Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Tabletop game maker looking to educate preschoolers

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Lin Chi-wei displays board games produced by his company Shepherd Kit Co in Taipei on Tuesday last week.

Photo: courtesy of Lin Chi-wei

Four years ago, the now 31-year-old Lin Chi-wei (林啟維) started his own tabletop game development company seeking to introduce knowledge of the Paleolithic era and mathematics to children aged three and four, hoping to stimulate their interest in learning.

By founding Shepherd Kit Co in 2013, Lin said his goal “was to make [the acquisition of] knowledge interesting and fun,” adding that he thinks the Taiwanese take on education is “too serious.”

The company cooperated with the National Museum of Prehistory to develop the tabletop game Formosa Species Adventure (台灣特有種), which features documents and artifacts in the museum’s exhibitions.

Players move around Taiwan as prehistoric humans, gathering “materials” and exchanging them for artifacts, such as pottery, jade adornments, fishing harpoons and coffins, to develop their prehistoric civilization, Lin said.

Through playing the game, players glean a knowledge of Taiwanese prehistoric culture, such as the Dapenkeng culture, Lin said.

Lin said he originally intended to make educational material, but later decided to commercialize the material into tabletop games, which saw the introduction of food, guard and trading posts, and hunting lodges, as well as animals such as the Formosan sikka dear, the clouded leopard and monkeys.

Lin said he even added a shaman ritual altar to add depth to the game, while the game seeks to depict perfect geographical details, such as plateaus and sacred trees.

The game has been criticized because some of the animals are not native to Taiwan, he said, but all the animals can be seen in Taiwan and the game’s goal is to establish a basic concept that there are such animals in the nation, he said, adding that such impressions would then be further imprinted in the child’s mind when they see the animal.

That same intent lay behind the inclusion of prehistoric artifacts in the game, he said, adding that if children could identify the artifacts when they visit the museum, “I feel that we have achieved our goal with this game.”

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