A game is basically a structured type of active play, often undertaken for fun or entertainment, and at times used as a teaching tool. Games are very different from work, which obviously is usually performed for monetary compensation, and from fine arts, which is usually an expression of purely aesthetic or cultural aspects. However, games can have significant educational value, as well as acting as vehicles for social interaction and creativity. Many people think of video games and computer games when the term ‘game’ is mentioned, but there are also board games, card games, trivia games, musical instruments, and even certain forms of popular entertainment such as dance.
A number of decades ago, Chris Crawford was experimenting with educational board games, and when he put together the first version of what would become Trivial Pursuit, his intention was to make something that would teach basic mathematics and logic by having the player tackle problems from an analytical perspective. He called his creation Artex, since it was supposed to resemble a ray cross-check. Chris then took this basic idea and went on to develop a series of related educational computer games over the next few years.
As he developed the board game with which we are familiar today, Chris Crawford also added a language programming device to the mix, so that the game could communicate with an array of artificial intelligence that mimicked the human brain. The result of this was that players could interact with an array of artificial intelligence programs which tried to solve each game’s problems. This, of course, lead to the game becoming much more complex, requiring players to not only think creatively but also to be able to reason rationally, in order to emerge victorious.
Not only did Chris Crawford make great strides in the development of Trivial Pursuit, he also popularized the idea of making educational board games. In fact, many of his early creations were board games that involved things like the Chinese language, the alphabet, and other things that kids learn in school. The first, Chinese Fire, is still available as a board game. He also worked on a game called Scrabble, which is still popular today. However, his biggest achievement may have been the game he called Artex, which still continues to be in print today.
Artex is probably best known for its trivia game. Basically, a player stands on a square marked with four triangular boxes. Players click on squares that they think contain a word. The first person to find all the words hidden within a 100 piece puzzle wins the game. It is interesting to note that this same game was used in the 1998 movie, A Time To Kill, in which Tom Cruise played the character of Dr. Lewis Glueck, an expert in brain surgery.
As you can see, Richard Engle has done some amazing work. His expertise with word games, his love for the board game, and his sense of humor makes him a great writer and illustrator. If you enjoy playing word games, then you should definitely consider giving Engle’s work a try. You’ll be happy you did!