Unlocking Imagination: How Gridopolis is Changing the Game
For the next Gen Con 2023 article we meet Dave Schultze, the designer behind Gridopolis. We purchased this game at the con and our family loves it. We hope you will enjoy getting to know more.
Hello, readers! If you’re anything like us, you’re always on the hunt for games that shake things up, provide fresh challenges, and make you think. That’s why we’re excited to bring you an exclusive interview with the brains behind Gridopolis—a game that’s dynamic, fun and engaging. We met up with Dave Schultze, the creator of this creative, ever-changing game at Gen Con and let us tell you, it was love at first sight—or maybe love at first play. Get ready to dive into the world of Gridopolis, a game that promises to be a ‘perfect storm of STEM.’
GeekPost: We met you and purchased this at Gen Con. Our family loves the game! How was the Con for you?
Dave: Though it was only our second time at Gen Con, it was our best ever! We sold more games than any other product in our booth. I even offered to sign boxes and take photos with anyone who purchased the game. It turned out that every single buyer took me up on the offer, which was very special to me.
GeekPost: What sparked the idea of Gridopolis? What challenges were there in designing a game that allows capturing opponents and timed play, and modifying the “board”?
Dave: My inspiration for Gridopolis comes from many experiences I’ve had. First, I’ve been a fan of Lego, 3D chess from Star Trek, and other building games since I was a child. As a designer, it became a personal challenge to create something totally new and original that was simple, fun, and endlessly changeable. I also had great memories of playing games with my grandparents, so another challenge was to make the game inclusive.
GeekPost: What steps did you take to ensure that the game appeals to both casual gamers and hardcore strategy enthusiasts?
Dave: When developing Gridopolis, we really focused on the rules and gameplay. The end product had to be easy to learn, but also flexible enough that you could make changes! Many people have a favorite configuration—or as well call them “gridsets”—and that’s all they play. Others love to create their own designs ─ and rules ─ and get crazy creative. The interchangeable parts and our Game Design Guide allows players to use Gridopolis however they want.
GeekPost: You mentioned in our initial meeting that this game is great for STEM play. Why did you employ this in Gridopolis? How well received has this game been by educators?
Dave: Gridopolis is the ‘perfect storm of STEM’ because it covers the basic skills like logic, strategy, critical thinking, and 3D visualization. Additionally, there is a creative and social component to Gridopolis that encourages collaboration and experimentation.
As a result, educators have been overwhelmingly complimentary about the game. Our multiple educational awards back this up, including Toy of the Year (finalist for STEM), Mensa Select (only 10 selected each year) and Newsweek’s ‘Best of STEM.’ We’ve won over a dozen awards at this point!
GeekPost: How did you come up with the name ‘Gridopolis,’?
Dave: The name is inspired by a few things. First, I wanted the title to be something that never existed before, which is pretty hard to do. It took a lot of brainstorming and researching. Second, the root-word ‘Grid’ reflected the connectivity of the structure and parts. Finally, as an architect and Superman fan, I thought using ‘Metropolis’ would help capture the idea of building and expanding.
GeekPost: What would you say differentiates it from other games in the market?
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Dave: First of all, there is nothing like Gridopolis currently on the market! So many games, as fun as they may be, are conventional, static, unchanging, and two-dimensional. We decided to break every rule of game design and create a game that is fun, three-dimensional, and dynamically changes while you play. No two games of Gridopolis will ever be alike!
GeekPost: Has game creation been something you have always wanted to do?
Dave: I’ve always loved games, but I’m open to designing ANYTHING that is new and different. As an architect and product designer, I’ve created hundreds of designs in my career. It wasn’t until I started teaching at OTIS College of Art and Design in the Toy Department that I landed Mattel, Hasbro, and Educational Insights as clients and realized that I have toy and game design skills.
GeekPost: What do you want players to take away from playing Gridopolis?
Dave: It’s important to know that you will have never seen anything like it, but you already know how to play. This means we borrowed classic rules people already know, so it’s easy to learn. But it’s also a fun, unique and infinitely changeable ‘game system.’ Sometimes, people are intimidated when I tell them that Gridopolis is a system. But don’t let that scare you! It just means that you can build new configurations while using similar rules from games you already know, like Checkers and Tic-Tac-Toe. Not to mention, it has the flexibility to allow players to design their very own original games!
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GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek? What does that mean to you?
Dave: I am a very proud and ‘notorious’ geek. To me, geek means a mixture of a super fan combined with technical proficiency or knowledge. I use some highly complex software in my work, from 3D modeling and rendering, to video editing, and even some animation software.
GeekPost: The game appears to be well constructed and the pieces stay together impressively. Can you discuss the challenges you faced in the decision-making process, specifically regarding the quality and durability of the game components?
Dave: This is where my 3D modeling and prototyping skills really helped out. Before ever sending an order to a factory, I 3D-printed Gridopolis parts hundreds of times for design review, fit-testing, and gameplay-testing. I already had a lot of 3D printing experience, but always used outside vendors. For Gridopolis, I decided to buy a quality 3D printer of my own, and I was shocked at how much it helped my design process.
With my own printer, I could test parts, make changes to the 3D model, and then print out a new design all in the same day. A process that usually took up to a week, I was able to do it in just hours. This process helped me master the engineering and improve the design. In fact, the factory told us that we provided the best tooling documentation they had ever seen.
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GeekPost: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring game designers who want to create their own unique games?
Dave: There are two big things that beginning designers often miss. First, they don’t do enough research to make sure that their idea hasn’t already been done. Second, they don’t test nearly as much as they should. This is typically because the process is so unfamiliar, and they are unaware of how much refinement goes into any design you see. Not to mention, established companies are often evaluating dozens or hundreds of ideas before they pursue a winner. It takes a lot of inspiration, ideation, and iteration to arrive at something special like we have with Gridopolis.
A massive thank you to Dave Schultze, the mastermind and innovator behind Gridopolis. A cocktail of creativity, STEM skills, and a dash of geekiness has resulted in a game that’s been well-received by not just families but educators too. If you would like to get your hands on this amazing game, Click Here. Do not forget to check out social media as well.
Have you played Gridopolis, or have something else you want to know? Leave a comment below.