One of the joys--or sorrows--of blogging is to check the "stats" page every once in awhile to see who is--or isn't--reading. Since I am an American living in Berlin and writing in English, it's obvious that most of the hits on my sight come from the U.S. and Germany. Sometimes, however, I will get a few hits that surprise me (Iran, for example), and this week I was amazed to see that there were more hits from the country of Finland than from any other nation!
For anyone following international gaming trends the past couple of years, it may come as no surprise that there is a thriving gaming--and game design culture--in Finland. There are game publishers bringing their releases to Essen, and Finnish game designers getting their work published in other countries, including Germany.
Several years ago, I had my first inkling of what was to come when Markku Jaatinen emailed to let me know he was going to be in Berlin on business, and asked if he could join my game designers' group for an evening. We had fun getting to know Markku and he told us about the Finnish Board Game Society over which he was presiding at that time.
Then, a year ago in Göttingen, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Touko Tahkokallio, a Finnish designer who is poised to take the German boardgame market by storm this Essen with Principato, Walnut Grove, and Eclipse, this last title being his grand take on the science fiction civilization building genre. I've seen and played some of his other designs, and they are as varied as the games produced by other highly-touted newcomers like