What you’ll need: a board, pawns

Songlist: Video Games by Lana Del Rey, Play On by Carrie Underwood

Further reading: A Game of Thrones by R. R. Martin

Pieces on a Risk game board

Caveat: Bowing to social and cultural pressures, I read The Hunger Games this weekend. And yes, there are Gamemakers in that book that pit 24 teenagers against each other in a battle royale. And yes, when trying to come up with this week’s topic I thought of the bazillions of people who lined up to see said teenagers murder each other on the big screen (in 3D, why not!) So this is definitely a tie-in–I decided against “How to be an assassin”–yet my idea of game making is quite different from the casual sadism of Suzanne Collins’s dystopia.

I made my first board game in second grade in a class called Dominoes and Domiciles. My game was a typical sequential journey where you advanced along a track by rolling dice and picking up cards along the way. The twist was that you could pick one of six tracks, each one affiliated with an endangered animal. I spent hours researching each of my six animals, writing game cards, drawing the elaborate board, and creating tokens to stand in for the animals. After presenting it to the class, I eagerly brought my Endangered Species of the World game home (doesn’t it sound fun?!?) and made my family play it with me. The game started off with enthusiasm, but quickly turned sour when my brother and parents were unable to answer the trivia cards that guaranteed extra rewards (“The size of a bald eagle generally corresponds with what rule?…Bergmann Rule!?! Seriously, Jenna, how was I supposed to know that?”) I, of course, knew all the answers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson. In seventh grade, my best friend and I created a Lewis and Clark board game which was exactly the same concept as my endangered species game (I think you could even be one of six characters with corresponding trivia to answer). My family, however, had learned their lesson, and refused to play when I brought the game home.

So I might not be the best game maker…yet. In fact, it seems fairly difficult to create a game that keeps players coming back. Of course, there are plenty of classics. I’m especially partial to Clue and Risk because they are simple enough for a child to play yet complicated enough to keep an adult entertained.

The new favorite

There is one new game in contention to become a classic in our house, though. For Christmas, my dad bought my mom a game called Marrakech, something like a simplified version of Monopoly. Players set down rugs in the marketplace, and pay taxes if they land on someone else’s rug. A game only last about 20 minutes which makes it much more palatable than starting a game of Monopoly, and, since they rugs are brightly colored, much prettier as well. At the end of the instruction booklet, we found a note about game company, Gigamic: game designers collect royalties for every game of theirs sold, and Gigamic is always open to new suggestions.

So don’t worry, world, as soon as I come up with a better board game concept than asking obscure trivia that only I know the answer to, I am contacting Gigamic straightaway. And then I’ll just watch the Monopoly money roll in.