‘Nobel Run’: the Spanish board game that puts you in the shoes of a scientist fighting with papers to win the Nobel
“Having a successful scientific life is difficult, but exciting. There will be many complications along the way, but if you surround yourself with capable colleagues, fight for competitive projects and manage to publish scientific articles in prestigious journals, achieving the Nobel Prize is not a utopia… Well, it really is, because a lot of people have run out of it even deserving it“.
With those words he explains to us Pablo Garaizar, professor at the University of Deusto, what is your new board game, ‘Nobel Run’. If you like board games related to science and technology, surely its name is familiar to you, since Garaizar is the creator of ‘Moon‘ Y ‘Nand Archers‘. ‘Nobel Run’, however, moves away from computing and enters the peculiar world of science. The objective? Teach us that getting a Nobel Prize is not a utopia, albeit half.
A game of cards and decks to win the Nobel Prize
‘Nobel Run’ is a deck-building game.. The player begins with a few simple cards: four for work, one for research, a predoc (doctoral student), and a small local project. Each card offers us resources and points that we will have to use to improve the deck, or what is the same in ‘Nobel Run’, to get published scientific articles, larger projects and hire more qualified personnel. All this will give us prestige points. If we reach 20 points, we win the Nobel Prize and we win the game.
These are the most basic aspects of the game, which then gets more complicated. The rest of the players, up to four, can have negative effects on us that will make it difficult for us to reach our goal. As Garaizar explains, “the game represents the career of someone who has just started in the scientific world.” Its mechanics, as we can see, are not particularly complex, but “it requires a bit of strategy, that’s why we have set the minimum age in 10 years“.
The game has been created by the aforementioned Garaizar, Lorraine Fernandez e Iñigo Master. The idea comes from Lorena Fernández, director of communication at the University of Deusto, within the European Gearing Roles project, Garaizar tells us.
“One of the objectives of this project is to question and transform gender roles in professional careers, so Lorena proposed that we develop a game where top-level female scientists and inventors are made visible to make their work visible and serve as references. From that initial idea, we developed many prototypes until we came up with a mechanic that represented what we wanted to have in the game.
The game is full of actual terminology, such as predocs, postdocs, seniors, Q1 articles, etc., something that initially clashes a bit with a game focused on the younger audience. In the words of its creator, “we wanted to make a game as realistic as possible within its limitations, that’s why we used the real terminology. It is very cool when you can tell a family member or friend that you have been awarded a European project or published an article Q1 and he knows the effort it takes thanks to the game. “
In addition to the cards that allow us to earn points in the game, such as Q1 Open Access articles (which are worth more than Q4 articles, for example) or international projects (more valuable than local ones), the game puts us in situations “daily activities within the career of a researcher such as that of loss of data, imposter syndrome, or care of a dependent person“These are the negative effects that we talked about previously and that will make it more difficult for us to win the game.
In addition to educating the player in the terminology of the scientific world, ‘Nobel Run’ also highlights the role of women in science. Garaizar gives us some examples:
“Mary Somerville, the mentor of Ada LovelaceIt will give us extra effort because there is nothing more valuable than a good mentor, but other letters can have negative effects like the one from Jocelyn Bell, who did not receive the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics despite actively working on those discoveries. “
Other scientists who will make an appearance are Sally Kristen Ride (NASA physicist and astronaut) and Donna Strickland (third woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in Physics after Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert-Mayer), among others. Total hay 21 scientists and inventors that will help us win the game.
It is, without a doubt, a board game of the most interesting that will be available for free at print & play and in a patronage format on KickStarter for the physical edition. Why release it for free? Faced with this question, Garaizar replied that “the experience releasing the games we previously developed as print & play has been very positive.”
He assures that “on the one hand, many more people can learn about the game and enjoy it in places that our distribution networks do not reach. However, he affirms that “printing it at home is not profitable at all if it is available in stores, but having the game available in digital version gives peace of mind to those who want to know it without buying it. “In general, we believe that has a very positive effect on both sales and the spread of the game“, concludes the professor.