So, part of parenting (and we could certainly debate how big a part it should or should not be) is having your own kids experience the best moments of your own childhood. We see it all the time: A grandfather passes a tradition, or a lesson, or an activity down to a father, who then passes it down to a son. Sometimes parents can swing too far in that direction, forcing things upon their kids, but I don’t think I have ever met a parent who has flat out refused to share the positive aspects of their upbringing with their own children. It just doesn’t happen.
I wanted my kids to enjoy games.
Just like I had enjoyed games.
But something happened to games over the years. Games had gotten expensive. Like, really, really expensive. And we didn’t have a whole lot of money.
To clarify, we never went without. We always had a roof over our heads, food on the table. I don’t want to make this sound more dramatic than it was. But taking a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a board game? That just wasn’t a realistic option.
So, what’s a father who wants his kids to experience the thrill of playing a great game to do? I decided I would make a game. I would make the greatest game of all time.
But, before the game, there was this story.
My youngest daughter and I had written a story together, about a wonderfully charming world of Shibbers, and Hover Boats, and Hounds, and Pagley O’Fuzzinstuff. I would do the writing, she would offer suggestions and come up with some of the names.
I remember her grabbing a phone book, trying to pick out a last name for the main character Samantha. We opened to a random section...in the “K”s. At the top of each page of the phone book, it would list the first two letters of the last names appearing at the beginning of the page and the first two letters of the last names appearing at the end of the page. The page we had turned to covered “Ke” to “Ko”. My youngest pointed to the top of the page.
“That’s it,” she said. “Keko. Samantha Keko.”
And so the Keko Chronicles began.
And I decided that if I was going to make a game, a game based on this wonderfully charming world of Shibbers, and Hover Boats, and Hounds, and Pagley O’Fuzzinstuff might be pretty neat.
So I got some pieces of white card stock from work that always ended up in the trash. And I got some stickers from one of those dollar type stores. And a bag of colored stones (also from the dollar type store). And a pen.
And I started making cards.
The first card I made was the P.T.A.W.M.T. (Portal to Another World Machine Thingy). It was a central part of the first chapter of the Keko Chronicles. Lord Quiggs swoops in driving his P.T.A.W.M.T. and takes Samantha and Daniel Keko to the world of Nuggles. The game had to include the P.T.A.W.M.T. Then, I made the Shibber Queen, and Krystal cards, and Pagley’s Hover Boat and so on and so forth.
I made character cards and action cards and I made the Mask of Unwanted Sorrows and the Keko Journal. And I thought it was going to be the greatest game anyone had ever played in the history of the world. Ever. I was so proud. What a great fatherly moment!
And we played the game.
And the kids loved it! Loved it!
But there was one gigantic, unavoidable problem.
Painfully horrible. It wasn’t even the least bit fun. It was like playing one of those never ending games of War in 90 degree heat. While being stung by bees.
But the kids loved it, so we kept playing it. And it was miserable.
Games lasted forever. Nobody ever won. Turn after turn would go by and nothing would happen. It was a disaster, but something provoked me to keep at it. Add a few cards here. Take a few cards away there. A little more of this. A little less of that. Play a few more games. Rinse and repeat, and rinse and repeat, and rinse and repeat.
Thank God we couldn’t afford Monopoly...