For many of us, the lockdown restrictions have been a humbling reset button, forcing us to rekindle our love for hobbies new and old. Some have finally embarked on that much-delayed yoga course, others have attempted a sit-up or two, while valuable time has presented itself to finish off books that were abandoned at the roadside of life’s busy, pre-covid highway.
Paradoxically, a resurgent sense of community spirit during social distancing measures has drawn families closer than ever. If you’re lucky enough to be experiencing lockdown with loved ones, friends or perhaps just tolerated ones, Geographical’s board game selections can help you fend off the lockdown boredom in a wholesome and informative way. There’s something on the list for everybody – educational geographical games for all the family, top-trivia for youngsters, or addictive strategy games for the admittedly geek-ish – have some lockdown fun!
Conservation Crisis: Geographical’s top pick
Seven years +, 2–4 players or teams
Conservation Crisis allows all ages to learn about the challenges that accompany the protection of wildlife. Developed alongside leading experts, players take control of a wildlife reserve in crisis to save an endangered species, making critical financial, ecological, and societal decisions.
The game features elements of real-life conservation challenges: tricky financial decisions, dealing with corruption, improving human-wildlife coexistence, and even managing disease outbreaks. ‘We worked with conservationists in the eastern Congo, southern Africa, India, and Cambodia to understand the fundamental themes of Conservation Crisis,’ says Richard Milburn, director of Tunza Games, who developed Conservation Crisis.
Tunza Games uses a share of revenues to fund conservation projects around the world. Tusk, The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, The Pole Pole Foundation and The CCG Trust are all supported in their protection of national parks and endangered species.
Milburn thinks that innovative and engaging methods are needed to raise the next generation of environmentally-conscious ambassadors for the natural world: ‘Board games are a chance to get the message across to the younger generations, and to help them better understand environmental issues. Conservation Crisis carries a positive message in the protection of wildlife that young people can grow up with.’
Eight years +, 2–4 players
For the arborists, dab-handed gardeners and ecology enthusiasts, Photosynthesis is a must-have strategy board game. The objective is to harness energy from the sun to grow trees in the quest for forest dominance.
Players take trees through their full life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, while learning about the critical phases of plant development. Light is used as an essential resource of the forest, underpinning the game’s economy.
You have to use your acquired knowledge of plant biology and ecology to pick where you sow seeds (trees in the shadows are blocked from light). For such a simple concept, Photosynthesis has received rave reviews for its strategic gameplay.
Ten years +, 1–5 players
Ornithologists and nature lovers will love Wingspan – the game where you learn about the unique characteristics of the world’s bird species in an attempt to attract birds to your network of wildlife preserves.
Players work as bird researchers, ornithologists and collectors to build avian utopias through careful environmental and ecological decisions. The arrival of each unique bird species elicits positive ecological effects.
The game is beautifully designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, featuring stunning illustrations of bird species that will be a lockdown saviour for ‘twitchers’ who may currently be restricted to the avian delights of the garden.
The World Game
Six years +, 1–4 players
The World Game is a fast-hitting trivia game for geography lovers that can be played anywhere. Featuring top trivia on flags, capital cities, population statistics, and much more about all 194 countries.
Who Knows Where?
Nine years +, 2–4 players or teams
In Who Knows Where? players race against each other in a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Successfully locating famous places on the map allows you to progress on the journey. More than 1,000 questions in the categories of capitals, major cities and towns, events and facts will be more than enough to bring the family together.
If you’re shocked at the limitations of your geographical knowledge, you can adjust the rules to make it more accessible, or even ramp up the difficulty if you’re in the presence of accomplished geographers.
Eight years +, 2–4 players
If you’re looking for a game that will teach your children about environmental stewardship, Earth Opoly is the game for you. A greener alternative to everyone’s favourite, Monopoly, properties are traded for biomes; players buy reefs, deserts, cities, forests using carbon credits and renewables.