Guest post by the fabulous Jill Katzenberger
Are you looking for more ways to keep your family edu-tained through quarantine?
Well, look no further. It is with great excitement and minor trepidation that we announce the laborious fruits of our playtime, Paths and Predicaments in the Kingdom of Quandary. This collaborative game is brought to you by Ryan Madson, Leo Borasio, and me (Jill Katzenberger). We are the Boulder-based non-profit, Junkyard Social Club, and Paths and Predicaments is just what you need to get your family across the social distance. Puzzle your way through the paths that lie before you. Express your creativity, challenge your resourcefulness, and reinvent your experience each time you play.
While I may not self-identify as a hardcore “gamer”, I have always had a geeky love for games and puzzles. This love, and our penchant for strategic and creative thinking, drove the Junkyard team head first into the world of original board game design. Our goal: to orchestrate playful opportunities that encourage families to foster strong bonds through collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
The first step to develop our original Junkyard gaming experience was to play-test as many games as we could get our meeple-loving hands-on…at work and at home…with family and friends. While on this mission, and in the name of research, I also took it upon myself to spread my love of games to my 6-year-old son. He was mentally ready and I was emotionally ready. My husband and I used to play games regularly, but when we expanded from DINKs with a dog to the complete nuclear family, games were superseded by stacking rings and cups. As legos began replacing baby toys, we got a glimpse of leisure time that once again resembled (almost) mutual play. It was like a dim light at the end of a BPA free tunnel, one that could lead us back to game night.
Fostering my son’s love of games took some time – some carefully carved out and curated time with a commitment to keeping his toddler sister from going all Godzilla on the gameboard. Initially, the nostalgic side of me wanted to introduce him to the games of my childhood like Candyland, Chutes and ladders, and Life.
I learned something. As an adult, these games are mind-numbingly lame. I don’t think Milton Bradley ever played with obsessive kids (over and over and over again).
These games require zero strategy. There’s little incentive to “try.” In fact, there’s really no logical way to. They’re all chance, no thought, and if you really want to win, you figure out how to cheat. The game pieces are cheap choking hazards and at best they prepare your kid to understand the concept of a lottery ticket.
Luckily, there is a world of family-friendly games beyond the big-box store toy aisle. We fell in love with collaborative games that encourage you to work together, to celebrate your successes and commiserate in your losses. We were also drawn to games with creative narratives that immerse you in a story where YOU are the main character. Even better… were games with clever mechanisms that level the playing field so that while you might have decades of gaming wisdom, compared to your kid, the tables can suddenly turn and force you to rethink your next move.
Each of these concepts informed the development of Paths and Predicaments. We found ourselves repeatedly inspired and reminded of the beauty and ingenuity of well-designed rules (and instructions). We also learned that while quality games for families DO exist, there’s definitely room for more experiences that bring groups together by engaging the mind AND the body. Paths and Predicaments is a fast-paced, collaborative game that will challenge you to apply MacGyver- like resourcefulness and Unicorn-level creativity in order to survive a wicked wonderland. Each time you play, the game can be different: a new board, new challenges, new resources, and even a new playing field.
Purchase the files to print your own copy of the game today. Let us know about your experiences: what worked, what didn’t, what we spelled wrong.