist showing the original footage. It was “worth it,” he adds.

Yang made a quick decision on the basic mechanics of the game.

Following the development of the international film industry, the game is divided into three different eras, featuring different genres. The first period shows the birth and development of cinema from 1895 to the 1920s, marked by the projection of Leaving the factory, featuring genres such as “Editing School”, “German Expressionism”, and “Kinoeye”. The Second Era captures important moments in movie history from the 1930s to the 1960s, such as the creation of Hollywood. Genres include “Classic Hollywood”, “Italian Neorealism”, and “French Poetic Realism”. Finally, it is the modern era, which began with the emergence of the new wave from the 1960s to the 1990s. At the time, New Hollywood, French New Wave and Left Bank Group injected new blood into the ‘industry.

The game map contains four regions: Eastern Europe, Western Europe, North America and Asia. In all three eras, a player must gain more market share and dominate the region. Also, to keep close to history, the Asian market cannot participate in the first era, because the first large-scale movie studio in Asia was built around 1922.

Players can run a film company for “100 years”, compete with their peers in various regional markets, develop their industrial technology and aesthetics over three eras, and become the most prestigious company in the industry to win the game.

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