by Elizabeth Savin ’25
The Garage recently had the opportunity to speak with Elam Blackwell ’22, founder of Mark IV Games, to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey and the company. Mark IV Games is a board game startup made up of six students working together to create and publish a self-designed board game. Their flagship game, Factions of Sol, is currently available to be played online and is entering the manufacturing process.
Elam is a student at Northwestern pursuing a double major in physics and theatre. “My three passions are physics, theatre, and board games. I was hoping to find ways to pursue all three in college.” Elam and his five collaborators met while playing Dungeon and Dragons. With all six sharing a passion for board games, they made the decision to work together in order to learn more about the process of creating a well-designed game. The team took their pursuit quite a few steps further, working to self-publish a board game before they graduate, and have since created Factions of Sol, a science-based game that ties in real-world astronomy and physics.
In the past year, Mark IV Games has been focusing on three main areas of their business. First, the company has been working on marketing in order to continue to grow its following online and in person on campus. This includes their social media platforms, Discord, and a newsletter (check out the bottom of the article for links to all of the above!). Also, the team has been working on manufacturing, creating samples of the game to send to reviewers as well as beginning the manufacturing process. Finally, the team has been developing the art for the game, their largest challenge since day one. The team is working to design a rulebook as well as ads and Kickstarter graphics. “I think one of the hardest things is this is a project that requires more time than any of us have to give,” reflected Elam. Each member of the team is incredibly passionate about their end goal but still needs to take time to focus on coursework and their numerous other commitments.
As a whole, the team is incredibly excited to be in their final stages of game development. “Apart from catching the occasional typo, there is no more about the game that needs to be designed,” shared Elam. “It is incredible to see that people enjoy playing our game.” Upon reflecting on the development of the game, Elam stressed how supportive The Garage has been throughout the whole process. Elam was one of the first recipients of The Garage’s Opportunity Fund, and the first-ever prototype of the game was made and play-tested at The Garage.
Elizabeth Savin ’25 is a Manufacturing and Design Engineering major from Wilmette, IL. She is a student aide at The Garage and is excited to become involved in the programs The Garage offers students. Her favorite thing about The Garage is that students have the opportunity to receive hands-on experience with entrepreneurship.