​unlikely obsessions: mark moore and board games

In an ongoing series of interviews, i-D talks to all manner of creative and interesting folks about specific things they love which you somehow wouldn't expect them to love. We speak to Mark Moore of S’Express about his love for board games.

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Jan 14 2016, 10:40am

Mark Moore has been an in-demand DJ and producer for over thirty years. He was a punk in the late 70s, and a very early pioneer of House music in mid-80s London, he then formed the band S'Express in 1988. During the same year, their giddy-dance-pop debut single, Theme From S'Express, topped the charts across the world, followed by a string of other best-selling singles and albums.

As the Acid House phenomenon subsequently spread across the UK in the late-80s - and the police, government and media tried to stamp it out - a photo of Mark memorably appeared alongside an alarmist tabloid article. The headline screeched: ACID HOUSE: Sex, Drugs and Music Cult Risk To Our Children, implying the DJ-turned-popstar was practically forcing the nation's hapless youth to guzzle ecstasy and fondle each other at illegal all-night raves.

As busy as ever, Mark continues to release and remix new and old S'Express tracks and currently DJs at some of the Capital's best club nights and venues, such as Horse Meat Disco, or Private Life, his own monthly event in Dalston, as well as East Bloc and The Glory, to name a few.

Despite his ongoing love of nightlife and music, he also likes to indulge a considerably less brash passion, as he now reveals to i-D. Thankfully, playing board games is an activity unlikely to provoke further tabloid scandal!

You were involved in the London punk scene of the late 70s and the club scenes of the 80s... was there time for board games amidst all this social activity?
There's this wonderful picture from the punk days of Siouxsie Sioux in a cosy cardigan, sitting on the floor playing Monopoly. I think those of us labelled Generation X were reared on board games, so the urge is always lurking even if you think you've kicked the habit. Board games never crossed my mind during the punk days but a couple of years later we started playing Risk again -- anyone invading India would have to put on the Psychedelic Furs track of the same name -- along with Buccaneer and a Marxists vs Capitalists game called Class Struggle which often ended in nuclear war. Monopoly was indeed boring by then and board games conjured up that awful feeling of being trapped with relatives at Christmas... or of people in cloaks playing Dungeons And Dragons. So, never again would I touch another depressing board game. That is, until the designer games came along, the Eurogames as they are called, along with their Ameritrash cousins. The Eurogames are the anti-Monopoly of our current times.

Did you and the other members of S'Express used to play board games?
Not really. I remember we tried to revive board games when the Rave game came out. It caused shock and horror in the press as you had to make money by dealing pills. They even slagged off Richard Branson for selling it in the Virgin Megastore. Everyone was so mashed from three day clubbing and ecstasy that no one could actually figure out the rules, which seemed far too complicated, so I think we only played once. I must read those rules again, I bet they're really simple now.

How many board games do you own and what most appeals to you about them?
I own about 15. I'm trying to wean myself off 'stuff' so I'm giving away a game to either friends or my godchildren if I buy a new one. I'm sick of being a consumer but those shiny, beautifully designed games, like Alien Frontiers, with it's 50s sci-fi theme, are just so tempting. Some of the boards could be framed, or the game sat around could be an object d'art. But at the end of the day, all looks and no brains or gameplay makes a pretty rubbish board game. I like a game where the mechanics are so well designed that all the players are engrossed, entertained and thrilled. Games that make you laugh are also good. A health and fitness website recommended board games to keep you healthy, as laughing was good for you and the games made you release endorphins whilst keeping your brain stimulated. Who knew?

Do you own any really rare ones?
One of my holy grails is Gay Monopoly where you get to build gay bars and bathhouses instead of houses and hotels. The locations have Fire Island and Castro Street and it's got Tom Of Finland imagery. The tokens you move include a leather cap, handcuffs and a stiletto heel. It also comes with Hanky Code cards. I think it got banned for breaching copyright. I had the Avalon Hill game of Dune, the sci-fi classic, which is a board game holy grail. I found it in a charity shop. I tried to teach so many friends how to play but they would recoil in horror at the complexity and the hundreds of bits in the game. I think my Alfred Hitchcock edition of Cluedo might be rare. It's great as it has little metal pieces for the murder weapons such as a seagull from The Birds, the knife from Psycho and the oven from Torn Curtain.

Which is your favourite board game of all time?
Possible contenders amongst the new ones are T.I.M.E Stories - you can play as Vasil the cocaine addict who dishes out lines to revive the health of weary co-players - and Pandemic Legacy. Once you've played them that's it, you can't play them again! You also rip up cards and write on the board for Pandemic Legacy, as you progress, so each game is unique to you and your friends.

Who do you usually play them with?
It takes place at mine and is now a regular occurrence. Sometimes you have to book a place in advance. Most of my friends and also my sister partake. Pam Hogg has been and she played Coup, which is a political assassination, bluffing game. She managed to kill everyone without even trying. Better watch that girl I say. Trevor Jackson came and got really stressed out during a game of Ticket To Ride Europe so I might have to put him back on Jenga and try to build him up from there.

Are you fiercely competitive or a gracious loser when playing?
I like the fun best. Winning is great but not as important as the laughs, the getting together and sharing an experience. It's interesting how you can divide people into two types. Those who enjoy the game whether they win or lose and those who never enjoy the game unless they win. I think the way people play board games really reflects the way they go through life.

markmoore.com

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Text James Anderson