"Publishing books and games was not the result of planning, but simply a lifelong passion for both worlds," explains Hadi Barkat, the director and founder of Helvetiq. Moreover, I find that the two bring together common skills.
Could book publishing and game publishing be closer than you think?
There is a tendency to compare board games with toys. And yet: we are talking about a game author, not an inventor, just as we would talk about a publisher and not a producer. The selection process for a game is quite similar to a book. The manuscript becomes a prototype and is also studied by the editorial team: does the game bring something new, does it fit in the publisher line? If it passes the selections, a contract is signed with the author who will be paid, as for the book, in royalties
The development work then begins, more or less important depending on the type of game and the progress of the prototype. As with the book, it is necessary to ensure the coherence of the whole, the aesthetics, the spelling... Are there any points that need to be modified to guarantee the balance of the game? What material to choose, what theme, what illustrations? From there, the paths diverge in view of the specific requirements of each field. The board game poses a real manufacturing challenge, as the elements that make it up can be very diverse (paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, magnets, etc.) and safety standards are strict, particularly for children's games.
Books and games: complementary products
Although the core business of the two fields is specialist independents, it is noticeable that board games are taking up more and more space in large cultural stores. Indeed, the dematerialisation of films and music (and books to a lesser extent) has led the buyers of these large stores to look for a product to replace them. The board game, which has been growing strongly in recent years, clearly responds to the problem: the target audience is the same, the product cannot be dematerialised, the margin is acceptable, the authors are increasingly well known and the games also have a cultural dimension.
Hadi Barkat has witnessed this development: "It is great to see that bookshops are increasingly taking over the field of games! At first reluctant, because they were already overwhelmed by the literary offer, they gradually opened the door. They quickly knew how to combine the two worlds and make coherent connections. A book can be intimidating, a game on the same subject can be an interesting access key. In my opinion, this is just the beginning of the synergies between the two."
While we have long known about playful books - books in which you are the hero, role-playing games and others Where's Waldo? - games based on books are rarer. However, there is a new trend towards so-called "narrative games", games whose rules lead the players to live a story. We can think of Time Stories, For the Queen, Critical... a new genre we can't wait to see evolve in the next few years.
At the crossroads of the two worlds, Helvetiq stands out for its original desire to work with both products. Today, its offer is made up of both books and games. What do they have in common? Accessibility, a strong theme, a particular attention to aesthetics... "The message is: 'Nothing is above you, nothing is inaccessible'. We want to be the public's companion to access any field. You don't need any special knowledge to enjoy our games or books. We want to provide the means to get out of the digital world. To give the opportunity to create a link", explains Hadi Barkat.