As this article goes live, I’m soaking up the excitement of gamer geeks, prototypes, game debuts, convention promotions and deals at Origins Game Fair. It’s bittersweet because this is one of the places we watched Madison and Kennedy show their intelligence, independence and charisma for the game industry. In addition to other game companies, they proudly and effectively demo’d science-based games for Genius Games. They kicked butt and made this mom proud. But it didn’t really come as any surprise because science has come easy for my girls. Combine that with social skills and a hobby they know inside and out and you have a recipe for success. And I’m excited to say that our youngest has officially committed to a pre-med track at the University of Iowa and had orientation a couple days ago. Seemed kind of fitting to feature a science-based game on the website as a tribute to her future career. Hence, an overview of Genotype, a game we first saw as a prototype during a behind-the-scenes look at a board game company a few years ago!
Genotype is designed for anywhere from one to five players and is based on the experiments of Gregor Mendel. One of the best aspects of this game is that it can be utilized as a teaching tool to emphasize the theories of genetics and dominant/recessive traits. There’s a resource included that explains the scienfic principles along with how that concept is implemented in the game. Each player maintains their own garden where they’re working to validate the traits on their designated plants. The main board represents things like the research areas, evaluations, nursery, costs and tools. Dice represent the variable outcomes that can occur during breeding process.
There are three main phases that take place over five rounds. The Working Phase involves action selection where players decide how to prepare their gardens, acquire funding or secure access to traits they need for their research. During the Plant Breeding Phase, players select offspring dice in an attempt to validate their plants. Players can spend their funds on upgrades during the Research Upgrade Phase.
Research takes a lot of work which is carried out through various actions in the Working Phase. Gardening allows players to draw, harvest or sow cards in their gardens. You can modify the parent genes in order to manipulate the results that will occur from the offspring dice. Setting research goals is a way to earn additional points during end game scoring. Additional spaces provide income, allow data validation and provide tools.
The Plant Breeding Phase is one of the most visible explanations of how the dissemination of traits occurs. Results will vary based on the dominant and recessive genes of the parents. Players roll the Offspring Dice then divide the results according to the Punnet Square for each color. These results will be impacted by the manipulation of the parent genes in the action phase. Players then take turn selecting Offspring Dice to validate the traits on the plant cards in their gardens.
Research isn’t as simple as planting and observing. The third phase of the round is the Research Upgrade Phase and is an opportunity for players to expand their garden, draft additional Offspring Dice, take additional actions in future rounds or hire someone from a pool of available assistants. Following that phase, the round ends and is reset for the next one. After five rounds, scores are tallied based on completed cards, research goals and leftover funds to determine the best researcher.
There’s a lot happening in a game of Genotype, but at it’s core it is a very easy game to understand. You don’t need to excel at science to appreciate and enjoy this STEM-based game. Along with an assortment of other science puzzles and games, you can find Genotype on Genius Games’ website or order from Amazon. As always, we encourage you to ask your local game store if they stock Genotype. Follow them on Facebook for updates on their latest science-inspired products!
Do games help you understand difficult topics and subjects easier?