Santorini comes to Calgary: board game launches after 31 years

It was 31 years in the making, and after a successful crowdfunding campaign raising $700,000, a board game created by a Calgary man is ready for playing.

Crowdfunding campaign helped Gordon Hamilton complete board game he dreamed up in 1985

Gordon Hamilton, Calgary-based creator of the board game "Santorini" says his passion is fusing the fundamentals of problem solving and math skills into his puzzles and games. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

It was a dream 31 years in the making, and after a $700,000 crowdfunding campaign, a board game created by a Calgary man is ready for playing.

The idea for Santorini came to Gordon Hamilton within half an hour, he told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"I looked at a poster in 1985, [it] was of corporate executives struggling to get higher up. They had ladders and they were going skyscraper to skyscraper," he said.

The game uses a grid and two "workers" who compete to get to the highest point of Santorini, which is modeled after the Greek city. Every move is a build, one level at a time.

There are also cards depicting mythical gods can help give "powers" for the game.

He partnered with Roxley Games, who Hamilton said is responsible for the game's look.

"I'm a minimalist. My old game version in 2004 was just white blocks with Greek nudes and I thought that was the most beautiful way to present the game, but now it has a cartoon-y feel."

Hamilton loves the new look and says that's why the crowdfunding campaign did so well.

The game is geared to players who are five years old and up.

Although Hamilton describes the three-decade journey to complete Santorini as incredibly frustrating, he's been busy creating 50 other games and currently works as a mathematician funded by the American Institute of Mathematics to build games for the classroom.

"We really want kids to problem-solve, that's the core of quality mathematics education. And board games are just a celebration of problem solving. So those two belong together."

The game is available nationwide and can be found around Calgary at Pips, Metal Galaxy, Boxcar, Discovery Hut, Sentry Box, Revolution and Hexagon Game Cafe.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener