By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)
Three brothers of the Beta Chi Chapter at Stanford might be on the verge of creating the next big board game. It’s not based on how much wood you have to buy, how many hotels to put on a property, or what word will give you double points. Instead it’s a game that’s focused on something we are all very familiar with: a US Presidential election.
Soon-to-be graduates Eric Iwashita, Max Kohrman, and Eric Hallett – all candidate brothers from the same class – developed the idea as part of the capstone project for their product design class. Their inspiration? Playing board games with fellow members of the chapter at the chapter house. And so began a 27 week project that now finds itself coming to fruition.
The game is titled The Campaign: A Seriously Absurd Political Board Game. In the game 4-6 players first divide as evenly as possible into two teams, Republicans and Democrats. Throughout the game the players draw and play cards as well as spend money in their attempt to garner the electoral votes needed to win the election. The cards include mini-games like the “Speech” card where a player has to give a 30-second speech on key topics like why the U.S. should annex Canada or why cheese should be banned from public schools. There’s also the “Filibuster” card that skips a player’s turn. The game is novel in that each player is not just trying to win the presidential election themselves but also ensure that their team wins the election.
He attributes much of the game’s current look and feel to those test games played by chapter members with many providing input, feedback, and different perspectives to the game designers that helped them round out the game to appeal to a wider audience.
The title alone is a good indicator that this isn’t a game where you take yourself or the political process too seriously and is filled with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Iwashita says political cartoons were an influence in designing the game’s humor, as was the popular game Cards Against Humanity where political correctness is almost forbidden.
Throughout the design process Iwashita, Kohrman, and Hallett relied heavily on their fellow chapter members as test subjects for the game. Iwashita says they went through 11-12 versions of the game until they settled on the final product. He attributes much of the game’s current look and feel to those test games played by chapter members with many providing input, feedback, and different perspectives to the game designers that helped them round out the game to appeal to a wider audience.
The three men now find themselves close to not only graduation but also the final presentation of their project on June 2, which is fitting since they will also be launching their game on Kickstarter the same day. The group is looking to raise about $25,000 to cover costs for initial manufacturing as well as filling rewards orders through Kickstarter. A $35 donation will earn a copy of the game for the first 50 donors, with additional perks for lower tier donation levels.
The 2016 presidential election might be 500+ days away but, it’s never too early to get your “House of Cards” fix in the form of a good-natured board game.