JammerUp: The Roller Derby Boardgame!
Jammer Up: The Roller Derby Board Game is a strategy game modeled on the rules and strategies of the growing sport of Roller Derby. Created by a referee and funded by individual gamers and members of the roller derby community via Kickstarter, the purpose of the game was to create both a strategic and involved game for Roller Derby skaters and fans, and to promote interest and awareness in Roller Derby for non-skaters. To achieve this the makers turned to okellydesign to turn their vision into a reality.
Starting with the prototype (which the founders Niki and Robin Hammond had created), I worked to figure out how best to remodel the board elements to work on the final square format, as well as ensuring that it all fit correctly for the pieces. The hexagonal track shape was decided by the founders, though I redrew it entirely for artwork purposes. I took the hex shapes though and decided to use them for the overall board texture and background, giving it a great contemporary sensibility and activating the 'dead' spaces on the board.
Roller derby is known for its unique sense of community, its costumes and uniforms, and an overall punk/rock aesthetic. However, the founders wanted to move past that somewhat to help engage a wider, non-derby audience (and not alienate them). To help marry the two vantage points, I decided that the game should look quite contemporary overall but have enough detail to have a sense of the handmade attention to detail that underscores punk/rock costuming and graphics. In live roller derby the tracks are always blue, so I used that as a starting point for the undulating color palette that comprises the background hexes. I then carried the blues in the main playing track and scoring rails to help bind together the overall board, and help keep it feel calm enough to carry an hour-long strategy game.
The founders had created an identity themselves and wanted to retain the root of it as it was already in public use. In Roller Derby the lead player is the Jammer, who is known by the star on her helmet. As such, this makes for an ideal mark for the sport and for the game in this case, and so that's what the founders had used. I evolved the star to come more in line with the design of the board, creating something contemporary and unique that they could own properly. The typeface is Archer, (known for its association with New York via the I❤NY logo) which was chosen to provide a contemporary slab-serif aesthetic. Much of punk typography is hand-done, but it approximates slab-serifs most commonly, so again this carries through the required aesthetic. Different versions of the identity were created for usage on light or dark backgrounds, and in stacked or horizontal formats.
With the board complete I moved onto the overall packaging, for which I enlisted roller derby fan and illustrator John Wooley. I worked with John to create an image that exuded the sport of roller-derby while keeping it in line with the goals and aesthetic of the game, and he did a great job with it. With such a great illustration in place, I worked to ensure that the box was engaging on the shelf from the top and sides, and that it rightly conveyed the information about the game, as well as a sense of what it was all about in terms of strategy and user-enjoyment. I recreated the hex base of the board in a lighter color scheme to underpin the illustration and identity on the front, as well as the game information on the back. As a sidebar, both sets of color schemes took a few rounds of printer proofs to get right, despite being created from pantone chips, but it got there in the end!
Along with this came the other aspects of the game such as the playing pieces, the trading cards and the rules book. I redrew the instructional illustrations to bring them in line with the game aesthetic while ensuring that they would print correctly at their size, while also typesetting the cards and rules book to fit with the identity and JammerUp branding. The trading cards were designed with a hex base as well, but with a color palette of purples (also denoted in purple on the board for their placement). The playing pieces are plastic counters with a sheet of stickers provided to create the roller derby team. We had to guess at the colors a little bit for matching purposes, but luckily they were quite close and look well on the board.
Lastly, I extended the game design to large format banners that could be used at derby events to promote the game, and to online adverts and social media imagery. The banners were designed to work as a pair (with a velcro loop to bind them to each other vertically, with the logo banner on top), or separately at a games event and so on.