Splotter Spellen is a Dutch company, founded in 1997, that designs and sells original, clever board and card games, primarily for gaming enthusiasts. They’ve made games spanning a variety of play times and complexity levels, including original, short and easy-to-play games intended for the family market (Tetragons, Kiek) and elaborate, thematic games appealing to a market of young people, who’ve discovered that “traditional” board games are a modern and exciting pastime (Roads & Boats, Indonesia).
All games have been designed by the Splotter team, often in collaboration with other game authors from the Universiteit Leiden students gaming society, Het Duivelsei. The members of this society and their families are also the principal playtesters for the publisher’s games.
The company was founded in 1997 by Herman Haverkort, Tamara Jannink, and Joris Wiersinga, three members of Het Duivelsei. Members of this society had been designing a couple of games, including a game called Off the Edge, now known as D’r af, and the precursor to Roads & Boats called Transport. Their original focus was to market cheap, low-priced games. They bought a cutting machine and photocopied their first hand-made set of games: Tetragons (80 copies), Web (30 copies) and D’r af (30 copies). After considering cardboard boxes (way too expensive) and tin cans, they opted to package these games in videoboxes.
Apart from the three videobox games, they brought their prototype of Roads & Boats to show off at their first Essen Game Fair. Quite a few people seemed interested in the game, but as they’d spent about four weeks making the prototype (made out of wood) they told them the game was not publishable. Little did they know that this very costly and complex game would be a best-seller a few years later!
In 1998, they published more videobox games: Gossip!, Chameleo Chameleo, and a reprint of Web and D’r af. However, it became apparent that videoboxes were not an ideal way of packaging games. The games were fully packed, leading some people to complain that getting all the stuff back into the box again was a puzzle in itself. Even more importantly, they found that cheap games, and videoboxes in particular, do not sell well. Most people prefer nicely packaged games, so they decided to switch.
In 1999 the last videobox game saw the light (Kiek) together with two specimens of a new generation: Bus and Roads & Boats, packed in cardboard boxes, both in hand-made print runs of 30 copies. This turned Splotter life upside-down. Before the 1999 fair game even started, they had sold out all of their games, and spent the rest of the fair apologizing that they were out-of-stock.
With so many enthusiastic reactions in magazines and on the web, they had to face the fact that their strategy needed to adapt. Instead of producing cheap games, with some bigger games as a side activity, they decided to give the longer, more expensive strategic games the attention they deserved. With the money they earned designing games for commercial purposes (in particular Spöl, a game for the city of Enschede which ordered 70.000 copies), they financed a “large” print run of 500 Roads & Boats and 150 Buses. And again, they sold almost all at the Essen fair and the storm of mailorders in the two months after the fair.
As they’d all taken up full-time jobs, it became hard to manage Splotter with three people. In 2001, Jeroen Doumen, a successful Splotter author from the beginning, became a partner in the company. Today, Splotter is currently run by two people, both still with full-time jobs.
Jeroen studied mathematics and physics at Universiteit Leiden, obtained his Ph.D. in cryptography from Eindhoven University of Technology, and is currently Chief Security Architect and Co-Founder of Sandgrain
, a new European trust platform for secure electronic components, trusted data, and circularity. Playing with him in a game means you’re playing for second. His favorite non-Splotter games include 1830: Railways & Robber Barons, Wheel of Time CCG, Babylon 5 Wars and most games he hasn’t played yet.
Joris studied biology, history, and law at Universiteit Leiden, and is currently Managing Director at SilverFit. His favorite non-Splotter game is 1830: Railways & Robber Barons. Joris has been designing games since primary school. His first game, Job Application (1983) was about choosing the right form of transportation to ensure timely arrival for a job interview. At the age of 12, his passion for game design had gotten so bad that his friends would only come over on the condition that they would not have to play his games. So he feels vindicated when he gets emails from people all over the world asking him if they can playtest his newest games (many of which are still about transportation).
~Biographies & history were borrowed from Splotter’s old website & only slightly edited for Splotter Con’s purposes. All rights to the content on this page belong to Splotter Spellen.