Animals Are Always There
Animals are a beautiful and ever-present part of our lives. Whether you look after a pet, watch David Attenborough whenever he appears on the telly, or simply listen to the birds tweeting outside, animals have always been wonderous companions to share the Earth with. As a result, animals appear in a huge variety of board games, often in incredibly cute and fun fashion. However, it isn’t very often that a board game is designed and released by a charity to support their important work. Farplace The Game, and the Farplace Animal Rescue charity, are out to change that!
Farplace: The Game
Farplace is a set-collection card game in which players care for and re-home a huge variety of adorable animals. Each re-homed animal earns you movement points to navigate the board, which resembles the play area in an animal sanctuary (along with the occasional hazard). With dog tunnels and pigeon houses dotted around the board, each player has different movement abilities, depending on the animal they are playing as. In the true spirit of animal care, it is not the fastest player who will necessarily win; it is the player who has done the best job of caring for every animal that they take in.
Despite the designer also being the CEO of an active animal charity (probably quite a busy man), the love and thought that has gone into crafting these systems is brilliantly clear, and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Through victory conditions and player actions that constantly revolve around the care of creatures (rather than player conflict or pure efficiency), the thematic nail is struck firmly on the head. Even though it has some complexity, it seems light enough very casual gamers to enjoy, opening the experience to as many players as possible. The game also has a friendly, cuddly aesthetic, making it enticing for children and families.
Education And Awareness In Gaming
When board games are created for educational or awareness purposes, they tend to feature watered down, heavily used mechanics that are warped to emphasise the subject matter. While this makes sense (institutions will look at what is popular and attempt to replicate it), the result is often unengaging and overbearing, creating boredom and apathy amongst the people that the game was designed to inspire.
This is a true injustice, since gaming is a fantastic medium for storytelling and embedding meaning into your actions. By playing a game, you don’t just learn about what an animal sanctuary does; you are emotionally connected to it. When you cannot re-home an animal, there can be genuine sadness and frustration, just as somebody doing the real job would feel in that situation. You don’t feel as though you have to learn about vet check-ups, or legislation surrounding the care and release of non-indigenous species, you learn it naturally and implicitly from the systems of the game.
Truly good educational games embed information and values into the mechanics themselves, rather than just giving the player sheets of facts to read. It is to show and not tell, which Farplace seems to do excellently. When I saw the game, it naturally led me to think more about animal welfare and adoption; a subject that (while I have always felt a close bond with animals), I have not given much previous thought. The game achieves its objective of raising awareness in a subtle way, something that similar titles would do well to learn from.
Farplace Animal Rescue
A registered animal charity since 2008, Farplace Animal Rescue has grown from one location to having dozens of charity shops across the UK (especially in Wales and the north-east of England). They specialise in difficult care cases that other centres may struggle to take on, and have a variety of beautiful animals up for adoption. In the typical style for the UK, Farplace charity shops take donations such as clothes and household items.
If you are interested in helping their cause, head to their website at:
Farplace Animal Rescue - Farplace Animal Rescue
Kickstarter Ends on August 20th 2023
To back the game on Kickstarter, click the link here, or find the Farplace banner on the Zatu homepage! As with all Kickstarter campaigns, remember that no funds will be taken if the project doesn’t meet its goal, but I would love to see this one succeed! If you’d like a copy of the game today, they may be available from your local Farplace charity shop.