"The story of these three local lads is one of the little man against the big man"
Tom has been a publisher of political, satirical and educational games for over 20 years. His experiences in developing strong graphic approaches to communicating complex ideas and in engaging viewers with work playfully still inform his work today.
Together with collaborators Andy Tompkins and Andrew Sheerin, Tom was one third of the satirical publishing company 'TerrorBull Games', publishing tabletop, digital, event, classroom and print & play games. Terrorbul’s first hit was 'War on Terror the Boardgame', an audacious protest piece of punk publishing that drew a lot of attention. Playboy said, "The Politically accurate, non-jingoistic rules take what could have been a glorified bad-taste joke and turn it into one of the most thought-provoking games we've seen in years". The game was banned from international toy & game fairs, cancelled by high street chains and vilified by the tabloid press. It was classified as 'a dangerous weapon' by police (yes, really), and even resulted in death threats to Andy, Andy and Tom.
Happily the MOD tested ‘War on Terror’ and decided it was useless as a terrorist training tool (they did say it was a ‘damn fine game’). It was subsequently carried by Saatchi and Saatchi, exhibited in the Berlin Academy of Arts and entered into the collections of the Nobel Peace Centre, Imperial War Museum and (unexpectedly) the British Ambassador to Iraq. It was played by Moss and Roy on The IT Crowd.
When publicly protesting with millions of others left a despondent feeling in the air, satirising The War on Terror through the medium of a board game seemed like the thing to do. It was supposed to be a side project but took on a life of it's own. After selling 35,000 copies worldwide today you might be lucky to find it on ebay, luckily you will be sure to find it in the permanent collections of...
The game spent three months under glass in the Berlin Academy of Arts as part of the 'Embedded Art' exhibition in 2009. Terrorbull Games played the game in the gallery as a performance piece (not under glass) on the opening evening as part of the "Long Night of the Museums" - an annual event that sees museums right across Berlin opening their doors late and laying on extra (often free) attractions for the public. TerrorBull Games were installed in the top floor of the gallery, with a bar, a DJ and a large balcony overlooking Pariser Platz and the Brandenburg Gate where a range of war on terror themed cocktails were served. What is that famous quote? "What's the point of a revolution if you can't play a banned board game, drink and dance."
Here below is some of coverage received from around the globe. After that there's a whole bunch of other satirical social satire games publishing Terrorbull Games has made over the years. TerrorBull Games partnered with and designed games for Greenpeace, SOAS London University (the world's leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East) The London Comedy Film Festival and the BFI as well as collaborating with Amnesty International.
WAR ON TERROR COVERAGE
From Amnesty onwards click through the carousel of coverage from around the world...
'WAR ON TERROR THE APPLICATION' The App
CRUNCH - THE GAME FOR UTTER BANKERS
Crunch is the second physical game from TerrorBull Games. In order to spread catastrophic capitalistic joy (and depression) Terrorbull licenced Crunch in 5 languages: French, German, Spanish, Italian and Estonian. And what a game it is too, a sharp two deck card game that shines a light and lets you be the best banker in the room, the CEO with the most, just as long as you leave your morals behind and embrace capitalism.
THE HEN COMMANDMENTS
A Chicken based build your own religion party game
Tom's partner in crime Andrew Sheerin on Fox News talking boardgames as a vehicle for satire, taking offence and a wee glimpse at the soon to be released game The Hen Commandmennts in 2015.
PRINT & PLAY GAMES
Andrew & Tom designed and illustrated Print & Play games for the following good folks as well as for themselves. They discovered a free to download print & play game can be a beautiful gift and a playful and powerful way to get your message across.
Download PDF of metakettle here by clicking on the image, or if you want a less ink heavy version the click on the 'lighter' image below.
"One of the most interesting political games ever made"
'Play Matters' - page 74
Metakettle is a game about being kettled, recursively re-enacting the moment of kettling in the middle of a kettle. It difuses conflict into a game - and then distils the game back into a conflict as you realise the cops will always win.
Metakettle is, quite simply, a game about being kettled, to play when you're being kettled, to pass the time until you're not being kettled any more. It's a group game, so all you need is other people; no dice or anything. You pick an animal, shout that animal name constantly and try and recruit other "players". When you have enough people, you capture more players by completely encircling - or kettling - them. They then join your animal team and it's onwards and upwards until you've kettled the entire group. At that point you realise the cops have won and you start again.
It's an attempt to diffuse a potentially confrontational situation but it might also keep your mind off the fact you're being illegally detained in the street without access to basic amenities like toilets, shelter or water.
We produced two versions of the game to print out. One to frame and put on the mantelpiece and one that won't use your entire black ink cartridge/toner in one go.