Spotlight On The Open Road

Article by: Mayako K.

Edited by: Woosuk K.

Visual by: Manapo I. and Gabby F.

In a world where technology has taken over the pastimes of many teenagers — with a majority of teens tending to immerse themselves in video games or other technology-related activities during their free time — simple board games seem to be declining in popularity. In fact, the Telegraph reports that “while 73 percent of parents remembered regularly playing board games as children, only 44 percent of the children polled said they do so now.” However, Mr. Berg, a social studies teacher, and Mr. Strycharske, Media Production Specialist, within the ISM community have begun challenging this modern day norm by launching “The Open Road”, a bicycle touring adventure board game.

It all started at the beginning of 2017 when Mr. Berg and Mr. Strycharske bonded over their love for the outdoors and started brainstorming ideas for a new board game together. After going through and trying out several ideas, they decided on one of their favorite pastimes: bicycle touring. When they decided on the concept, they tried and played different versions of the game constantly with friends and family, regularly altering it as they gained insight from others. Meanwhile, as the pair developed upon the gameplay, they reached out to Saskia Rasink, an illustrator from Amsterdam, who agreed to help design the game. With the design and prototype active, they then approached manufacturers before starting their Kickstarter campaign in June.

The Kickstarter campaign was one of Mr. Strycharske’s least favorite parts about creating his own board game since “it requires you to be vigilant with promoting, updating, ‘cold calling’, emailing strangers, reaching out to bloggers and gaming communities” and also “opens you up to criticism, reviews, and even trolls”. Although it was a challenging task, the game was fully funded by over 300 people within a month. In January of 2018, the two received word from the manufacturers that the production of the game was complete!

Sure, most other board games have been through a comparable process, but “The Open Road” is truly unique in that it represents an idea that has never been pursued by other board games in the past. This is because, although there have only been a handful of bicycle-themed games, most were focused on racing. The Open Road is about bicycle touring, or “bikepacking”, which is when you load up a bunch of gear on your bicycle and ride for long distances over multiple days, weeks, months, etc.” Mr. Strycharske says. He enjoys “projects that require creative thinking and problem solving” which is exactly what creating a board game is. They first started “with small pieces of scrap paper to represent pieces, cards, and energy.” And eventually moved on to “custom prints, cards and boards, and 3D printed plastic pieces”.

The Open Road has sold games to shops and customers in over 15 countries and are also finalizing the artwork for The Open Road: Europe, which is planned for release later this year. If you don’t want to miss any updates about their new launch, be sure to check them out at https://www.openroadgames.com/!