Today I did some research to find out if there is any real competition for Board Games related to Culture – that includes cultural traditions, customs as language as well as geographical information about a country.
I started with the ones that a few children named on my questionnaire from my primary research. (Not many children could name a board game that teaches about different cultures).
Firstly there were some games that the children mentioned as a game that teaches about culture that are not related to culture at all:
(I thought that I would mention them to be thorough in my research).
Monopoly – Not really related to culture at all, is related to purchasing property as it is a property trading game. Although there are many editions of the game eg. Original, World Edition, City Edition, Empire Edition, Editions for various film sagas and television shows, the rules, ideas and structure of the game is basically exactly the same.
The World Edition does feature the Eiffel Tower, Sidney Opera House and other world famous monuments, the purpose of the game is to purchase locations and get your passport stamped. Therefore this edition has the exact same purpose as the original Monopoly game and is not particularly relevant to culture.
Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders – Has no relevance to teaching about culture. The main goal being to reach the end square by climbing the ladders and avoiding the snakes. The game does not involve any question cards or any cultural discussion – it involves simply throwing a dice, counting and moving the game piece to reach the end.
The next few could be viewed by some as relating to culture, however after carrying out my research, they are more relevant to geography, maps and invasion than culture:
Top Trumps – Would depend on the top trumps card set and top trumps generally only provide basic facts.
I could not find a cultural deck of top trumps at all – the only things I found were more geographical: eg. Top Trumps Countries of the Worlf has the area per thousand miles, the population of the country, olympic medal amount, highest point and flight time from Washington DC. This has no relevance to culture at all, only geography.
Risk – Is a game more focused on invading and occupying other countries which is the complete opposite of what I am trying to achieve as it delivers completely the wrong message. Therefore this is no direct competition for my Board Game Idea. I have played Risk a few times and it is not really relevant to culture at all and although a great game, is never ending which is something that I do not want for children. It is sold as “The Game For Global Domination.”
Guess Who – Not particularly culturally related, only the fact that you can identify aspects such as skin colour, hair colour, etc. Therefore this is no competition for my Board Game Idea. I have played it and for me it is just a guessing game.
Trivial Pursuit – Not really a cultural orientated game, more to do with many different things. The question cards include: Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts and Literature, Science and Nature, Sports and Leisure. I’ve sat and looked through loads of the cards and I have not found questions about culture. I love the game, but it is different to what I am trying to achieve although I like the shape of the board.
Around The World (Frank)
Around The World (Frank) – Not particularly culture orientated, more geographically orientated and not much of it. Has 64 Country Game Cards, but only has an image of that countries flag, currency, language spoken, capital city, and name something – eg. name the famous monument related to that country. It only teaches things that are on the surface, not things like values and traditions etc. that contribute towards making a culture.
Then I went on to try and find more culturally related board games myself through internet research and this is what I found:
Around The World (Around The World Games)
Around The World (Around The World Games) – Has some mild cultural aspects, however I have read a few reviews and one was from a world history teacher who is an expert so they know what they are talking about when it comes to the world and culture. They stated that the questions had not been researched properly and incorrect. Additionally; they said the questions were far too easy for 8+ years.
The game has four categories: Geography (not completely relevant to culture, more about populations), Language (some good aspects), People and Places (more about leaders of countries or religions) and Culture and Customs (eg. what is the English national anthem?). It’s a reasonable start, but it is not detailed enough and does not go into any cultural aspects.
Passport to Culture
Passport to Culture – Is described as a game to test knowledge of geography, people and places, world treasures, greetings,food and drink, cultures and customs with an aim of filling a passport with stamps to win the game.
Again many questions seem to relate to geography, world leaders, the weather and seasons. In the description of the product, there are only 24 culture cards, that do not refer directly to any specific cultures, therefore; leaving no way of learning about a culture through the culture cards. There are some questions relating to customs of countries, but I think they could elaborate more with the answers as no one knows why something is customary. Additionally; the game has to be imported from the USA and costs around £50 in delivery and import fees.
Also the question has an answer to a different question upside down on the same side which could cause some confusion. The actual answer is on the back with another different question. It would be more logical to have the answer to the question on the same side, but still upside down as someone else reads the question for you to answer.
A few reviews that I read were critical of the game saying “It is not user friendly” and “It was more a game of lucky guesses” and “The trivia questions weren’t interesting and not easy to read”. Again one of these reviews is from a geography teacher. Some have described it as too difficult for children.
A reply from the creators of the game to one of the critical comments suggests that it may be too difficult for children:
They stated “The game has been a great tool in a variety of other educational settings (from high achieving elementary school students to college and graduate students).” They even provide a sample question in their comment: “i.e. Where is the UNESCO World Heritage city Timbuktu located? A. Ethiopia B. Mali or C. Zambia.” This is more of a geography question.
I’m sure it is a great game if played a few times and you can learn some of the answers. Personally I would like to create a game that has both a fun, engaging and educational value to it which focuses fully on culture rather than geography and world leaders etc.
Explore the World
Explore the World – More of a Geography focused game rather than culture, whereas I would like my game to be focused on cultural aspects as well. It is described as a game for learning about the natural and man made world.
I am not trying to criticise anyone’s games, they are all good in their own right, but I have to analyse the potential competition as I am creating a board game myself. When considering what I would like to achieve with my board game design, I cannot really see any direct competition as my game will focus on culture and will have different elements to it as will be seen in my future blog posts.