The classic board game Monopoly has taken on many versions over the years; thanks to British expat Ian Steele, that includes a Beijing version, or 北京opoly.
The game includes a number of scenarios that many people who have ever lived in Beijing may well have experienced. Click the link below to read the interview we did with Steele about the game back in March 2021.
READ MORE: Meet the Man Who Created ‘Beijing Monopoly’
In addition to his day job in admissions at Harrow International School in Beijing, Steele runs Custom Beijing which, as the name suggests, sells products which are customizable and (mainly) Beijing-related; an original Custom Beijing map of the capital hangs proudly in the That’s Beijing office!
Not content with creating just one original Beijing board game, Steele has recently created Beijing Nights, a mystery role-play game with… shall we say… Beijing characteristics.
In a recent interview, Steele told That’s about Beijing Nights, how to create an engaging board game, and a chance for That’s Beijing readers to get their hands on a free copy of the game in a lucky draw.
Before we talk about Beijing Nights, give us an update on 北京OPOLY which That’s previously covered.
北京OPOLY has been a much bigger success than I had ever expected when we last talked around a year ago. Since the last article, I’ve commissioned production of almost 1,000 copies of the game and they’re selling very quickly, sadly, it seems because lots of people are leaving Beijing this summer and want to take a memento with them. After a lot of requests, I’m looking into the production of 上海OPOLY as one of my upcoming projects.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Beijing Nights.
As with everything I do as part of Custom Beijing, I like to try to put a Beijing spin on things. This game seemed an ideal format in which to add in some ‘characters’ from Beijing, such as ‘Hutong Elders,’ ‘Bao’an,’ ‘Laowai’ etc., so it also serves as a fun memory of the city to take with you when you eventually leave, while also being a really fun game to play at home or at a bar when you’re out and about.
What’s the aim of the game? Tell us all we need to know about it.
Beijing Nights is shorter than 北京OPOLY – probably 10 or 15 minutes per game – and is effectively a mystery role-play card game. It’s very similar to One Night Werewolf and somewhat similar to Secret Hitler, for those familiar with board games.
As a group (anywhere from 3-10 players), each person secretly selects a role with each character allocated to either the Police team or the City team. Each character has its own specific action, and in turn, each character carries out that action secretly. Once all turns have been taken, the players need to identify the Police character(s) to win.
There’s a lot of deception involved though, and it’s not as straight-forward as it sounds. Once you get used to the gameplay, it can result in some really lively rounds!
This is your second board game. What would you say is the secret to creating a great board game? Do you follow particular principles and or formulas when designing?
I think it’s safe to say that my games are heavily influenced by others out there, but my main aim is to provide that Beijing twist on all of them! I want people who live here to really feel like they’re getting a unique game that’s going to be fun to play now, but also to play in the future so they can rekindle fond memories of the city.
I think testament to that is the amount of requests I’ve had from people in the US, Australia, UK and other countries who’ve since moved out of Beijing and want something that jogs their memories of this great city!
Finally, I think quality is hugely important. We’ve all bought random knock-offs on Taobao which fall apart within a short space of time, but my games are very high quality – from the box and board, to the cards and tokens inside.
These are built to last!
How can people find out more about the game and get their hands on a copy?
I have a few options. For those with a VPN, you can follow my Instagram page at @custom.beijing or my Facebook page at @custombeijing.
In order to buy the games, or to ask more questions about any of the products I offer, you can contact me via WeChat (WeChat ID: Beijing-2021- or scan the QR code below).
To celebrate one year since the last That’s Beijing article, I’m offering one of each of the 北京OPOLY and Beijing Nights games for free as part of a lucky draw.
If any of your readers buy a game from me and quote ‘That’s Beijing’ when ordering, I’ll put their name into a *draw and after the closing date (two weeks from the publication date), two people will be drawn at random and I’ll refund their payments so they get their game for free!
*Note that to be included in the lucky draw, readers MUST quote ‘That’s Beijing’ when ordering. Only orders placed from the date of publication (Tuesday, April 12, 2022) until midnight on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 will be accepted in the draw.
[All images via Ian Steele/Custom Beijing]