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Being bored with board games inspires kindergartners

By: Bonnie Krueger


Kindergartners at Raintree School have become board game connoisseurs. After searching for good tabletop games for class and coming up short, they resolved to fix the problem and make their own.

“We thought it would be so cool to be game designers, and we wanted to know how it would feel to design a game we really like to play,” explained Kassie Stanec, age 6.

At the start of their kindergarten year, students played every game they could get their hands on, ranked them and created graphs to track the features they liked and the bits they would rather not play. Then, they got to work brainstorming how to make the games better.

“It takes a lot of work and several steps,” said Luca Giammanco, age 6.  “First, you have to make a prototype. It might not be perfect, but you just keep changing it and fixing it until its right,” he explained.

Using empathy maps and surveys, the kindergartners spent the first semester of their school year conducting market research and dreaming up board game possibilities. Their prototypes went to Fantasy Game Shop in Creve Coeur for game enthusiasts to test and Edcamp STL, a conference for local educators, for St. Louis teachers to play and critique.

This March, they were told their game made it to round one of the Geekway to the West Game Design Contest. It will be featured at Protoype Alley in May for final judging at the Geekway to the West Game convention.

The students now have their sights set on a bigger goal. But to bring their board game to local kindergartens and game shops, they’ll need funding. In late March, with the help of teacher Emily Gillain, the students launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to bring their board game to St. Louis stores. The campaign ends April 28, International Tabletop Game Day.

“I hope people like it. There are lots of exciting parts to the game, like the Swamp of Death. I hope they like it enough to buy it,” dreamed Calliope Sluka, age 5.

Early cardboard prototype of ‘True Forest: the board game’ featuring horse-riding characters

Philomena and Kassie working on a container construction.

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