Brandywine Street resident Jackie Dobranski was fed up with the blatant disregard for ethics she saw reported in the news every day. She was inspired to channel that negative energy into positive change.
After a year of research, development, play-testing, and revising, her new board game, Brixiples™, was born.
As a mom, veterinarian, board member of the Humane Rescue Alliance, and school volunteer, Dobranski suddenly found herself wearing the hat of game designer and small business owner.
She launched her Kickstarter campaign this month with the hope of funding the project and creating awareness. Here’s what she told us about it:
FHC: Tell me about your new board game, Brixiples™.
Dobranski: Brixiples™ is a totally unique educational board game for two to four players, designed to teach children ages 7 to 12 about ethics, safety, and common Sense and Courtesy. I call it the game where good judgment builds community. There are 200 question cards in four categories, with both a cooperative and competitive aspect. Players move around the board answering questions and donating bricks to the Community Center construction zone and hearts to the Food Bank and Animal Shelter. An adult called the Sage creates an inclusive and safe environment. The Sage ensures the players come to healthy conclusions and keeps the discussions on track.
There is such an incredible combination of laughter and seriousness going on during a game – parents are often blown away by their kids’ answers. They are surprised by their children’s lack of knowledge and judgment on some questions, and delighted by their mature and thoughtful responses to others. There’s role playing and lots of silly actions to really engage the players. It’s perfect for home, schools, ethical societies, religious organizations, clubs, camps – you name it.
What topics do the cards cover?
A very wide spectrum! There are five core ethical values common across cultures. I based all of the Ethics cards and many of the Common Sense and Courtesy Cards on these values to keep them relevant. Topics include bullying, academic integrity, peer pressure, same sex parents, racial and religious inclusivity, behavior toward people with disabilities, respect for the environment, animal care and much more.
The Safety cards cover inappropriate or unwelcome touch, tricky people, fire, doorbell and phone safety, internet safety, pet/wildlife safety, gun safety, the difference between tattling and telling an adult about a safety issue, and more. Common Sense and Courtesy covers manners, what to do when you lose money or find it, how to greet new neighbors, how to befriend children with disabilities, and more. Wild Card gives an opportunity to change up the questions format, and invent long apologies – something kids have a hard time with in real life!
How did you come up with the basic concept?
I became increasingly sickened by news reports where ethics were completely disregarded. We heard about political campaign lies, pharmaceutical price gouging, racial profiling, animal abuse and neglect, the car emissions scandal, banking scandals, discrimination and on and on. When I became a veterinarian I felt a responsibility to uphold high ethical standards to be worthy of the title. I really struggled with the bad behavior out there from government to corporations to individuals.
I felt I needed to channel that negative energy into positive change, to create a forum for ethical learning in children that really engaged them and got them thinking, feeling and sharing.
How did safety become part of the game?
I had not been able to discuss any safety issues with my 7-year-old son, such as strangers and cars, because he would literally put his hands over his ears. He did not want to hear about dangers – it was too scary. I made a list of every safety issue I wanted to talk to him about, and after a great deal more research developed the Safety category of questions. The game provides a comfortable and safe place to discuss these issues with peers and an adult.
Have you tested the game with diverse groups?
Yes! I’ve done many play testing sessions, at home and in my son’s school. The school has a diversity mission – racial, cultural and economic. The kids all loved the game! The first time they played for almost two hours, just because they didn’t want to stop. They seemed to crave a forum for discussing these confusing ideas and feelings. This transcends race and economics. The game is perfect for home, schools, ethical societies, religious organizations, clubs, camps, counseling – you name it.
Did you get some good advice from children?
Absolutely! With each play testing I made changes. They spontaneously jumped up and began role playing, so I added role playing into many of the questions. They told me which questions were their favorites and why, and which weren’t that useful. They loved the questions that called for silly actions like pretending to be a cat with a hair ball.
I rewrote many of the questions to include silly actions to keep the kids engaged and provide some relief from the heavy topics. I gave a talk and PowerPoint presentation at Lowell School and got tremendously enthusiastic feedback. The head of the school shouted, “We NEED this!”
Did you consult with any child development professionals?
Yes! I read countless books and respected websites on ethical development in children and teaching safety. I consulted with the head of my son’s school, the clinical psychologist, and the diversity director. They have all endorsed the game and their comments appear on my website, Brixiples.com.
Where can people purchase Brixiples™?
I’m about to launch a Kickstarter campaign in order to cover my costs and begin printing! [Ed. note: The Kickstarter has launched and you can check it out here.] You can get a game for the special price of $29 during the campaign, or $49 for two. After the campaign the price will increase, and I’ll take orders through my website. I’m hoping to deliver games by December 2017. Follow my Facebook page @Brixiples and join my mailing list on my website.