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Newmarket designer's commute to work inspires board game

Arty Smallbatch Games, an independent developer and publisher of original board games emphasizing character, flavour and engaging gameplay, found a home at Newmarket's NewMakeIt collaborative space facility for entrepreneurs

Rather than be bored with her back road commute to the city, Kylie Latham was inspired to design a board game.

Latham and her partner, Dave Gage, brought their game called Ewetopia — her commute took her past sheep farms — to the Town of Newmarket's Daring Pairings board games night Saturday at the Old Town Hall.

In Ewetopia, the players take on the role of dogs whose purpose is to herd sheep out of the pasture — the board. Because opposing players can place fences in the pasture, play can be straight-forward or highly strategic.

And beware the Big Bad Wolf disguised as a sheep.

To make the game more appealing, the dog characters are adopted by the players, who can also name them, and have personalities that are listed on their "adoption papers". The game is suitable for children (8+) and adults, Latham said.

Her background is in multimedia design, web programming and user experience design. Latham said she had aspirations of developing computer games, but suffered technology burnout and wanted to create something hands-on and physical. Hence, board games.

Latham said she first turned her idea into reality with paper and cardboard prototypes. She and Gage further refined the game by play testing with gaming groups in Mississauga and Toronto. Refinements also came from analyzing other games, she added.

They initially manufactured the game in her father's workshop until they learned about NewMakeIt. They moved to Newmarket to join NewMakeIt, where they now manufacture Ewetopia, she said.

Founded in 2016, NewMakeIt is a collaborative space facility that enables members of the local community to start innovative, creative, entrepreneurial or learning endeavours.

Latham and Gage's company, Arty Smallbatch Games, launched in 2016, joins the growing number of creative industry businesses in Newmarket.

Arty Smallbatch Games an independent developer and publisher of original board games emphasizing character, flavour and engaging gameplay.

At Saturday's Daring Pairings event, a variety of board games were available, as well as alcohol, coffee, and sandwiches and snacks from Cachet Restaurant. In spite of the bitterly cold weather, the event was well attended by groups of friends and people out to make new friends.

For more information or to purchase Ewetopia, click here.

For information about the Town of Newmarket's next Daring Pairings event, Scotch and Chocolate on Nov. 22 at the Old Town Hall, click here.