Designing Women: Jordanna Santiago

Most first time designers juggle a kickstarter launch a lot of other responsibilities. For Jordanna Santiago, that means keeping up with her 5th grade schedule. Her first game, Jujo, just launched last week on kickstarter.

What got you started playing board games? 

Our family loves board games, especially my grandparents. When our extended family gets together for holidays or special events, we often spend an afternoon playing board games and puzzles. 

What inspired you to design Jujo? 

My dad and I thought it would be fun to make a game together. There are so many new games being published every year, and we thought we could make a game as well. My dad first proposed an idea for a game, and then we sat down and playtested it until it turned into Jujo. Jujo was named after my sister (Julianna) and me (Jordanna). My dad focused a lot on game mechanics and I focused on figuring out how to make the game fun. I helped choose the characters and colors, and provided feedback to my dad and the artist. 

Whats been your biggest challenge to date and how did you conquer it?  

I think the hardest part of the game was the rules. We had a lot of back and forth on how the rules should work, with a lot of minor changes being made up until we were about ready to publish the game. When we playtested the game, especially at conventions, some of the playtesters really challenged us to re-think how we approached the game. We listened really closely to the feedback, and tried to make the game as clear and fun as possible, based on the comments we received from everyone. 

Whats next for you in the game space? 

My dad and I have had a bunch of hair-brained ideas, and some of my relatives would like to make games with us in the future. I’m not exactly sure what’s next, but I would love to combine some of my favorite things into a game – like acting, art, role playing, etc. 

Whats your favorite game? 

That’s tough! I think my new favorite game is Throw Throw Burrito. Throw Throw Burrito combines card games, dodge ball (burrito), and twists all together into one really funny game. Since most people in family know that I love acting, I love pretending I am in an old Western movie, ready to duel whenever I get the duel card. I totally recommend the game! 

Where would you like to see the game community in 5 years (what would you like to see better/new in the game community)? 

One thought is that it would be great to see if there were a way to make games more environmentally friendly. I think board games are becoming really popular because they are physical. But as they become more popular, we should also try to figure out ways to make board games more sustainable, both in the way they are made and in the way they are shipped. 

How did you approach the game’s design and what have you liked most about it? 

I think what I like most about game design is that you can be as creative as you like, and no one judges you for it. You get to create your own worlds and characters, and then role play them in the form of a game. Some of my favorite games are super creative, like Throw Throw Burrito, Code Names and Quirkle. I think as adults you sometimes lose your creative spark, but if you go into game design you will always be creative.

You can check out Jujo on kickstarter!