Board Games: Competitive vs Cooperative

I'm feeling a general sense of frustration with competitive board games, like Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Risk, and the like. When I play these games I end up in last place, or near to last place, and I'm left with nothing to do during the game. The rest of the players continue the fun as I then sit by myself, sip a drink and ruminate over the rule book to see if there was something I could of done differently. Was it my luck? My inability to strategize? Maybe a bit of both.

Enter cooperative board games: a few years ago I played a cooperative board game called Defenders of the Realm. At first I was drawn in by this game's attention to detail, visually stunning renderings and beautifully crafted backstory setting the stage for the players. Then, I was blown away by being able to get feedback on my strategy as a newbie from other players and also coordinate my moves with other players. I was hooked, and inspired.

Ever since I learned about cooperative games as a genre, I've been itching to design my own cooperative game. About four months ago I began designing and testing it out with friends.

Stay tuned for updates as I continue development! And in the mean time, let me know what you think of competitive and cooperative games in the comments section below. What do you like about them? What do you hate about them? How well does it hold your attention throughout the course of the game?

A prototype of the game I'm working on.

What are animals thinking and feeling?

Of all the TED talks I've seen, and I've seen pretty much every single one, I found this one especially moving. Carl Safina passionately holds up a mirror to who we are and the effect we have on the animals we live with. If you have 20 minutes to watch something today, watch this.

Balance Bike: A Learning Game

Over the past several months I've been hard at work learning to develop android apps. I just published my first app on to the Google Play Store. The app is called Balance Bike: A Learning Game.

Balance Bike is an educational game for young children to learn words, letters, and numbers through touch, sound, and speaking. The app currently contains six categories: farm animals, wild animals, birds, alphabet, numbers, and colors.

Balance Bike starts up with a home screen that allows kids to pick from different categories.

Once a kid picks a category, they're presented with a wheel of pictures. Here, they can spin the wheel.

The wheel eventually stops spinning and an animal is selected. On this screen, the first sound we hear is the name of the animal. The second sound we hear is the animal's sound. Clicking on the left and right musical notes repeats the animal name and animal sound, respectively.

Underneath the picture of the animal is a third button. Pressing the microphone, the app focuses on the word, asking the child to speak what they see. At this point, speech recognition is used to see if the word is said correctly.