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ethical shopping

As you know, our major retailing drive is through Wellington Enviroschools. They emerged as the most aligned organisation in terms of its kaupapa and the integrity of the game.

But also, in the Wellington region, we have a retailer who is also aligned to our core values. Commonsense Organics.

Several years ago Morgan & I made giant pohutukawa for the Commonsense Organic stores in Kapiti & Central Wellington. Kapiti now have theirs up all year round: Wellington put theirs up for xmas.

Now, in the Kapiti store, the games are sitting on the counter, beneath the pohutukawa. There they’re storming out the door!!!

Games can also be found in Commonsense Organics stores in Lower Hutt, Wellington & Kilbirnie (both later this week). Also in Kilbirnie we are in the fabulous Children’s Bookshop.

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Room 14’s learning log

Today we had a very special, and fun visit from Card game designer Jil Hemming. Jil has created a game called ‘Cloak of Protection’. This game is a superbly exciting card game which challenges and educates children as well as builds strategic and problem solving skills. The aim of the game is to build your own cloak, made up of birds from four different realms – the forest, the sky, the earth and the underworld (extinct).

The game really was awesome – for all ages and abilities. The whole class got so excited and competitive – what a great buzz!!!

Muritai School, Lower Hutt

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human protection

Today I’m at Muritai School teaching the game to a class. As they want to promote it – at their carnival – this coming weekend.

I’m always happy to go into a school & teach Cloak of Protection. Hopefully – as the teaching, learning & sales network, with Enviroschool Wellington, gets going – students all over, will be teaching others too.

Cloak of Protection is simple enough to learn. But as you pick up strategies, it becomes quite fierce!

This way of marketing is new. Instead of a retail space taking their cut – the rewards go back into the Enviroschool Progamme at each school. Schools earn – among other things – extra games, and cash rewards. For early games the schools gets $5 per game – but the amount increases dramatically as sales go up!

One school, Otari, is sitting on 9 games sold, and when one more game sells they will have reached their first point band. I have a brand new cheque book sitting here, ready to send them their reward package!

Meanwhile, Kapiti Island, has won something huge – it’s been declared free from stoats. It was. Then it wasn’t. Now it is again.

The island is offshore my beach – Waikanae. Close by, and really accessible.

But we never thought a stoat could travel there too. The best guess about how one got there, is by floating on a log. Female kits are pregnant before they leave the (feather-lined) den – so it’s like a whole family arriving in one!

The forest birds who live there, will again thrive. Stoat and ship rat are the big time forest silencers. In the game over half of our forest birds get eaten by the stoat. Just as well players of the game have gods for their protection. And just as well the island has humans for its protection.

Massive undertaking – well done DOC!! Thankyou for keeping the cloak alive.

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games, and more games

Had a fabulous time at the Kids Connect hui, Hutt City, last Tues. Students, years 5-8, were there from many of the Hutt schools.

In the morning I was part of a discussion group. Students shared all the fabulous things they were doing to look after our plants & animals.

Then in the afternoon we played Cloak of Protection. We had groups of 8-10 students for 15 minutes a rotation. My friend Elizabeth & I taught the game on speed!! But all the groups got to trade and feel the impact of our predators.

The next day, I heard that some students were back at their schools playing the game – cool!

It was great to meet students & teachers, and to start 13 new schools on the enviroschools teaching, learning & sales network.

Meanwhile Gordon & Ann, of Kapiti Boardgamers, were in Hamilton this last weekend – playing games. They’ve taken Cloak of Protection to play with the Hamilton folks + they’ll be testing Gordon’s new role-playing game about saving the ocean. We played it last weekend & we all lost – we weren’t sure whether to blame the CEO of the company, or if it was the lack of a green person to fight more strongly for the environment. But down went our eco-system.

I was a beach-walker, and, as the beach got lost & saved & lost again, I had to walk around the city.

I would SO miss Waikanae beach. Me (walking and collecting), dogs (chasing sticks & seagulls), & families (splashing in the water / net fishing on the beach).

In Cloak of Protection, the dog is a predator. Attracted by the strong smell of brown kiwi, one dog can do a lot of damage – some kill hundreds!! Even adult kiwi are easily found and crushed by dogs. SO we know to be careful where dogs are allowed to run free.

Once – the kuri dogs (they arrived with the Polynesian settlers about 1280AD) – were fed mostly on fish – not from the beach, so much, but from scavenging around camps.

Interesting facts & trivia from the booklet that goes with the game, Cloak of Protection

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Kids Connect hui

Tomorrow we’re at the Kids Connect hui in Hutt City. There we get to play the game with a lot more schools, including 13 more enviroschools. Look out for their names & comments tomorrow, under the tab ‘Enviroschools’.

And please keep those sales coming in. One school, Otari School, only need one more sale to get their first reward – good going!

Meanwhile here are some of my first illustrations for the cards. As all game designers must do to get started – I made my own. The card was from cereal packets, and the coloured papers were from around the house. It was fun!

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the good-parent mallard

Up the Waikanae river today, I saw a mallard swimming with 2 chicks close in behind. They’re really common around here – in the ponds, on the lagoons, & up the river.

Why do mallards do so well here? They were hard enough to establish! It took a huge amount of time and effort. First try was in 1867 with British ducks. Further tries were in the 1930s & 1940s when many more birds (including American stock) were released.

There are three main reasons. She lays many eggs in the nest (my friend saw a bird with 24 chicks the other week!). She can lay several times a year. And they are good parents.

Both parents watch over their nestlings carefully. She leads the ducklings to water soon after they hatch, carefully watching over them, as they swim along.

Meanwhile, Cloak of Protection is at the Hutt City hui, next week 6 Nov. I’m really looking forward to playing the game with students from many schools in the region. You will see a lot more enviroschools loaded next week, and can watch their journey from here. Slowly the cloak spreads!

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next version of the game

Here are some images from Morgan’s original design for the card deck. You can clearly see the intention behind his illustrations.

Morgan loves skeletons. As a child he turned the wash-house into a museum & stocked it with bones, bugs & beetles etc. Now he lives with skeletons inside his house!

While he was planning the deck, we drove around the country-side with plastic bags in the boot. If we saw any dead birds on the side of the road – we’d pick them up. Then Morgan would bury them in his backyard for a year – works a treat!

SO you could say that he understands the birds from the inside out. And this understanding shows in his illustrations. I’ve been saying this to people at the Expressions exhibition, and they agree. He knows his subjects!

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how the game was created

I’ve had some really interesting conversations about details in the booklet How the Game was Created. This booklet was put together by Chriss at Expressions Gallery, to go alongside the exhibition of Morgan’s illustrations.

Here are some early illustrations done by my friend Ruth Blair. I drew the outlines, and she put the colour in, using a technique that she was using for short films at the time.

I took these cards to Raumati South school and played it lunchtimes with years 5&6. Kids followed me begging to play – they loved the trading aspect of the game. But some cards they loved SO much, they wouldn’t trade them for anything!!

People still respond really positively to these images – they’re very powerful. But it still took four more years before the game was finished.