The following piece is a guest blog entry. The views expressed in it are not necessarily those of Runway Games and are entirely those of the author. For more posts like this by the author, check out this page.
Hi lovely ladies and gentlemen, the Cardboard Crafter here! I blog over at Cardboard Crafter, but I have been graciously invited to share some of my craftiness with you folks!
I wanted to share with you one of my most recent projects – a fun (yet slightly educational) board game. This project was initially inspired by the materials I had on hand – namely an old game board which was missing all the other pieces and instructions. Hey, it was cardboard, and I cannot resist the temptation of its infinite possibilities. Also, it was a Curious George game board, and so I had to stamp out its original identity and replace it with something a little less useless. (Yes, I have a thing against Ol’ Georgie. Best not to ask.) But I digress.
To make my board, I removed the spinner and spray-painted the original game board black. If you don’t have an old Curious George game board to up-cycle, a nice piece of corrugated cardboard would work just as well. You can finish the edges with decorative tape and make a nice crease in the middle for folding. Easy peasy. Here’s what I came up with:
Because my son, John the Archaeologist (as he calls himself) is such a big fan of Indiana Jones, and therefore all things archaeology, I chose “Archaeology Adventure” as my theme (and game title). The game squares (which were placed in existing indentations in the board – you could place yours wherever you want) represent chambers in a tomb which you, the archaeologist, are trying to excavate. The winner is the archaeologist who gets to the center first – and therefore discovers the best artifacts in the main chamber.
It doesn’t really matter what theme you choose, however, just so long as there is one. Your characters could be marching through a battle zone, making their way through a haunted castle, escaping a funhouse, whatever. The same principle applies – start at “Start,” follow the arrows, end at “End.” This game makes use of a spinner to determine how each piece moves. You could use dice, a coin flip, draw a number out of a hat, etc. Oh, the possibilities.
My game pieces were pilfered from Mr. The Archaeologist’s (my son’s) army men collection. Any little toy which will stand up and fit in your game squares will do – remember all the random objects Monopoly uses? You can be just as weird – I mean creative – with your game pieces. As long as your players can tell which piece is which and which square their guy occupies, it’s all good.
You may have noticed that not all of my tomb chambers (read: game squares) are the same. Some of them are “Lose a turn” or “go back X number of spaces” squares, and others have little pictures on them (also stolen from Google – don’t judge). I call these my “Puzzle” squares and my “Trap” squares. If you land on a “Puzzle” square (the one with the rectangular tiles on the picture) you have to answer a quiz question – which gives you another spin if you get it correct. A “Trap” square gives you a scenario your archaeologist faces which generally results in your either gaining or losing a number of spaces.
The 15 “Trap” cards were fun to come up with, and include scenarios like your character’s computer crashing and losing all research, receiving a research grant, or suffering the Pharoah’s Curse (go back to Start). I didn’t need to make too many of these because they can just be shuffled and used over if you run out during game play.
The “Puzzle” cards, on the other hand, took a little more work. I was able to come up with 15 archaeology quiz questions on my own involving things like the Nazca Lines, the Great Wall of China, and Stone Henge. Because this game was just for fun for my kids, and not going to be sold, manufactured, or licensed, I cheated a little to get the rest of the cards. Another Google search dug up a great archaeology website for kids, which has a series of archaeology quizzes for kids. I may or may not have lifted a few questions from here to flesh out my list of questions…
Once the card content was developed, I got a little lazy and just printed the text out and cut and pasted it onto different colored note cards. The awesome way to do this would have been to lay out the cards in a program like InDesign or even Publisher so that the text can be fit properly to the cards and the backs of the cards could have the proper symbol on them. But I didn’t do that – I was tired and wanted to get the job done. So I made the cards the old fashioned way – with blood, sweat, and scissors.
Once all the pieces were in place, it was time for a play test. The kids and I all sat down and I read them the instructions I had so neatly typed up the night before on special parchment-style paper. Because Archaeology. And we spun the spinner. And we played.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my spinner had too many negative numbers on it, so I took out my handy-dandy pencil and fixed that. -2 became +2 and we got going. The kids didn’t know many of the quiz question answers, but that didn’t hold them back. This game was actually pretty successful – entertaining, fun, educational. Win-win. (Except for John the Archaeologist – who lost.) We will just have to play it again 🙂