Q&A with Ariel Chang, creator of the board game GujuGuju

These are cards with fruit printed on them. Playing them, however – that is, the hit board game GujuGuju – is a hoot. Players take turns turning over cards and guessing whether a banana, lemon, strawberry, or pear will appear. It’s a race because the first to get rid of their cards will win.

The best board games entertain, entertain and keep players active – GujuGuju ticks all these boxes. It’s deceptively simple, yet addicting, which is why this modern Asian card game is now sold in 450 Barnes & Noble stores around the world and distributed worldwide, including Japan, Australia, Australia, Australia. Canada and more.

The mastermind behind this success is Ariel Yi Chi Chang, a graduate of Central Saint Martins, one of the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia Icons.

With a degree in product design and manufacturing, Chang started her own business. Source: Ariel Chang

Following the success of Guju Guju, Chang created his own company in 2016: GeGe Design, who designs products for his parents’ company – GeGe Co. Ltd – one of the first to introduce board games to the Asian market. Last year, she published Nice to Meet You and founded GeGe Game Lab.

Originally from Taiwan, Chang’s education began in Shanghai for high school and his A Levels. She then pursued a Bachelor of Engineering in Product Design and Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham in the UK, followed by a Master of Arts in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins.

We caught up with Chang to find out more about her upbringing in the UK and how she influenced her playing career:

Why did you choose to get your degree in industrial design at Central Saint Martins?

I was told that Central Saint Martins is a university looking for diversity, that’s what I wanted. My background revolved around math and physics while studying for my A levels, but I have always been interested in art and design.

Therefore, when applying to my university, I highlighted my strengths and weaknesses that I hoped to learn from my peers and from my institution. If Central Saint Martins was really about diversity, I doubted that a student like me (spending most of my life focusing on math) could get into art school. It was a life changing experience and I am grateful.

Do you think it would have made a difference if you had studied at a local institution?

Definitely yes. After graduating from my master’s degree, I came back to Taiwan and started my own business. One of my jobs as an entrepreneur was to sit on a jury at united. Here, I realized that design schools in Taiwan care more about the appearance of a prototype than the initial idea and process.

There is no right or wrong, but I personally prefer to focus on developing brainstorming. I prefer agile prototyping which is probably the opposite of what a local school in Taiwan would have wanted. This is what Central Saint Martins encouraged during my studies there.

GujuGuju

Chang pictured here with her classmate at Central Saint Martins. Source: Ariel Chang

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I first worked in a company in London, but the visa process took too long, so I came back to Taiwan and started my own business. My parents’ business is purely commercial, while mine focuses on the creative side.

Having graduated in design, it made more sense to me to start my own design business using board games as a starter resource. Since then, I have been on the Forbes 30 under 30 2020 list in Asia in the art category. I also founded another organization called GeGe Game Lab which aims to help the world with games.

How do you use the knowledge and skills acquired during your university experience in your current position?

For my business, I started out as a game designer, but no one taught me how to do it. Fortunately, I studied in an industrial design course where our strength is in research methods, so at first I just applied what I learned in college to game design. I just imagined using the same methods but designing games instead of products and it worked well.

GujuGuju

Chang’s final year project book. Source: Ariel Chang

What were the practical learning elements of your course?

At university, we used mapping to analyze our thinking about the issues we were tackling. It was a basic practice, but when I applied it to game design it became very essential. I have been teaching cartography ever since I discovered how it applies to game design and I think it has helped a lot of my students in their work.

What skills or knowledge do you want you to learn more during college?

I can’t think of any. I learned a lot at Central Saint Martins and the experience changed my way of thinking. Skills and knowledge are things that we can acquire on our own, but culture and thinking are what this international environment can bring.

GujuGuju

Chang deeply appreciates his time abroad at university in UK, as it has broadened his cultural perspective. Source: Ariel Chang

What advice would you give to international students who are considering enrolling in the same course as you?

It is life changing and is artistic. If you are looking for something more practical that involves real design solving realistic problems, this course may not be for you. I don’t think there is a need to solve real world problems while studying, the foundation of thought is more important and it can be applied to life later with more potential.

In 10 years, where would you like to live and what would you like to do?

In 10 years, I would like to stay in my hometown of Taiwan because my family is here. But before these 10 years, I would like to visit the MICA Game Lab for a year to teach and learn. I had the opportunity to be there as a resident designer, but the pandemic made it a challenge. If possible, I would like to return to Central Saint Martins to teach the game.

What are your three favorite things in London?

First, its diversity and its madness. I remember the streets of London during the holidays were wild because you could wear anything without being judged. As a citizen of the world (I was born in Eindhoven, grew up in Taipei and studied abroad) I kind of lost my identity, but in London it was good because everyone is a citizen of the world. Second, the museum, the galleries and exhibitions and finally the Christmas decorations.

GujuGuju

Central Saint Martins has provided Chang with an international environment with much to learn. Source: Ariel Chang

What would you do with US $ 1 million?

I would invest in GeGe Game Lab. I have brought together many volunteers to do game design for people in need (blind, people with dementia, education in rural schools, etc.) where we do not charge them. But in order for the organization to continue to function we will need funding, so this is where US $ 1 million would come in handy.




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