Diary #7 – Find the Turtle

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I discovered today that having a challenge for kids to take part in, even if irrelevant to the game you’re trying to promote, is a good way to get them, and their parents, interested in your stand. Master of Olympus currently uses a turtle-meeple to represent the Sea Creature, and looking for it in a forest of armies and fleets turned out to be quite appealing (it’s visible in the picture above, can you find the turtle?)

Today was my big day of promotion, with a big chunk of the stand to myself. People were very interested. I realised that the board game crowd is the perfect group of people to be pitching a stand to: by our nature we are interested in intricate things, and patient enough to investigate stuff that, on the surface, looks like a load of random bits in a box. You don’t get that at a car boot sale.

I did give myself two hours off to watch games being pitched at the Wyvern’s Lair. I saw some really interesting ideas, which was good as this is probably the last expo in which I’ll take the time off to go to the event. The pitched games gave me an idea: how about a game where you run a zoo except you use your animals to build the zoo as well as being the exhibits, and you have to balance the time they spend making you money with the time they spend building you new exhibits? It’s a horrible, horrible idea and I shall never speak of it again.

Games for children. That’s the interesting thing for me. Find the Turtle is nothing. I’ve been asking children what they think of an idea of mine: a euro game in which you play as Santa’s elves making toys. Most of them have turned their noses up at it, but the parents have seemed interested. Odd.

Speaking to children about gaming has been a great pleasure for me at expo (I’ve also been encouraging them to dig out their Lego collections and start designing). I’ve spent most of my adult life working with children in some way or other and I don’t see this stopping any time soon. In my current role as a supply teacher I’ve had the pleasure of teaching A-level scientists on one day followed by nursery school children the next. I have plans (and I’m by no means alone in this) to use board games to bring STEM activities to classrooms. Themes aside, the logic, creativity and cause-effect relationships in gaming are excellent tools for children’s development, especially now that computer programming is finally involved in the national curriculum. More on this topic later.

Tomorrow: I’m at the Playtest UK stand most of the day, come and find me if you’re around. Otherwise I’ve a few manufacturing and 3D-printing stands to visit, and I will be spending time supporting Mateusz Rakowski with his stand. Mat has designed a family-friendly tile laying game about shoals of Krill and their noble Krill Knight defenders, and has aspirations to create networks for designers to support one another.

See you there.

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