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Pimp my Game – Fat Cat Gaming Q&A

Fat Cat Gaming Accessories

If you have read some of my other articles you will remember I came into this hobby as I wanted a social alternative to computer games. I now have children and spending endless hours shooting zombies with little or no social interaction was not only getting boring but it was hard to find the time to do so.

I remember times when I was a child I would argue and fall out with friends because I wanted the red controller, or I took apart my Super Nintendo and painted the shell different colours all because I wanted it to be different. I was amazed when a few months in to board gaming I heard people talking about buying inserts for their board games that would help them organise the pieces and make set up easier. This was fantastic for me as a fan of ‘pimping’ my consoles I could now continue to do so with my board games.

The realisation soon kicked in when I looked up the organisers and saw that they cost almost as much as the game itself. I simply could not justify the price. The problem is that most of the better known brands are from America so not only do you have the cost of the item but also the carriage cost too.

There are a few UK based people now doing inserts, overlays and card holders which make things a lot cheaper. One such person is Steve Green, of Fat Cat Gaming, and I reached out to him to ask him a few questions about the growing market of board game accessories.

Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you got into gaming?

Howdy! I got into gaming many moons ago when I didn't know the joy that council tax could bring. After those childhood games it was Risk that reignited the passion again a few years later. We'd play 5-6 player World Domination almost once a week and even more when the LOTR version came into our possession. A few mates, some beers, and the whole night of testing our friendship as one turned against the other while others plotted and schemed.

The hobby has since developed and now I'm quite a fan of Dungeon Crawlers and Euros and, well, anything really. I love the social aspect of gaming and the fact that I can interact with people without the need for technology. We spend so much of our time glued to screens, it's nice to get away for a bit. In addition to that, I enjoy the tactical, logical, and analytical thought that is usually needed. I enjoy a good game where you can really lose yourself in it and weigh up the odds to their potential outcomes as opposed to a dice roller, but then, I love a chilled-out game where I just move and roll dice too! I just love playing games.

Outside of gaming I spend most of my spare time with Danielle and the Bean, Ivy. I should probably mention that it was the small one that inspired the name Tilly Bean in the first place, I wanted to call her Tilly so we settled on Matilda as a middle name and she's had the name 'Bean' since, well since we found out that in week number n she was the size of a bean.

Calling her Tilly hasn't happened though, she's known as Bean to all. We also run a website called Fat Cat Gaming where we offer gaming accessories.

So you have a company that offers board-game accessories, what made you go into this market?

Strangely enough it all started, as all awesome things should, with a love for Descent. I was obsessing about the game at the time and was frustrated with the set-up time and having a dis-organised box. I had a hunt around for foam core inserts, and decided my levels of patience were not high enough, nor was my skill set adequate to pull it off  so, being a fan of toys, tools and other fun things, I looked at how I could get it precision cut, and that lead us to laser cutters.

From there the simple idea grew, starting with dice boxes, coasters, custom tokens, and the like. Funnily enough though I still don't have an insert for Descent. There were two massive moments for us early on really, a chap called Eugene and his brother put a massive amount of faith into us and the dice boxes, and another guy, Ricky, requested various custom tokens. These were the seeds that were planted, for lack of a better analogy that helped us grow into what we are today.

We never expected to make a lot, I'm realistic enough to know that I still need to work the daily 9 'till 5 grind and that this, at best will sort out some nappies for us. There is still the hope though that we can grow it to something more so that the small one will have something, should she want it when she's older.

You will obviously be compared to the big names out there how do you think you compare to them?

No pressure, right? The big boys know what they're doing, that's for sure and I couldn't hope to compete, not really. Thankfully many of them have extortionate shipping charges which helps us get a few UK based sales. We try and offer custom options where possible to help give us the edge, mainly though, I love creating things, it's a nice way to unwind although sometimes the line between fun and chore can blur especially when there's a lot on and not enough hours in the day.

I'd like to think that we've grown and that our newer stuff is better than what we started out with. I work as Software Developer and it's common to look back on six-month-old code and wonder 'who wrote that mess?' when it's yours then rewriting it to a better standard in a tenth of the time it took originally. Knowing that we're improving is a great thing and hopefully this trend will continue. Recently we teamed up with a talented guy to work on an insert or two together. It's a massive improvement over our earlier ones, and again, shows progression which I'm happy with.

In answer to your question, I guess I'd say that hopefully one day we'll be in the same category as them but I am aware of our limitations.

Do you see this market growing as it has or do you think publishers will step up and offer better inserts themselves?

Bit of a conflicted one this, I'd love for publishers to start putting some value into a decent insert and overlay for the player card where necessary, as well as upgrading the components; there are cases when the components are just shocking but the game play is fantastic.

On the other hand, if they start doing that then that leaves us in a tricky spot and reduces our options. Regarding the market itself, we've seen it grow but then we've only been doing this for a year or so, I couldn't really give you an accurate answer on that one. I do think though, that the board gaming community is gaining more exposure and people do enjoy spending that little bit extra to make their gaming experience a better one, I know I do.

I would like to thank Steve for taking time out to talk to me about his thoughts on this area of the gaming hobby. I agree that having a UK-based company such as Fat Cat Gaming,offering quality gaming accessories, is a great idea and wish him all the best in the future.