Hungry HUNGRY Grad Students – A Memory Building Game

  • Hungry HUNGRY Grad Students – A Memory Building Game

     Emma Harrelson updated 1 year, 8 months ago 2 Members · 3 Posts
  • Emma Harrelson

    July 5, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Hungry HUNGRY Grad Students is my game in progress! It is a memory building game I began designing for my grandmother, who is rapidly losing her memory. Even though plenty of brain game apps have been recommended to her, she doesn’t like using the internet or any virtual platform, really. Growing up, she did play plenty of board games with us though!

    My husband and I are graduate students, and my grandmother is the only person in our family who has a PhD. So we set the theme in a university! The premise: All over campus, there are speaking engagements where free food is being given away, as long as you know where to find it. In order to gain access to the food, you need to show up to the right event location, greet the speaker by name, and compliment the speaker on their topic and food choices. If you can remember all four pieces of information, you score the food card! The winner in a competitive game is the least hungry grad student. In a solo/collaborative game, the game ends when everyone’s hunger has been satisfied.

    The game uses the Method of Loci, which helps build memory associations between concepts or things and a specific location. My grandma’s custom version of the game has personal family details, to help remind her of what her kids and grandkids are up to. But with the help of members of the BGDL group who gave us wonderful recommendation of people from history, we made a version for anyone to play.

    I just partnered with an artist to make the cards, and I’m really excited to share more as I make progress! Because I live on the opposite side of the US from my grandmother, I already designed a print and play version of the game too, which I’m excited to send to more than just my circle of 20 game loving friends.

    Thanks! More to come.

  • Tim Gee

    July 6, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    That’s so awesome you have been able to design a game for such a special and personal reason. It reminds me of how Nyctophobia was designed for a blind uncle.
    I’ve very interested in how you are able to meld a learning concept into a game. As a teacher, the majority of learning games are ‘chocolate coated broccoli’. The game is a thin veneer to trick kids into doing maths or something similar. No one would choose to play the games because they are fun.

    • Emma Harrelson

      July 7, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Hello! I didn’t know Nyctophobia was designed for her blind uncle, so thanks for sharing that bit of history. I found it really interesting!

      I completely know what you mean by “chocolate covered broccoli.” I started with a boring card matching system – flip over two cards, see if they’re a matching pair… bla bla bla. But I’ve been looking for more brain training options, beyond the pair matching and scrabbles of the world. In my research, Sagrada actually came up a few times, and that’s one I love and have had in my collection forever. That one doesn’t feel like broccoli to me. Then I came across the concept of the Method of Loci and I thought it lends itself well to a game mechanic. From there, the game sort of fell into place without too much reinventing from me. It’s the first time I felt like I didn’t need to “work with” or “fix” the game to make it work. It’s simple to learn, and it replays well, and it helps build a habit of memory associations that should improve memory overall (or at least it seems to be doing some good for my grandma!)

      I guess what I’m going for is a piece of chocolate that happens to be shaped like broccoli. It’s mostly a fun game, that happens to have something that’s useful it can teach you. Maybe the trick is simply designing a game, and once it’s fun, seeing if it can be a vehicle for something useful?

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