Veteran novelty gift shop founder Lim Ming Liang designed a series of card games, thanks to his love of tabletop games and the potential of growth of tabletop games in Singapore. We catch up with him to talk about games, business and the future of tabletop game in Singapore as a novelty gift retailer.
Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your company. What is your “origin” story?
Hi I am Ming and I am the co-founder of Ameba - an online gift store www.ameba.com.sg selling a range of gift and lifestyle products.
We started as a retail shop selling quirky gift items that we imported from various countries. After a few years of operations, our team began designing our own merchandise such as notebooks and wrapping paper.
I always enjoy playing tabletop games but the covid circuit breaker put that on overdrive. During that period, I was on online platforms like Tabletopia a couple of times a week having game sessions with my friends. I also had more time to doodle and came up with all sorts of game ideas. After mulling over a few game ideas, I decided to start a line of games under the Ameba brand. Hence, Ameba games was born with lots of crazy ideas and a passion to create products with our quirky brand of humour.
Q: What inspires the ideas behind your games? What is your creation process like?
All my games evolve from topics or issues that are very close to my heart. I started with the Bad Boss game which was an idea I had years ago when I was working in the corporate world and was inspired by all the different characters you can find in a workplace.
I started off a game design process with a theme I really like, as using a theme that resonates with me usually will inspire me with lots of material for the game. After that, I proceed to work on the mechanics which casual gamers can learn quickly and have a great time.
Q: Most people are contented with just playing games for fun. Anyone who knows anything about game development knows that they take a lot of work to create. What drives you to develop games despite the hardships?
What drives me is the immense satisfaction to produce a series of games that my friends can enjoy during game nights. It helps that I have strong support from my family, my game partner Adrian, a great team and help from Cargo Studios. Ultimately, it is also a journey of learning and discovery that I truly enjoy.
Q: Your games can be found in many retail stores and shops. How did you build up such an extensive distribution network? Do you get a lot of rejections? Any sweat and tears stories behind the scene on how you get your products distributed?
On the contrary, we do not distribute our games widely in Singapore. We used to be a gift retailer so most of our games are sold in stores that we have a relationship with. But we are happy that retailers are approaching us now that we have more titles under our belt.
Q: What was it like doing crowdfunding through Kickstarter? What advice would you give new game designers trying to leverage on the potential of crowdfunding?
It is a lot of hard work putting together a Kickstarter campaign but it is also very fulfilling if there are backers from around the world who will support your game. For those new to crowdfunding, my best advice is to have realistic goals and be sure to build a community around the campaign instead of expecting backers to come automatically to back.
Q: What are your views on the local game industry?
I think there are more aspiring game designers now than a couple of years back. I think it will be great if Singaporean games can evolve to have an unique identity that does not revolve around "Singlish". I hope that our Singaporean games can be like the Japanese ones which have their distinct flavour and style.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local tabletop game industry?
My personal view is that designers should find a good balance between making money and pursuing their passion. It is important that the games they produce are both economically viable and are driven by passion as well.
Q: The government encourages us to market our products abroad. Is there any new markets you are looking to enter and why?
Yes, we would definitely want to market my games abroad. We would love to participate in game conventions in the US and Europe in the near future.
Q. Where can we find out more about your organization and your products?
You can find out more at www.ameba.com.sg. All the games listed on the website are good to go! Meanwhile you can check out my latest game "Grab Your Breakfast" on Kickstarter. The campaign will end on 26th May 2022!