January 18, 2017

I discovered the game “Monsters in the Elevator” when a friend shared it on his Facebook feed. According to its page on Indiegogo, it was created by a guy who teaches about games, with help from his daughter, and is a finalist in a Hasbro Gaming Lab contest.

There are a number of things I like about this game. First, it’s great that the inventor involved his daughter in the development of the game. Beyond just play testing it, apparently she contributed to both the game play and the art, and even created the Advanced Play mode.

Second, it involves cute monsters. Who doesn’t like cute monsters? Also, it’s quick to learn and doesn’t take forever to play (5 to 20 minutes, according to the Indiegogo page).

But there are two things in particular that I like about this game, and which distinguish it from other games.

First, it involves math. Every monster in the game has an assigned weight, and they all want to use the elevator. If the combined weight of all the monsters in the elevator is too high, the elevator crashes and the game is over. So, it’s important to be able to add up the weight of the monsters already in the elevator, and to consider the weight of any monsters you’re thinking of adding, before you make a move. With schools in the United States lagging behind in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), any game that makes math fun sounds like a good idea to me.

More than that, it’s a cooperative game. Instead of being just another game in which one player wins and all the other players lose, in this game either the weight of the monsters in the elevator is too much, causing it to crash and thereby everyone loses, or they players are able to manage the combined weight of the monsters in the elevator successfully, keeping it low enough that the elevator is able to make it to the top floor, and everyone wins.

Not only does the game make math fun as it builds on math skills, it also eschews the model of “I win when you all lose” in favor of encouraging players to work together toward a common goal. This is a value we ought to be encouraging in kids, and is one that will serve them well in many walks of life.

The game is already more than fully funded, so this is not a plea to donate. I don’t know the folks who made the game, and I’m not associated with Hasbro in any way. But if you know any kids who would benefit from a game that encourages math skills and teaches them to work together for the good of all, you may want to sign up as a backer and get a copy of the game for the very reasonable price of $10.

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