It’s obvious – at some point I’ve tried to design a game too. I was just five years old when that happened. It is a beautiful story I like to reminisce about. Actually, the game still exists, which is why I have the wonderful opportunity to document this blog posting directly with the game map from back then. Below, I will tell you the story of my first game – an insight into the world of a five-year-old who was sure he had made it big!
The Story of the Game
… is something I would never have given away at that time! It seemed so red hot to me that, after each revision, in strict observance of safety precautions, I locked it away in my secret closet, next to my chewy candies and my savings in the amount of 6.50 German Marks (a rough estimate). But I think that now, after almost 20 years, I can disclose the secret. So, once again …
Three or four players are playing the role of Kuni of Kuniburg. Four players playing the same character wasn’t something I regarded as problematic then. Thanks to cloning, a couple of years later Dolly the sheep would be in the making anyway.
The objective of the Kuni clones was to save a damsel.
“Not so bad, that story,” I thought to myself. “But there’s more to it!” And so the 3-4 Kunis were also given the task to collect as much gold as possible along the way and eventually find a treasure.
“What a stroke of genius!” I thought and rubbed my hands with delight. “Now the storyline is done!” I felt more than satisfied. Knights and the whole topic of “Middle Ages” were a top issue for me and, in my view, equally attractive for the rest of the world.
The Game Mechanism
Now it got down to the nitty-gritty – the game mechanics. In an issue of the Mickey Mouse comic book series, a game had been presented once where the players roll the dice, move their meeples, and face all kinds of odds, such as “Goofy got stuck in the sink with his long nose while he was brushing his teeth. Now the plumber must come for help. You lose one turn.”
The first one to reach the finish wins the game. Common knowledge.
My game was to revolutionize all conventional rules! So I opted for a 3-sided die instead of a 6-sided one.
“That’s quite something for a start,” I thought while I was sitting in my room, probably hunched over in a position similar to “The Thinker” by Rodin. I knew, however, that this alone wasn’t enough. Therefore, I developed the “Kuni coins,” which allowed the players to skip a field. I was quite certain to have discovered a game element without precedent – at least it hadn’t occurred to the game designers of the Mickey Mouse comic book.
I labeled the special event fields with symbols. For example, the Kunis could periodically stumble over shrubs and roots, which caused the player to lose a turn. Players who lost their coins had to go back three fields.
All things considered, the players arrived at the top of the castle with 2-3 Kuni coins in their pockets. Even in those days, one wouldn’t have been able to buy more than a tin bedpan for it.
“Now there’s only one problem left – who’s gonna write the game rules for me?” Before I reached school age, my brother had already taught me some letters, but my accuracy on a typewriter strongly reminded of throwing darts after having ingested 8 cans of beer. So I finally decided to ask my brother. However, I made it clear from the start that profit sharing with him was not an option for me. His docile and cheerful acceptance looked extremely suspicious to me at the time.
Lastly, I put my 4 plastic Kuni meeples, the paper Kuni coins, my brother’s game rules, and the hand-drawn, DIN A4-format game map into an oversized package (the game components would have fit in it 50 times) – and my creation was accomplished! By the way, it was called “Find the Treasure and Get Rich!” Quite witty, wasn’t it? I guess “Save the Damsel, Look for as Much Gold as Possible Along the Way, and Find the Treasure!” was simply too long for me, notwithstanding the package’s size.
Now I only had to somehow launch the game. So I tucked the box of almost my own size under my arm and went to my father. Had there been PowerPoint at that time, my presentation would certainly have taken a slightly more professional course. Given the situation, however, we restricted ourselves to a test game.
After about 2 turns, I already asked him if he was going to take it to an editorial, and what chances he was seeing for the game. I vaguely remember him mumbling something about an ice cream in the refrigerator. When I kept insisting, he said that he recalled already having seen a similar thing somewhere else, but that the approach was really good. With a little bit of editing, one could probably find a slot for it someday. I was actually quite pleased with that! Since then, I haven’t received any updates though …
Now that I think about it – it’s a good moment to go and ask!