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You Can Give Them the World!
BrainBox All Around the World
Member Name: jo1976
BrainBox All Around the World
Date: 10/01/12, updated on 07/10/13 (73 review reads)
Advantages: Very educational, surprisingly fun, inexpensive, well designed simple packaging and gameplay
Disadvantages: Can become repetitive, adult players have an advantage over children players
What Is It
'The World' is one of a number of card game sets produced by Brainbox, with this one focusing on different countries in the world. The boxed set is a very simple affair, consisting of a basic sand timer, funky triangular faced die and over seventy cards, with each card representing a different country of the world. Each card has a series of images and words which are associated with that particular country. This includes an image of the country, indicating its size, shape and location in relation to other countries. The card also includes the capital city as well as any major landmarks and key features that may be associated with the country, such as sports, animals, instruments or national dress etc. Each card generally has around six different images as well as place names and cities.
How to Play
The game is essentially a simple memory task, where each player is given ten seconds to memorise a selection of facts and images associated with a particular country on the front of the card. There are a series of questions printed on the back of each card relating to the words and images on the front.
There are essentially two different ways of playing the game, depending on whether this is being played alone or as a couple or group. As a single player, you can answer all of the questions and keep your own score. As part of a pair or group, the player rolls the dice and the number rolled is the question they need to answer. If answered correctly, the player gets to keep that particular card. The rules suggest that each game is played over a ten minute period, with the winner being the one who has accrued the greatest number of cards during that period.
My nine year old son is extremely competitive and also very thirsty for learning about new places and absorbs fact incredibly quickly. I thought this game would capture his interest immediately but, to be totally honest, he was not overly interested in the game initially and it was actually a few weeks before we played it properly. I suspect this was simply that he had an abundance of other toys and games for his birthday (including DS games and a remote control helicopter) that just seemed more fun and entertaining at the time. The game is presented quite simply, in a fairly sturdy box, and doesn't necessarily compete with other, more exciting toys and games.
Once we did actually sit down and play this, both I and my nine year old son did find it enjoyable. It makes a refreshing change not to have spend ages setting a game up or finding batteries and so on, with this game it is a matter of shuffling the cards and turning over the sand time and the game is ready.
The packaging recommends this game for children over the age of eight upwards, through to adulthood. I think this is fairly accurate although there is no real reason why slightly younger children couldn't play along too, providing they are pretty confident readers. Although much of the memorising and the questions that follow are based on images, the child does need to be able to read the random words and places that are printed on each card, relevant to each country in question.
Having just picked a card at random, Nepal includes the capital city (as do all of the cards) which in that instance is Kathmandu as well as a picture and the text Rhododendron. That is not necessarily typical of the level of the language used on each card but does demonstrate that a child would need to be pretty confident with literacy, unless the parent takes the time to cherry pick the simpler cards beforehand. I do recall that my son chose that particular Nepal card at one point and had a bit of a tantrum because he couldn't understand the words. As I want the game to be enjoyable (and as my son is a terrrible loser, even now) I do let him choose the cards a little and I tend to try and pick harder cards for myself.
This is billed as a game purely based on memory, with each player having the same opportunity to get the answers right as all of the information needed is printed on the front of the card. Realistically, most adult players will have something of an advantage over younger players, particularly those at the bottom end of the age range like my nine year old son. For example, I already knew many of the capital cities without needing to memorise the names from the cards. Younger kids also have the disadvantage of having to spend time working out the spellings of more unusual and difficult words. For this reason, I find the ten second period of memorising the facts on the card to be far too difficult for my son and I generally allow him at least thirty seconds per card. I also think allowing him extra time to read and look at the card, makes it more likely that he will absorb some of the facts and information which is, at the end of the day, part of the intention with this kind of educational game.
With so many different countries featured within this game, and a wide range of facts and information included on each card, there is no doubt that this game offers the opportunity for children and adults to absorb a huge amount of information about the world out there.
I'm no expert on Geography myself and this game has made me aware of new information and places that I'd never even heard of before. There was even a country included that I'd never come across before, leading me to google it out of pure curiosity. I discovered that the country in question, Myanmar, is actually the rather contentious renaming of Burma. (Unfortunately, this wasn't indicated anywhere on the card itself, although that kind of information would be quite difficult to include in a single word or image.)
I've also brushed up on my knowledge of capital cities and basic geography, certainly in terms of countries bordering other countries and the location of seas and oceans. My son has shown an interest in the different flags adopted by different nationalities. There is even a specific card dedicated to flags, as well as the flags featuring on the individual country's card.
Each card and game can lead to a wider discussion about different nationalities. This game certainly offers lots of scope for wider learning and would be a great additional for a classroom setting for children in key stage two upwards.
For any game to be educational, the child (or adult) really needs to enjoy playing, so there has to be a fun factor involved. Here, the game manages to achieve this. This will depend on the child themselves - they really do need to have a level of interest in other countries and the world in general, which I believe most kids of primary school age do, providing they aren't distracted.
The cards are brightly coloured and the variety and types of images included, help to keep my son interested. The questions asked are also varied, with some of them being purely observational. (For instance, asking how many of a certain object are pictured or what colours are featured on the flag.) The variation in the formation of the questions also makes it more tricky to decide what features to focus on, making the game challenging for adult players too.
Having the option to play this as a single player, gives this game an advantage over other board games although this isn't something that really appeals to either my son or me as we both enjoy the challenge of competing against each other. I can imagine that some people would take pleasure in methodically working their way through the cards as a single player.
The game itself can become a little repetitive after a while, as the format is so basic. The number of different cards means that there is no excuse for the same countries to be repeated but the general process itself does became a little repetitive. For that reason, I don't tend to enforce a set ten minute rule and simply play until one or both of us starts to lose interest. Sometimes that is well over ten minutes, sometimes after just five minutes or so - depending on other distractions!
Cost and Availability
The RRP for this game is £10. I paid £5 for this back in September 2011 from Amazon and find that the price fluctuates regularly between those two figures. It is currently available for £7.49. I'm happy with the price that I paid and would recommend shopping around rather than paying the full RRP. The game (and others including Maths and History versions) can also be purchased from WHSmith and Tesco Direct, amongst many other stockists.
This isn't my son's favourite board game, by any means, and it is one that he only really plays with when I suggest a game, rather than at his own suggestion. Nonetheless, it is a game that is surprisingly enjoyable, considering its simplicity and rather obvious educational focus (which could have been a bit off-putting to reluctant learners.)
I particularly like the simplicity of the game and the lack of added gimmicks and complications. The rules are simple and straightforward and the length of the game and the game play itself can easily be adapted to fit different children's needs and interests. I'm also impressed with the practical design of the box as everything fits inside neatly and securely after play. I think the set offers excellent value for money (particularly if bought for less than the RRP) considering the number of different cards included. From a practical parent's point of view, I also appreciate that no single card is crucial to the game - having so many cards, some are bound to go astray but that wouldn't affect the game's playability at all.
This isn't necessarily the most exciting of games and, if given as a gift, it probably won't be met with rapturous applause. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly entertaining, particularly in short bursts, and has the potential to fill a young mind with facts and information in a relatively fun way. For that reason, I would recommend this game for children aged eight and above, although some modifications may be needed to make the game slightly easier and more balanced towards them.
Summary: An inexpensive and educational game