Can a card game teach us about MDNA and improve cognitive brain function in children? We’re going to give it a shot.
I’ve been developing a card game with my two sons over the holidays. I wanted a way to spend time with the boys introducing brain development which didn’t involve video games. After doing a little research, I quickly prototyped a deck and we began testing. Getting feedback from a 7 and 10 year old is easy. They either have fun and stay engaged, or they don’t. What you see is what you get.
The first handmade prototype deck was definitely rudimentary but served its purpose.
I called the game Plastic City, which is a riff on brain “plasticity”. The goal is to introduce children ages 5 and up to simple math, pattern recognition and improve working memory. The deck is pretty simple and designed for maximum play-testing flexibility. So far, we’ve come up with about 5-6 games that are worthy of continual play.
A Game for the UCD (Unyielding Conviction & Design)
Anything I have the initial vision for and create is imprinted with my MDNA gift. I am a primary UCD. Knowing this, I can focus on maximizing how much my Motivational Value System can shape the game. Creating the game becomes intrinsically motivating to me because it reflects my own purpose, passions and potential. This is one of the key secrets to launching new projects and sticking with them.
There are multiple parallels between Plastic City and the UCD gift. My objective is to teach children how to learn the principles of the UCD while having fun and family time together. You don’t have to be a UCD to learn these skills and shape your brain in positive ways.
The UCD is intrinsically motivated to embrace chaos and create order. The UCD has the ability to move from nothing and create something right from scratch. In the same way, Plastic City challenges kids to take random cards, recognize patterns and organize a strategy. The UCD loves strategy and patterns.
As children get older, their ability to think strategically and working memory should expand. The game is designed to scale to this increased capacity. I believe as my boys get older they will learn more while enjoying relational time together. But another bonus is discussing concepts such as problem solving, sportsmanship and persevering through an unlucky hand. We’ve had some great conversations in their moments of frustration. Their confidence soars when they are able to beat daddy. And like all good games, anybody can win at Plastic City no matter how old the competition is.
Ready to Expand Play-Testing
After a few weeks, I felt confident enough to formalize an actual prototype for the next level. (For a split second I thought of making every deck by hand and sell them on Etsy, but then realized I was being crazy.) Cards were designed and I found an on-demand printer of card games to create a one-off. My first deck order is on its way.
The UCD’s core competence and Brand Culture is Innovative Paradigms. The next step is to introduce an innovative paradigm of brain training games for kids to other parents and gather more feedback. If this paradigm sticks, then we’ll go to the next level. The game will be open source and I will invite other parents, teachers and kids to contribute to its development.
If we do officially publish the game for commercial sale, I am considering doing a Kickstarter with a TOMS Shoes model of sell-one-give-one-away. I think about how simple it could be to help an entire generation of children, especially vulnerable ones, through fun and spending time with family. This innovative paradigm is based upon my own unyielding conviction that if we understand our designs, we can truly make a difference in the world.
I know a card game can’t do it all, but it could be the first step. And that is all the UCD really needs to do–be willing to take that first step from nothing to something. Then the other MDNA gifts can do their part.
I’ll keep posting updates as they come.