We're developing a game about the aspirations and uncertainities of global power.
It's designed for anyone to easily learn and play, and generate a fun, meaningful experience.
Press release: Thursday December 22, 2018
Questions included "What’s your position?"
I designed Geopowr with my family, it was really a group effort. We came up with the idea of linking quadrants of energy to create power plants. My sister Evelyn, who is an illustrator, and game designer J.P. Eekels helped tremendously. They run Cerebellum Bug Games and we worked closely together to develop the game over the past year.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a biochemist at the University of Alberta. My job involves finding patterns in proteins and membranes and figuring out how they come together in cells. We design polymers that are used in drug discovery and generating clean energy. Finding these patterns in nature inspired me to create the patterns used to create energy in Geopowr.
What is your title?
I’m a Professor and scientist during the weekdays. On weekends and evenings I’m a creative individual making and playing games. I try to create ways to bring people together in new ways. I also initiated Cure Cancer to connect researchers and the public, and DiscoveryLab to bring scientists and business experts together.
When did you invent this game?
I invented the Geopowr game mechanic in January 2018. We’d had a big family gathering at our home, and exchanged games including Settlers of Catan.
Why did you decide to invent it?
I designed Geopowr for people to have fun together playing with the concept of energy diversification. I wanted people to have an enjoyable way to come together over an issue that really matters for our planet. The mathematical basis of the game and layers of strategy also satisfied my analytical bent.
What day is the game launching?
Geopowr was launched this weekend. After almost one year of refinement and a final push to complete the box, we put the game on our website and can ship it anywhere in Canada. We’re also offering to make it available in cafes and gift shops in Edmonton.
Where can people find it?
Geopowr is available on www.geopowr.com and from Mission: Fun & Games.
Who will carry your game for people to play?
The Table Top Cafe, Apt to Game, and Pawn and Pint Café in Edmonton have copies for people to play.
Press release: Thursday December 21, 2018
A scientist working on smart polymers for drug discovery and cleaner energy is launching a new board game for people to develop the power their continent needs.
The demand for renewable energies and oil pipelines continues to consume political discourse but often seems far from people’s ability to make a difference.
The idea was to come up with a fun game that allows anyone to create all the power their world needs and solve the global energy crisis in 30 minutes.
Geopowr is designed for people age 7 and above, and uses attractive tiles to represent oil, solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energies.
Energy tiles are linked into patterns to build power plants for the continent that a player chooses to represent.
Colorful cubes made of wood are stacked to form power plants on energy quadrants once linked up into sets of five.
The game is packaged in a convenient travel-size box, and is easy to learn and play.
Dr. Michael Overduin teamed up with game designer J.P. Eekels to develop the game this year, and intends to release to local game cafes.
They designed the game to be simple and elegant, with layers of strategy that are intriguing for both beginners and experts.
They are launching the game this week, having finished prototyping based on positive feedback from play testers, schools and game conventions.
A limited edition of the first official Geopowr game is now available at www.geopowr.com and at Mission: Fun & Games.
Board games have been the foundation of my childhood. I’ve lived in varying climates as I was born in Toronto, raised in Denver and moved between cities in England. Playing games provided a way to think about these places and try to make sense of them.
Each of my schools had different approaches to teaching about responsible energy use, some successful, some not so much. It remains a real challenge to get people to think about energy, let alone change behaviours. My generation feels increasingly under pressure to fix the problems of energy insecurity and climate change, and we’re frustrated by the lack of real progress.
I felt compelled to make a difference as I’ve witnessed the effect of energy use on our environment. The real challenge is getting people who feel powerless including stressed parents, displaced teenagers and vulnerable children to get onboard as easily as possible. So I decided to make it fun, and help make a board game that anyone could play, and that children and young people would genuinely enjoy playing.
There is a mathematical logic that is woven in to complement the broader educational agenda. The math is simple. Just create sets of five quadrants to win Construction Sites, Power Plants and Power Towers. We similarly need to all make small, logical steps to better the condition of our planet for future generations.
To me, this is what Geopowr is all about! Let’s make learning and caring about our home planet be a relaxing, enjoyable and stress free way of becoming more aware. This games allows anyone to become the expert in global energy supply — will you be going for green, renewable energy? Or will you maximise your profits and gain monopoly over oil? The cards are on the table…
About Chloe: I have been a behaviour specialist teaching assistant in a variety to both school and community settings. Some of these include The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy boarding school for young adults with SEND, Music shakers (a community class for mothers/fathers/guardians/foster parents and their little ones), Montessori nurseries in Canada, and in SEND and PRU school settings in the UK. I graduated from the University of Southampton with a BSc Psychology, and I am now working as a consultant for SEND schools in the UK. Due to my background in school settings and with children, I believe I am in a prime position to work with schools across the world to promote the power of creative, fun and, proactive learning!
Civilization was built on the back of power, and was spawned when humans created fire. The development of coal and steam energy drove the industrial revolution, and was followed by the discovery of oil in places like Alberta, where this game was invented.
As a scientist, I know that creation of sustainable clean power is a top priority. I want to make a difference, but often feel powerless due to the apparent immensity of the challenge. However, doing the impossible with limited resources is my job, so I’ve been gradually hacking away at it.
Growing up in Canada I became aware of nuclear energy as being as much a political football and risk to people as a promising energy source. However, the problem seemed far away, like a murky cloud on the horizon.
As a student at the Rockefeller University I saw how oil fortunes could be used to support universities and trainees. Working with scientists including Nobel Laureate David Baltimore showed me how wise investment in science could lead to exciting discoveries about cell signaling and cancer.
I formed my first lab at the University of Colorado in Denver. The Pew Charitable Trusts gave me unrestricted funds to discover how proteins recognize molecules like lipids. Their riches again came from oil, but allowed me to peer into the traffic between organelles in our cells.
This story began to come together when I moved to Birmingham, UK thanks to Wellcome Trust support. I set up a national lab to see the atomic nuclei of proteins using powerful superconducting magnets. I also started to think more concretely about the possibility of addressing global threats through community action.
I joined the Lunar Society, a group of free thinkers, and organized meetings to discuss societal challenges. One evening the conversation turned to responsibility of the creators of industrial revolution to initiate real change, and the need to address the natural resistance individuals have to changing comfortable behaviours.
A few years later I'd moved to Edmonton and we were playing Carcassone, which I'd just been given as a Christmas present. My thoughts germinated into making a fun game for anyone to play about creating sustainable energy to build a better future for our planet.
Geopowr was born, and family and friends came on board to play test and develop the game. I’m still working away in the lab, and really excited about new nanotechnologies we’re developing to create cleaner energies. But in the evenings I play Geopowr and dream of creating a better place for our children.
About Michael: I'm a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, and study proteins involved in cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and microbial infection. I also founded CureCancer and DiscoveryLab with my students in order to engage the public and the business community in the exciting opportunities coming out of fundamental scientific research.
Geopowr is designed with textured 3D images to bring energy to life, and appeals to the senses through colour, shape and tactile feel without depending on any text. The energies are drawn in contrasting colours with icons to be easily recognized by anyone.
Solar energy is depicted in yellow with an iconic image of the sun, and is championed by the Solar Goddess.
Wind energy is represented by green quadrants showing wind blowing through a turbine, and is the mission of the Wind Farmer.
Hydroelectric energy is shown as a blue image of water rolling over a turbine, and is pursued by Hydroelectrica.
Geothermal energy is shown in red with a house that is powered by ground source heat pumps, and is the ambition of Geothermalina.
Oil wells are represented by black quadrants with an oil derrig, and are the goal of the Oil Baron.
Cubes are painted to represent continents, with the standard game including North America for which we selected green to represent its forests, Europe is purple to represent its royalty, and Asia is orange, a symbolic colour of Buddhism and Hinduism.
We started Geopowr with a basic premise - connect energy quadrants to build a diversity of power for continents and ideally benefit the world by working together. Hundreds of gameplays later, we have a prototype that balances strategy, tactics and chance, and offers cooperativity and intrigue.
The gameplay is designed to be simple and elegant, being based on mathematically complete set of tiles. Each tile has four quadrants composed of a type of Energy, and are connected into sets of five in order to win points.
Connecting the first five quadrants of an Energy earns a player five points, as represented by an Energy Cube. A single wooden Cubes is placed on the area to designate a Construction Site.
When another set of five quadrants is connected another Cube is added on top to represent a Power Plant worth 10 points that supplies energy to a continent.
Connecting yet another set of 5 or 10 quadrants earns you a Power Tower or Mega Tower, respectively. Each is worth progressively more.
The experience of building your own Towers is fun. It’s also a natural way to learn to add by fives, which is helpful for children or anyone who is not yet a math wiz.
Each player gets a Personal Mission Card to allow them to win bonus points for championing a particular energy type. There are also Global Missions, with Green Queen rewarding those who build a Solar Power Plant, Wind Farm and Hydroelectric Dam, while Well Digger Dude gives you points for building an Oil Refinery and Geothermal Plants.
The best strategy is to build a balance of Power Plants that includes all the types of Energy, and then grow your Towers.
The tactics include friendly approaches. For example, players can build adjacent Construction Sites that boost each other when becoming operational Power Plants due to shared roads and power lines.
Or aggressive moves can be used like blocking an opponents opportunities for growing Sites or building Power Plants.
The game is a microcosm for the geopolitical cooperation and antagonism that plays out on the world stage. Ultimately the best approach for survival of civilization rests on providing sustainable power to all continents and peoples.