Got a budding inventor in your house?
Brought to you by the folks who make Rory’s Story Cubes, The Extraordinaires Design Studio is a fantastic game that will get you and your kids inventing, thinking of original solutions to problems. The idea of the game is that you choose a type of person, such as a giant, ninja, or fairy, and an item to design for that person, such as a chair, a gift, or a source of light. Then on the special paper, you design the object. What special considerations do you need to make for your Extraordinaire? Do they have particularly special needs? How can you be original? You can get help from some special Think cards that help you generate ideas, and also use additional images on the Extraordinaire cards themselves for inspiration. Take all the time that you need. Then when everyone is done designing, each player presents their idea to the group. Finally, players each give awards to the most inventive designs.
Depending on your experience with the game and the maturity of the players, you can choose to play with level 1, 2, and/or 3 cards, and use the Think cards if you choose. Check out the promo video:
The Extraordinaires Design Studio can be played as a multi-player or single-player game. It’s fun as both, to which my family can attest. But despite the game not having winners and losers, some kids (such as my son) might get bent out of shape if they don’t receive any awards at the end of the game. This can be frustrating, but it is also an opportunity to teach a lesson about giving awards rather than feeling the need to receive them. I really enjoy playing the game by myself, too, because I can take my time designing, and try out some weird designs without anyone watching. Such are the preferences of an introvert!
There are over 200 design combinations, by mixing up the Extraordinaires and the objects, and there are three levels each of Extraordinaire and object cards. Designed for kids eight and up, adults will get just as much out of it. This makes it a great activity to play with your kids. The game takes about 20 minutes but can take more, depending on how much time you take to design and discuss your inventions. The instructions are very clear with visual aids, and encompass single player, multi-player, and product design challenge rules.
The game comes in a very nice case that had some real thought put into it. It’s hard plastic, easy to carry with you, and it closes with a really cool magnetic closure. Each spot inside has little cutouts for your fingers to get out the decks of cards, and the paper sits on top of everything.
This game is incredibly portable, since everything is securely held inside the case. It’s great to bring on trips or to parties or over to your parents’ house on holiday weekends. Also, if you play by yourself, you can put your chosen cards inside the top of the case, since there are spots for one of each of the card sizes.
The game comes with:
- Magnetic closure carrying case
- Pad of paper for designing
- Pen (but I prefer to use a pencil)
- Extraordinaires cards (the characters for whom you design the inventions)
- Object cards
- Think cards (Design, Improve, and Research cards)
- Award cards
- Instructions (if you look closely, I’m listed in the credits under “Playtesters”!)
There are so many reasons why I feel that this game is fantastic. It is incredibly educational. Getting kids (and adults) to come up with brand new inventions for off-the-wall needs really gets them to think creatively and solve problems that they’ve never considered. It fosters discussion among the players, since they could ask for advice, or comment on others’ inventions. Plus, players will inevitably be inspired by the other designs, perhaps giving them more ideas for future inventions.
Once you’ve played it a few times, you might want to share your inventions on The Extraordinaires website. There, in the gallery, you can see what others have come up with and post your own inventions. Soon you will also be able to submit your inventions via the upcoming Extraordinaires Uploader App, which will allow you to capture, annotate, and share your creations.
The Extraordinaires Design Studio is not a conventional game, and it’s not really a cooperative game, either, since each person is designing their own thing. It’s more of a learning exercise, but it’s great to play with others, especially multi-generationally. Additionally, with the basic parts of the game, you could use them to invent your own activities, such as designing a product as a group, and even making a prototype. My daughter (age 11) really loved the game because she is an inventor by nature. My son (age 8) liked it pretty well, but got upset when he didn’t get an award like everyone else. Still, he really enjoyed being creative and inventing something new.
The Extraordinaires Design Studio will be available in stores very soon, but is already available to pre-order. You can visit The Creativity Hub‘s website, and also very soon, Marbles will be carrying the game in the US. It will cost about $45. Keep checking the Marbles website for it to arrive in stock.
I recommend this game to homeschooling families, and people of all ages that love to invent or be creative. And while it isn’t a true game in my opinion, it’s a fantastic learning experience that can be shared or done alone. In any case, it’s fun and very well done.
Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.