Linden Cave, a former videographer at Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), has devised a trivial board game, Real # 1 Guyanese.
The game board is in Guyana map format and has five sets of cards representing Arts and Culture, Science and Nature, History, Geography and Sport, the categories on which the questions are based. All components of the game are produced locally except the board itself and the dice, which are imported. It has already caught the attention of several Guyanese, including Education Minister Priya Manickchand.
According to Cave, it all started one Saturday afternoon in May last year when he invited the youth group at his church – the New Testament Church of God of the New Testament – to his home for a social event. The occasion was to get the youngsters involved in fun activities that would build better relationships. However, aside from the fun part of it, he also considered it an opportunity to get the youths to learn new things. He provided board games, but his guests were not too keen on playing because the game was foreign in nature, the rules were not well known and therefore not as fun as they could be. That was a light bulb moment for Cave, who immediately thought that games involving Guyana could be more glamorous.
By next Monday, a name in the Cave had already been chosen. He was still employed with GuySuCo at the time and discussed his idea with a colleague. Together they worked on the logo for his prospective business. The businessman praises the idea of coming together to God, adding, “He was just God and me.”
The logo was only the beginning, as it took more than a year for it to set up. He shared that he had done a lot of research on the internet, checked out old newspaper articles, and visited the archives at the National Library, and the National Museum of Guyana. Although he spent countless hours on his research, he did not find as much as he had hoped, especially in sport. “Although we have such an amazing history, it is not well documented,” said the entrepreneur.
As a result, even though the board game is ready for sale, Cave is still investigating the ability to add to the different categories. This, he noted, will allow for new editions of the game as time goes on.
To play the game, the person whose turn follows the gaps along the map according to the number shown when the dice is rolled. Each space is color coded to indicate the card category to be used. Each card has five questions with the Golden Arrowhead colors assigned to each question. Not all the questions are to be answered in one go. In fact, there is another dot of color in each color-coded space that determines which question to answer.
There is also another set of cards labeled ‘Ask Yuh Granny’ which gives instructions to ‘Tek A Breezer’, ‘Wait Right Deh’ or ‘Ask Yuh Granny’. Based on the instruction, the player is allowed to ‘Tek A Breezer’ by not answering any questions. For ‘Stay Right Deh’ the player loses a turn. The ‘Ask Yuh Granny’ card can be kept until the player wishes to use it. It allows the player not to answer a question or instead of getting the other player to read the question, get an extra turn. Each question card has the answers to the questions on the other side.
Cave said he did a survey in 2019 to see how people felt about the game and whether they would consider buying it. At the end of the game, he would often have people asking for another chance to play the game, as they had an idea of what it all was or reminded them of a solution they had learned years ago at school and believed that they would be better prepared to conquer the game the second time around. Asked if there was a favorite category, Cave couldn’t say exactly, but he noticed a majority of his players deviate from the sports category. He said he fully understood this as his audience on Facebook is about 76% of women.
The game was initially designed further for Grade Six children and up but believes it could even be introduced to younger children, as they will eventually go on and be better for them know about their country earlier. Cave added that part of the reason he wasn’t initially intended for smaller kids was because he will be making a younger version of the game.
Hoping for the best
One of his biggest challenges in making the board game possible was finance. Cave knew what he wanted but didn’t have the necessary resources to make it happen. According to the man, when he considered the budget needed to finish the project, he reached millions of dollars and later cut it to $ 5 million. He talked about visiting different businesses, coming up with his idea and seeking investment. But he said almost everyone was skeptical about betting on a new idea. Cave then decided he was going to ask for much less and maybe people would invest so he decided he was going instead to ask $ 100,000 from 50 people, but even then, almost everyone said no.
He said people told him that no matter how incredible his project was, they were not about to give their money to a stranger. “I remember this one guy who said to me, ‘I’m going to invest after you hit it big’ and I told him that when I hit it big, I won’t need you. I thought people would be more interested in the legacy attached to it, to say ‘my family will share this achievement you’ve created …’ but people didn’t have time with that “, said Cave. He eventually managed to get someone to invest the required $ 5 million but even then it wasn’t enough. He needs more money and has been working on it ever since.
Another of her challenges was printing the cards. “I tried to get some people to help me with 3D printing but it didn’t work out so I had to go learn as fast as I could [to do 3D printing] …, ”He added.
The pandemic was also a challenge, adding to the reason people didn’t want to invest as well as not being able to get people to play the game for social isolation reasons.
“Asking people for money was something I had never done. I felt like several days, I wanted to take this whole thing and throw it in the junk because you’re sitting there [until] 3 o’clock in the morning [doing] research and [saying] why am I doing this? Who cares? Everyone [is] on their mobile phones, on social media. Who would play this boring game you spend all this time on? This is a waste of time. You should be looking into something else as a second job to provide for your family. But I didn’t feel that way every day. My only goal was to finish this project and go into people’s homes and hope for the best, ”he said.
In fact, Cave’s attempt to realize his dream was so great that he subsequently quit his job to pursue them. Colleagues and others questioned why he chose to leave his job in the midst of a pandemic when things were uncertain, especially when he had a family to look after. But he thought he was on to something and would rather try and fail than not at all.
“I can tell you that my wife is very supportive. She works at the GPHC [Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation]. Actually the first person of all my friends I spoke to, came, and I told him about it. I first made this horrible looking table, but it told me, ‘Maybe you’re on to something here. This looks like it’s worth billions of dollars. ‘And I was like he knew what he’s saying, ”said the father of three.
Getting the government interested in the trivial game initially was also a challenge. “I wrote to the President. I wrote the First Lady, the Minister for Tourism, the Minister for Sport, Youth and Culture, the Minister for Education but no one responded to me. I was still planning to go through it, ”he said. At that time he was brought to his attention by his wife’s manager, who was also a friend of Minister Manickchand. Cave had a meeting with the minister and, as he said, “the rest was history.” He added that he had little confidence that anything would come out of the meeting, but Minister Manickchand was very encouraging.
“And that’s what I’ve been telling people about. We no longer have to sit and read the textbooks. We condense the textbook knowledge into this game. She also encouraged me to look at some other materials for the other levels and go full circle. I was blown away that the minister was blown away, ”said an ecstatic Cave. The ministry is on board to introduce the Real # 1 Guyanese game to the schools.
His meeting with Minister Manickchand has resulted in his phone now ringing all the time. Cave already has more than 100 orders to fill. Many people, he says, see Real # 1 Guyanese as the perfect Christmas gift and have placed their orders to get it in time for Christmas. People living abroad have also expressed their desire to have the game and Cave is currently working on a way to make shipping possible.
Cave is also working on other versions of the board game and plans to introduce the Creolese board game next year.
He hopes to produce all the components of the game locally very soon. In addition, Cave said he is open to making Guyana Real # 1 the best he can be and welcomes ideas from anyone interested in joining. As his company does not have a brick and mortar location, the board game is distributed to customers. The cave can be contacted at 624-0117.