Mike Szalajko and Alex Mackey created a board game during the post-Hurricane Irma cleanup
WINDERMERE If it weren’t for Hurricane Irma, Windermere residents Mike Szalajko and Alex Mackey might never have had the all-night brainstorming session that led to the creation of their new board game.
While assisting with cleanup in Fort Myers and nothing to do at night, the two friends had a conversation that quickly spiraled into the realization of a party game, called What the Film.
“This game is a direct result of Hurricane Irma,” Mackey said. “I think we were surprised that it came about so quickly. It was a direct blessing of going down and helping those affected by the hurricane.”
The game is played with a deck of cards and challenges players to create a film using plot, set and character cards.
“What the Film is a party game where you put together a plot, a setting and an actor to make up a movie,” Mackey said. “For example, you could have that the pope finds out he has superhero powers at a doughnut shop. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want, but you only have 45 seconds to pitch your movie.”
Once each player in the group has pitched his or her movie, the group votes on the best pitch, and that player wins the round. And in addition to the regular game play, players can sabotage one another using industry cards to steal points and cards.
“The industry cards have things like who looks most like a serial killer and who has been on their phone the most during the game,” Szalajko said. “You start off playing the game thinking this is so much fun, then you get down to what you really think of someone.”
A game can last from 30 minutes to an hour.
One of the unique aspects of their game is that each playing card features artwork, Mackey said.
“We commissioned more than 200 art pieces to put on the cards,” he said. “We’re one of very, very few party games that has artwork with it.”
For Szalajko and Mackey, the game is a reflection of their personalities.
“It’s two different creative minds coming together to make something creative,” Szalajko said. “And Alex is really a gifted graphic designer so we have a little flair in the game.”
So far, the two friends have tested their game with multiple groups of players, and the response has been positive.
“We’re about light-hearted, fun party games, and people get that,” Szalajko said. “The way it’s written invokes that ‘Hey, we’re here to laugh and have a good time.’”
For Mackey, the creation process was interesting due to his lack of experience playing board games.
“My extent of playing games has been Monopoly, Candy Land and Uno,” he said. “I never delved into the gaming world, but when I teamed up with Mike, it was a really interesting combination. It’s been a really cool collaboration.”
What the Film will be released in mid-February, but Szalajko and Mackey don’t plan on stopping there.
“We have another dozen games in the hopper set to come out in pretty rapid succession,” Mackey said. “We want to try and become a full-fledged game titan and give Hasbro a run for their money.”