BioWare Helps Kids Design Board Games

Published: June 9, 2016 6:47 PM /


Beaver Scouts (The Scout Association).svg

A group of kids in Canada got a hands-on game design workshop from BioWare developers in Edmonton. Two groups of lucky Beaver Scouts with an ambitious Scout Leader reached out to BioWare for help in designing some board games around February. Their efforts paid off and not only did members of BioWare’s Mass Effect Andromeda team come help them out personally, they got their games manufactured so that they can all play them at home with their families.

Many people have probably made some poster board and marker “board games” in grade school as part of a literature teacher’s attempts at tricking children into reading comprehension. Yet not very often do you hear educators using game design as a tool for helping children apply logic and critical thinking skills. Withstand the Fury runs the Ultima Codex and is a Beaver Scout leader for Scouts Canada who went above and beyond in bringing a unique and enriching experience to some children that can now call themselves game designers.

Withstand the Fury is a father of two and a Beaver Scout leader to two of his local troops ages 5-7. The idea to have the kids design a game came from one of the scouts while trying to think of activities for the children to do during the winter months. And with the idea hatched their Scout Leader pulled out all the stops to make that happen.

Find the Earth
Find the Earth is a Candy Land-esque board game designed by Withstand the Fury from Ultima Codex's Beaver Scouts.

The scout leader reached out to his contact at BioWare Montreal (Ian Frazier, project lead for Ultima V: Lazarus) who connected him with some developers from BioWare Edmonton. Chris Corfe, Brad Paras, and Jos Hendriks came out to meet with the children and helped them come up with some game mechanics for their very own original board game. The children came up with the premises for the games on their own and styled the games after some classic board games the group was familiar with.  

One group came up with an interesting twist on Candy Land called Find the Earth, in which players are lost in space and have to traverse a spiral-shaped galaxy to get back home. The other group was inspired by Chutes and Ladders and has slightly more complicated mechanics. Originally themed after Star Wars in which players would need to collect and battle each other for lightsabers, licensing required the theme be changed to beavers collecting sticks to build a dam and it’s now titled Build the Dam, fitting for Beaver Scouts.

Build the Dam
Play as a beaver trying to build a dam in Beaver Scout designed game Build the Dam.

After the folks from BioWare helped these scouts design some unique board games, scout leader Withstand the Fury had the games manufactured. Using Gimp to design graphics from Pixabay the children’s games were given a more polished look. Then a small batch of games were printed by You can read Withstand the Fury’s post on creating the board game’s with his Beaver Scouts here on the Ultima Codex.

The shiny new board games were delivered in April and some of the children involved personally delivered the finished products to the guys at BioWare come May, complete with adorable handmade cards. Jos Hendriks tweetedA group of beaver scouts of Canada just made my day.”

Thanks to Scouting Stuff for sharing this with us!

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Alexandra Joy Taberski
| Past Author

Alexandria is a former Staff Writer at TechRaptor, who specializes in coverage of mobile games, RPGs, and JRPGs primarily, and has an unfortunate aversion… More about Alexandria