A startup CEO of an AR/VR company and a tech journalist may seem like unusual backgrounds for a design team for a board/card game, but Avi Setton and Tanya Basu figured it was just perfect, and the debut game of their new company Le Fou, Picky Eaters, is racing towards an impressive finish with over sixty-five thousand dollars already pledged for a five-thousand dollar goal with a couple of days left to go. We reached out to Tanya and Avi with some questions about Picky Eaters and what inspired the game, check it out below:
The two of you have very interesting backgrounds, how did you go from tech and journalism to making a game?
On the surface, going from tech and journalism to making a game may seem like a giant leap, but in reality, doing so was an extension of ourselves and our interests. Games have long been a way for us to connect and relax as a couple, whether digitally (one of our first experiences together was playing *Mario Odyssey* projected onto Avi’s Bushwick apartment wall) or physically (the pandemic offered us a chance to step away from doomscrolling and play games).
For Tanya, journalism is a way to delve deep into worlds and subjects and share stories with a broader audience. Games offer a similar ability to share stories. One of the most exciting parts of game development for Tanya is the ability to dive into research and reporting to create worlds that are thoughtful and grounded in facts. The inner reporter in Tanya really thrives in this stage of gamemaking.
Avi’s education and initial work experience started in the film industry. But his love for games brought him to work at Google for their AR/VR team, where he was excited by the merging of movies and games. At Google, Avi eventually founded and led an internal startup that was specifically focused on the intersection of movies and games, or interactive video. To Avi, these two worlds (TV/movies and video games) always seemed unnecessarily separate. Having worked in both industries, Avi felt this was due to a disconnect in how tech and the film industry operate. The goal with Le Fou is to start simple with card and board games, and then take on more ambitious and innovative projects that involve video and digital integration.
What inspired the theme of Picky Eaters?
We’re both foodies, though that term can come across as snobby. We both love to eat and explore new flavors and cultures through food. Our favorite part of traveling is checking out local markets and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Food is how we organize our day and how we get to learn about cultures outside of our own.
That said, we have very specific tastes about how food should be, at least for our personal palates. (See Question 7). That’s not unique to us; we are all picky eaters to an extent. It’s a universal experience and something that we can all relate to. One of the most common comments we get from those who’ve played Picky Eaters is “Oh, I know a picky eater,” or “I’m a picky eater,” which speaks to that theme of universality.
That’s all to say that the theme made sense with the mechanics, which Avi came up with first. Initially, we were thinking of a game where you would create a mixtape for a certain person with specific musical tastes. But we both realized that creating a menu for a group of people with specific food tastes was far more relatable and stronger as a theme, and the game clicked for us emotionally and mechanically.
Picky Eaters has a very distinct look- how did you settle on the art style?
All credit for the art and style should go to our immensely talented illustrator, Alex Hoskins. She is a British artist based in Zimbabwe whom Tanya found after scouring Instagram and freelance art groups for an artist with a whimsical, modern approach to food. Alex fit the bill perfectly, and her vision meshed with ours in bringing the guests and food to life.
It was important for us to have a distinct but accessible look to the game. We want Picky Eaters to be something entry-level gamers will be interested in as well as heavier gamers looking for a palate cleanser. We also wanted the art to be attractive to kids but not so childish that adults wouldn’t want to play the game. And we wanted Picky Eaters to be inviting, so we included playful fonts, diverse characters, and bright colors to stand out.
What games do you feel compare well to Picky Eaters?
We wanted Picky Eaters to be a game that appeals to both heavier gamers as well as entry-level gamers, adults or children. There are a lot of food-based games that appeal to kids – Sushi Go!, Point Salad, for example – but we wanted this to be the type of game that would appeal to adults as well, whether or not they were playing with kids. Radlands, for example, is a card-based game with distinct art, a strong theme, and immense strategy despite its simplicity. We included non-human guests (the robot vacuum and dog) after playing Basketboss and being inspired by its use of non-human characters. And we love how Caper Europe creates a unique world with its characters and art, which certainly inspired us in creating an immersive, memorable world for Picky Eaters.
What do you think sets Picky Eaters apart from those games?
The most common response to our game is how fun and relatable the game is. Everyone knows (and probably is!) a picky eater. There’s something universal about that theme that immediately strikes a chord with players, making the game’s goal immediately intuitive. We also were cognizant of including diverse foods and characters, because it was important for us that everyone relate to Picky Eaters. There’s also the duality of luck and strategy Picky Eaters – there’s a bit of luck with which guests and recipes appear, but there’s a ton of strategy in balancing what you can make with what your guests will actually consume. That duality is rare, and we think Picky Eaters takes that duality in stride.
What kind of Kickstarter exclusives are you offering in the campaign?
We purposefully kept our campaign very simple. We have 3 basic reward levels:
1. The Picky Eaters Kickstarter Edition for $29 (which includes 85 ingredient cards, 35 unique recipe cards, 19 special item cards, 16 tarot-size guest cards, 6 player aid cards, a first player card, a double-sided score pad, and a rulebook).
2. Our Deluxe Pledge for $79 (which includes the Picky Eaters Kickstarter Edition, as well as 6 double-stitched neoprene player mats featuring beautiful art by Alex Hoskins). The player mats are a cosmetic addition to the game, but their table presence and immersiveness are unparalleled.
3. 6 x copies of Picky Eaters Kickstarter Edition for $165 (which includes 6 copies of Picky Eaters Kickstarter Edition). This pledge is simply for backers who would like to bundle and save (on both the games and on shipping).
What foods are the two of you picky about?
Tanya cannot stand the texture of runny egg yolks, despite the fact that she loves the look of a dripping yolk in a breakfast sandwich. Tanya also ate a banana for breakfast everyday from kindergarten through her first years in college and, as a result, can no longer stand bananas. They may return to her life one day but as of now, no thank you.
Avi spent most of his life as a vegetarian, so he often gets picky about meats, particularly chicken: the texture and flavor have to be exactly right for him to eat it. Also, no food with tentacles.
Will there be more games by Le Fou after Picky Eaters?
Yes, there will be more games by Le Fou to come! We have already designed three expansions for Picky Eaters that we can’t wait to share. We also just completed designing a two-player, strategic game that we’re developing and will hopefully be announcing in the coming months. Our goal with Le Fou is to create games that are accessible, thoughtful, and stand out from the crowd, and we’re excited to share that vision with the world.
Go pledge for Picky Eaters now while the campaign is still running!
Mike Dunn is the old man of Gaming Trend, having cut his teeth on Atari consoles and First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons back in the day. His involvement with Gaming Trend dates back to 2003, and he’s done everything from design and code to writing and managing. Now he has come full circle, with a rekindled passion for tabletop gaming and a recent debut as Dungeon Master (nearly forty years after he purchased the original DMG).