If you live in the UK, you may well have noticed the campaign being run by Cadbury that’s attempting to encourage people to get into gaming. In the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games, they’re trying many different approaches to promote the spirit of competition. There’s Facebook and Twitter campaigns, even a special chocolate bar (Spots vs Stripes, made into three chunks – two people take one bit each, then play a quick game to decide who will win the third).
They also recently launched a design competition where budding inventors could come up with a Pocketgame – basically a portable game for multiple players – that would fit into the whole Spots vs Stripes promotion. After whittling down the entries to a final two, these were sent out to a select group of people (and me, for some reason) to play, discuss, and hopefully come up with a winner. The concept behind them was simple – they must be portable, easy to explain and quick to play… after that, the sky was the limit.
The two finalists are very different, but I feel they both achieve the objective well. Egg-a-thon by Sally Manning and Flick Racer from former Little Metal Dog Show guest James Wallis (@jameswallis) are very different beasts. One cerebral, the other all about speed, they do their job remarkably… and that job is a quick injection of fun that you’d be remiss to turn down.
Egg-a-thon first then. Two players take control of two eggs each, lining them up at one end of the box (which happens to be the play board). The objective is to get both of your egg pieces to the opposite end. Rolling a dice gives you a set amount of moves (apart from when you roll a 1, meaning you miss your turn). These can be given to just one egg or split between your pieces, rolling a 4 allowing you a 3/1 or 2/2 share, for example. It’s not all about straight lines though – orthagonal movement is allowed, meaning you can move sideways on the board into the path of your opponent’s pieces. If their path is blocked they must go around you, wasting their valuable moves and hopefully giving you the chance to take victory.
Flick Racer is a simpler idea, but no less fun. Two players (though it can handle up to eight!) must take rubber discs with cars printed on one side and flick them around a race track which is drawn before the race with a stick of chalk that’s included in the pack. First one over the finish line is the winner, as you would expect in a racing game. It’s all very reminiscent of the rather fabulous PitchCar (also known as Carabande), complete with rules for collisions, coming off the track and flipping your vehicle. However, the fact you’re not limited to building with wooden pieces really adds a little something – your track can be a long or as short as you like.
Both games are made from recycled materials and a particularly lovely touch is that the car discs from Flick Racer are actually made of old tyres. I must admit that my preference falls to the racing game, simply because the only limit to making your track is how much space you have. Admittedly a piece of chalk isn’t amazingly useful when you’ve got a foot of snow outside your door, but I’m sure the more creative amongst you would be able to fashion something indoors! Egg-a-thon is a lovely idea too (and would be an ideal way to teach kids simple strategy) but I’m afraid the boy racer in me just won out…
Now, how do you fancy getting hold of these two games yourself? Well, I’m giving away my copies so you can get involved too. If you want a chance to win them, just email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Pocketgame” as your subject – no need to even answer a question! I’ll draw randomly from everyone who emails in on January 1, 2011 and send both Egg-a-thon and Flick Racer to one lucky winner. Good luck! If you want more information on the whole Spots versus Stripes campaign, have a look right here and see what you can do to get involved, or visit their Twitter feed.