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Shining Your Own Light by Linking Up Your Footprints
"I aspire to leave a mark, to create something of my own in this world," shares Manuel Cheung, a Lingnan University Bachelor of Social Sciences graduate and the founder of YMC Boardgame, a board game studio. During his academic journey, Manuel served as the Chairman of the 11th Student Hostel Association of Hostel A - Ameba, where he was actively involved in student affairs.
Upon graduation, he pursued a career in sales and promotion within the construction materials industry. However, the unexpected onset of the pandemic led him to reevaluate his understanding and perspective on work and life. Last year, following the successful launch of his self-designed board game Chesney through crowdfunding, Manuel made the bold decision to leave his secure full-time job. He founded a board game studio with the aspiration of promoting the joy and benefits of board games to a wider audience.

Lifetime Skills Gained from Memorable Student Association Experiences
When asked about the most memorable experience in Lingnan, Manuel answered without hesitation, "Participating in student association." Ever since he joined the Orientation Camp of the Student Hostel Association as a freshman and experienced university hostel life for the first time, he has been fascinated with the culture and atmosphere of hostel life. Soon he found like-minded hallmates and formed a committee. "Working as a committee member in student association is an intense and arduous task, especially for student hostel association, because hostel is 24/7. Whenever we meet a student living in the hostel, we are representing the association committee.” Unlike secondary school student organizations that operate under teacher’s supervision, university student societies are student-led and offer greater autonomy. From the promotion period to inauguration, by participating in student association he acquired many soft skills such as event promotion, audiences engagement, teamwork, etc. Manuel described himself already being involved in the "service provider" industry at this time. "Technically I was responsible for student affairs, but in fact it is already a service industry. And students are our customer." His involvement in the association also taught him invaluable lessons in self-regulation. He learned to handle criticism, manage negative emotions, and foster self-confidence and resilience. Manuel strongly believes that acquiring these skills early on equips you better to handle stress and failures in the future, promoting quicker recovery from setbacks.

Learn to Balance between Solitude and Socializing through Hostel Life
Manuel had three years of fulfilling hostel life in Lingnan and forged strong bonding with fellow hallmates. His “comrades” (association committee members) who used to go through fire and water together also became his irreplaceable friends. He is of the belief that the relationships formed in the unique environment of a student hostel are stronger than those with future colleagues and other friends, as they provide the opportunity to witness each other's true nature and understand individual temperaments. According to Manuel, hostel life is an invaluable experience for students, serving as a precursor to stepping into society. He likens hostel life to society itself, emphasizing the importance of finding one's place and learning to work in harmony with others. He states, "Everyone has different schedules and paces, the world doesn't revolve around you. Striking a balance between personal and social life requires continuous adjustment and compromise." One of the most rewarding aspects of Manuel's hostel life was finding love. His wife was not only his junior sister, but also a groupmate during orientation, and his successor in the student hostel association committee. This unique journey solidified their bond, and they remain as close as ever.

Successful Publication of Self-Designed Boardgame under the Pandemic
Like many people born in the 1980s and 1990s in Hong Kong, Manuel’s first exposure to board games were the “classics” such as Monopoly and Legends of the Three Kingdoms. It was the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 which motivated him to shift from the role of player to creator. With the epidemic raging and social restriction, Manuel often played board games at home with his wife and friends to kill time. As his knowledge and interest to boardgame grew day by day, he then came up with the idea of ​​creating his own board game. At first, he merely did it for own personal interest and did not intend to commercialize the game. Manuel single-handedly conceptualized the gameplay, illustrated the game's elements, and sought manufacturers to create prototypes. After several iterations and refinements, his friends encouraged him to publish his game.
Understanding that traditional publishing methods which relying on manufacturers or distributors for marketing are risky, he finally settled on Kickstarter, a large American fundraising platform, and launched a crowdfunding This popular American fundraising platform was chosen as it allowed remote access for users to review the game, provide feedback, and decide the production quantity based on demand. To promote his game, Manuel shared it with local and international YouTubers such as “Before you play” and “Meeple University” for trial play and evaluation. He also visited 15 local board game studios and organized over 20 trial play sessions. His efforts were rewarded, as he successfully raised HKD$150,000 in start-up capital to publish his game in 2023. His supporters spanned the globe, showcasing the wide appeal of his unique creation.

Self-Transformation Driven by Integration of Experience and Skill Sets
During the two years of crowdfunding, Manuel accumulated many connections in the board game industry and gained more ideas and insights about board games, which let him see the possibility of developing board games in Hong Kong. At the same time, the impact of the epidemic and his career bottleneck inspired him with a new perspective on work and life. "I kept reflecting on what I want to get from my work... I want to leave some footprints… something for myself in the world." Therefore, after discussing with his wife, Manuel made a bold decision of quitting his full-time job and publishing Chesney by opening a board game studio. "I applied the art skills I learned in secondary school into game illustrations, and applied the soft skills I learned from being student association committee into customer service. Even the decoration of the studio here was based on my knowledge gained from my previous job!" Manuel pointed to the interior of the studio and said, "It's fortunate to have encountered an business that can combine all my skills and interests into one. It just feels like calling in all my previous side quests in the game!"

People-Oriented Board Game Studio with the Philosophy of Generalism
At Manuel's board game studio, the focus is not on intense competition or complex games, but rather on fostering a relaxing atmosphere and nurturing interpersonal relationships. Manuel aims to shatter the myth that board games are a niche interest by offering a welcoming and spacious environment for all. "Our goal is to make each visitor feel at home and to redefine the perception of board games," he explains. " For future goals, Manuel revealed that he has already started conceiving the second game. He also planned on making different attempts in promoting board games. He jokingly called himself a “slasher” in the board game industry: "I am a designer, an initiator, a keeper, a service provider, and a lecturer of board games. I can take part in any work related to board games!"
Looking back on his studies and career, Manuel indicated that the Social Science major in Lingnan had a profound impact on him. "Social science is a 'generalist' subject. It may not be able to make you a 'specialist' in a certain field, but it can definitely get you involved in different aspects of society, arouse your interest in various things, and make you a 'professional' in certain areas, such as organizing activities, being leaders, etc." Finally, he encouraged young Lingnanians to engage in student affairs: "When you dedicate yourself to something and work hard enough on it, that process will bring you some new interests, inspirations, and values. Regardless of whether these experiences directly impact your career, they are invaluable and uniquely yours."