The Bus Game
UPDATE! The Bus Game has now been released for Android on the Google Play Store. Please check it out and let me know what you think.
The Bus Game is a children’s board game of my own design.
My other half and I made a prototype (for my nephew’s birthday) by buying bits of wood off the Internet, painting them with acrylics and tester paints intended for when we finally redecorate the bedroom, then spray-varnishing them.
Players try to get the four coloured buses through the village, from one bus depot to another, before bed-time. The game is co-operative so everyone wins or loses together.
Each player takes it in turn to roll the die. Rolling a colour means the player gets to move that colour bus one stop along the road. One side of the die has all four colours on it, allowing the player to move a bus of their choice. Each bus has their own coloured route to follow and five stops on the journey home.
But watch out for traffic jams! Pairs of roads meet at a crossroads. If one bus is already on the crossroads, the other cannot move onto the same spot and the roll is wasted. Rolling the colour for a bus that is already home also means a wasted roll. Better luck next turn.
The sixth side of the die has a clock face painted on it. Rolling it means all the bus drivers stop for tea. A counter with the sun on one side and the moon on the other is moved one space along the time track – a whole two hour tea break! Bus drivers start their shift at 6am, and the game is over if it reaches 8pm before all four buses get home.
The game is meant to be simple fun and slightly educational. Kids learn about telling the time, and there is some basic strategy involved when there’s a choice over which bus to move. Should I clear a traffic jam on the crossroads or get the red bus home?
The number of bus stops on each road and the length of the time track were carefully worked out and tested with computer simulations. The chances of winning the game are about 75%, depending on your strategy. This should avoid kids getting frustrated by losing all the time, but does gently introduce the concept of losing a game. Games are also short, for easily distractable young minds.
My other half is the artistic one and gets full credit for the funky villagers and trees standing around. She had the idea of adding lots of extra pieces so that the game was also a playset. You can see her paintings at her blog, inkflamingos.com.
I have produced a computer version of the game, programmed using the free Unity Game Engine (which you’ll need to download and run it). The game, including lots of colourful 3D models and a specially arranged version of “The Wheels On The Bus” is available on the Unity Asset Store for $5. If the feedback is positive, I may upload it to the Windows or Google Play Store. If the feedback is REALLY positive, I may do a Kickstarter campaign to produce the physical game.
UPDATE! There is now a downloadable version of The Bus Game to print out and play. Read more at The Bus Game: Print out and Play.
Please let me know what you think!