10. June 2017 · Comments Off on BLOG, June 10, 2017 · Categories: Blog

Some time ago, I designed a board game I called “Genre.” I made a prototype and had several groups of people play it; they all liked it and wanted to play it again. I was encouraged to try to get it published, but after months of trying to contact game designer companies, I was convinced the only way to sell it would be to attend a Game Convention in Berlin, or spend a fortune making a true prototype and publishing it myself.  As I was unable to afford to do either of those things, the game pretty much fazed out. I still have the initial prototype, but I’d made the board out of Styrofoam and it also fazed out eventually.

But after that, I found myself thinking about designing games, and my son and I came up with several possibilities. We never really went any further, but I stumbled across the games just now when looking for something to post on my blog.  So here is one of those games. If anyone wants to take on the job of further designing and/or manufacturing, or even selling one of them, feel free; it would be nice to have either a small percentage of anything you sell it for, or at least my name in the credits.


Up to 4 players, ages 8 to adult.

The board is a “replica” of a U.S. map, and there are squares within each state – only two squares in Rhode Island, but as many as 10 (or more) in Alaska. Half of the squares are Challenges and half are Obstacles. Each player starts at a different corner of the map – one die is rolled, and the player with the lowest number starts in Vermont, the player with the next highest number starts in Florida, then in Hawaii, and the player with the highest number starts in Alaska. (Or player number one selects which corner he wants to start in, player number two gets second choice, etc.)

Players roll the dice and travel around each state, landing on a Challenge or an Obstacle square, with a tiny vehicle as their token (e.g., a sedan or SUV, a motorcycle, a van, a skateboard or hover board, a surfboard, an RV).  Players earn points by guessing, or knowing, answers to specific categories of questions (e.g., a player lands on New Mexico and the question is “What’s the population?  Choices: 20 thousand, 2 million, 20 million.”)  Points are awarded based on correctness or, if not correct, the closest guess; so if there are three choices, the correct one gets 5 points, the closest incorrect answer gets 3 points, and the wrong answer gets 1 point.

Each “state” might depict a collage of features of that state (e.g., for California a Pacific Ocean beach, a movie scene, a field of poppies, etc.; for Texas, a Dallas cityscape, a Texas Ranger, a desert scene, etc.). Another area of questions might involve methods of transportation possible between states (e.g., ship or boat, jet or prop airplane, car, truck, motorcycle, etc.).

Challenge categories might include:  State Population, Date Admitted to Union, Claim to Fame, Top Export, Capital City, etc. Obstacles might include:  “Vehicle breaks down,” “The kids need a rest stop,” “A cop gives you a ticket,” etc.  Each Obstacle subtracts points, each Challenge adds points.

Make sure the game has as few pieces as possible.  It could have a relatively soft board that folds and opens big enough so players can move on proportionately sized states, and can kneel or sit on the “board.”  Challenge cards might have to be rethought – five challenge cards for each state adds up to 250 cards; conversely, if there’s only one card for each category, it would need answers for each of 50 states.

About the author: Harriet Darling

A 75-year-old retired Executive Assistant and Research Editor, I live in Lodi, California, and transport foster kids to family visits and court appearances. I have a son, who is married to Cathy, and they live in Sacramento with Sheldon, their cat, and Penny, their dog. No children, so no grandchildren for me.

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