‘Board games saved my life, now I’m making my own’

PUBLISHED: 17:30 04 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:02 10 October 2017

Barrington Campbell, founder of Kagai Games. Picture: Dafydd Owen

Barrington Campbell, founder of Kagai Games. Picture: Dafydd Owen

Dafydd Owen 2017

An autistic man who says board games saved his life has decided to set up a business creating his own – but needs help to fund his dream.

Barrington needs help funding his new board game. Picture: Barrington Campbell Barrington needs help funding his new board game. Picture: Barrington Campbell

Barrington Campbell, 31, was severely bullied at school in the East End and moved to Canonbury as a teenager.

As he was still not diagnosed with Asperger’s, and wouldn’t be until the age of 29, he struggled socially and couldn’t understand why. After a suicide attempt in his mid 20s, he rekindled his love of games in the hospital, and soon after joined a board game club with people with autism.

Although he was “kicked out” as he was too high-functioning, Barrington had discovered that board games allowed him to interact with people and understand them better. His favourite was strategy game Settlers of Catan.

“Board games serve a purpose,” he told the Gazette. “Computer games are amazing but board games give you social interaction. It is a way of measuring people’s emotions and physical states that is tied to something logical. It helps me understand people better.”

When it came, Barrington’s diagnosis helped him understand himself better, particularly why he found it so hard to be sociable and make friends. In January his therapist suggested he focus on what he loves, so he created 57 board games in a month and formed Kagai Games.

“I went away and wrote a board game in two hours, complete with rules and everything,” he continued. “I’m hyper-focused but the games people played they enjoyed. They said: ‘Why don’t you help other people?’”

Barrington’s new game is based on the story of Koi and the Yellow River, inspired by Japanese and Chinese folk tales. It comprises 20 individual stories that can be selected by players at random.

“The aim is to eventually form a travelling group, go round schools, play games with people and show them how much of a tool it is,” he added. “That it has that social involvement and joy without feeling left out.”

He has now launched a crowdfunder to help build his prototype and get his business of the ground. Rewards will be offered in return for donations and Barrington has vowed to give 25 per cent of profits to the National Autistic Society, which has helped him set up the campaign.

To donate, click here. A launch event will also take place tomorrow at Wusi Space, in Broadway Market at 6.30pm.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 13:06

Weather warnings have been issued across London following heavy snowfall overnight and this morning.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Here in Islington, we are used to creative forms of protest outside the town hall. In September, for instance, Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners rallied with their own version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Do you know these men? Police today released images of two people wanted in connection with a knifepoint robbery at Drayton Park station, in the shadow of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The town hall will not ban Airbnb in Islington.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Torture survivors staged a festive choir concert on Wednesday in Holloway.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Islington’s transport boss has been criticised for removing a pledge to cut deaths on the borough’s roads from the wording of a council motion.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A 2,303-strong petition against the closure of Sotheby Mews Day Centre was presented to Islington Council last night.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A couple say their wish to adopt is being held up because the town hall hasn’t fixed a leak from the flat above theirs for 18 months – leaving the spare bedroom uninhabitable.


“With teenagers there’s a lot of banter, and you can really establish a relationship. You have to trust teenagers to make their own decisions.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now