Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 37 – Teaching Kids How to Design a Board Game
As will hopefully not come as a surprise to listeners, Withstand the Fury is — in addition to running the Ultima Codex — also quite involved with Scouts Canada, and in fact has been a member of the Scouting movement since the tender age of five (he first joined Beaver Scouts around twenty-nine years ago, and remained a member of the movement until the age of twenty-six, whereupon he aged out as a Rover Scout). Since leaving the youth membership of the Scouting movement, he has taken on a new role within it: that of a leader to the Beaver Scout group that two of his daughters are members of.
He also runs a Scouting-focused podcast, which may be of interest to some of you.
Scouts Canada places a lot of emphasis on youth leadership, even at the Beaver Scout level. Of course, kids between the ages of five and seven do require a lot more direct guidance from the adult leadership of the group, but where possible they are still given the opportunity to lead, which includes suggesting meeting topics and events for the group to undertake. And, indeed, the suggestion that the Beaver Scouts should design their own board game came from one of the youth.
Of course, not having much idea how to teach young children the basics of game design, Withstand the Fury did the first thing that came to mind: he emailed someone who did know a thing or two about game design. Ian Frazier, who (as noted above) led the Ultima V: Lazarus project (a remake of Ultima 5 using the Dungeon Siege engine), also worked as the combat designer — and later lead designer — for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. He is currently the lead designer for Mass Effect: Andromeda, and works out of BioWare’s Montreal office.
Of course, Montreal and Edmonton are rather far apart (3,580 km, by road, or about 38 hours of driving), so Ian himself wouldn’t be putting in an appearance. But, he did manage to find three volunteers from BioWare’s Edmonton office who had experience with board game design, and who had the time and inclination to volunteer to discuss same with a room full of young, boisterous children. Or, rather two rooms full of children; Withstand the Fury oversees two different Beaver Scout groups, one that meets on Mondays and another that meets on Tuesdays.
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