Chronicle, Jacques Pharand Kirklander Max Chagnon with his board game ZeroZero.
BY ELYSE AMEND
For many, sitting down with family or friends over an exciting board game is a great way to spend a cold winter’s evening. This holiday season, Kirkland resident Max Chagnon and his business partner Rémi Lavoie are hoping to break into a board game market dominated by European and American producers with their own ZeroZero. “It’s hard for us to break into the market and hard for us to compete, especially when you start,” said Chagnon, a semi-retired electro-mechanics teacher. “You don’t have much money and you can’t publicize. There’s not much you can do, even if the game is great. What the stores want to do is sell, so they’re going to take the games that make money and that are known across the world.”
Chagnon and Lavoie became friends while working together at the Commission scolaire Trois Lacs in the western off-island area and started throwing a few board game ideas back and forth about seven years ago. While the game’s board design moved from an outer space-based theme to an ocean exploring adventure, the basic premise stayed the same: the game is played on the x and y axis of a Cartesian plan, with point zero/zero as the starting point – and the inspiration behind the board game’s name. “We started off just with an x and y axis. We said, this is fun, but there’s no challenge. So, we started to think about how we could make it more of a game, more challenging, less chance based, and a more strategy-based type of game.”
The result: a colourful game in which players “sail” the ocean by rolling four dice, all with the goal of reaching the four exciting islands. ZeroZero players will encounter many twists and turns along the way and, according to Chagnon, while the game requires only two people, play gets more exciting in bigger groups. “Actually, the more you are, the better it is. The fun thing about this game is there’s no way to know who’s going to win. Things change very fast,” Chagnon said. “It’s a very easy game to learn, too […] You don’t even really need to read the instructions. You just look at the pictures and the board, and within 10 minutes you’re playing.”
With its fun and educational basis, some stores in Quebec have decided to try out ZeroZero on their shelves this holiday season. Some locally-owned dealers have the game in stock and Zellers recently ordered 1,000 copies to sell in its Quebec stores.
While Chagnon said he and Lavoie are already thinking about future projects, they’re hoping all of the investments they made in ZeroZero – both time and their own money – will pay off. “Hopefully, if this goes good, we’ll come out with a second game next year. We have plenty of other ideas. But first, we have to make our money back on this one,” Chagnon said. “You never know. We might one day be able to go up against the big names.”
ZeroZero is available for $28.95 and has instructions in English, French and Spanish. For more information on ZeroZero, visit www.jeuxzerozero.com.