Not many 7-year-olds can say they’ve invented a real-life board game, but Franklin Wright did that and won a $10,000 savings bond for college, a $200 Toys"R"Us gift card, and a trip to San Francisco in the 2013 National Young Game Inventors contest. Even more exciting, Wright’s Conveyor Belt, a game of strategy and luck, will hit the shelves all across the United States in 2014.
Parent & Child: Tell us about how your game works.
Franklin Wright: Conveyor Belt is a game of strategy and luck for 2 to 4 players. The game consists of the Conveyor Belt game board, 13 Belt cards, four tokens, and one die. The game board looks like a checkerboard with arrows on each square. The arrows indicate the direction the player can move. Each square has one to four arrows on it. The START is in the upper left corner and the FINISH is in the lower right corner.
At the beginning of the game all of the players draw three Belt cards. The Belt cards are the same size as the squares on the board. Some of the Belt cards have arrows and others have text, such as “Lose Next Turn.” There is even one that says, “FINISH.” Players can play one Belt card at the end of each turn, until they run out of them. The first person to land on a FINISH square, by exact count, wins.
P&C: How did you come up with the idea?
FW: I like playing a card game called Fluxx. In Fluxx, the rules and the objective of the game are constantly changing. So that made me think it would be fun to make a board game where the board was constantly changing. In Conveyor Belt each game is different based on where the various Belt cards are played.
P&C: After you thought of the idea, what was the next step you took?
FW: I got a pad of graph paper from my mother and started working on a prototype. The blue lines on the graph paper helped me draw the grid for my game. After I played the game on the graph paper a few times and decided it was fun, my mom went to the craft store for some foam board.
P&C: What was the most difficult part of the game-designing process?
FW: The hardest part of the process was making the straight lines on the foam board.
P&C: What was your favorite part?
FW: My favorite part was playing the game with my friends and family and tweaking it to make it harder.
P&C: Had you designed any board games or toys before?
FW: Yes — I love to design board games. Last year my mother gave me a collection of blank boards, dice, game pieces, blank cards, and play money that she called “Franklin’s Fun Factory.” I have created dozens of games using my fun factory.
I also enjoy creating games on the computer. I use the Kodu Game Lab, Kodugamelab.com, to write games that I play on my computer. I use the MIT App Inventor website, Appinventor.mit.edu, to write Android games.
P&C: What are your hobbies?
FW: My favorite hobby is making games and then playing them. I also enjoy swimming, cub scouts, and playing with my kitten named Max.
P&C: What is your favorite subject in school?
FW: My favorite subject is writing, because I like to make up stories and draw pictures.
P&C: What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you see game designing in your future?
FW: I want to be a game designer.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
FW: I like to travel; I have been to 20 states and 8 countries.
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