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Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

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Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

Note: This Challenge has been completed.

Game Design Showdown
September 2005 Challenge - "Kiddie Zoo"

Genre: Children's Game
Theme: Something involving animals

Design Limitations:

  • Name Your Age Range - The design must state the target age range for the game. The lower end of the range must be less than 10 years old.
  • Physically Engaging - Obviously, this is a rather subjective item ... The game needs to allow the players the opportunity to get physically involved in the game. It does *not* need to be a dexterity game (but it can be). The game should include movement of game parts (pieces, cards, boards, etc.) or the players themselves.
  • Animal Miniatures - The game must make use of 3D miniature animals.
  • Players Make Decisions - Players decisions should make decisions throughout the game, and those decisions should drive the game. Avoid the the Candy Land/Shoots-n-Ladders style of roll-and-move or draw-card-and-move. Also avoid the "land on a square and do what it says", unless the players have some choice as to what square they land on.
  • Market Appropriate - The game should be one that a parent would want to play with his/her child ... no violence, sex, death, nor any of the other topics that wouldn't be kid-friendly.
Start Date: 15-September-2005
End Date: 22-September-2005, Noon EST (approximately)
Voting: 22-September-2005 through 29-September-2005

This Challenge has been completed.

To make critiques and comments on the entries for this Challenge, please do so in the critique thread:


For more info ...

Please read the Showdown Overview Thread, which lays out all of the background rules concerning this challenge ...

Questions, comments, and "clarifications" for this specific Challenge were handled on the following thread ...



Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #1 - Noah's Ark
by Challengers
Ages: 7 and up

Noah's Ark is a wacky farce and a cooperative game for any number of players

Equipment: One large, non-breakable container representing the Ark. Any number of plastic animals (except sea creatures – read your bible!), as long as there are two and only two of each. 10 chips or other markers in four colors (4 green, 3 yellow, 2 red, 1 blue). An opaque drawstring bag to hold the chips.

Preparation: The Ark is placed on the floor and all of the animals are scattered around it.
Players should stand in a loose circle around the Ark and the animals.
One player is chosen to go first and must hold the drawstring bag of chips.

Play: Each player, in turn, must decide whether to help build the Ark, hunt for an animal or place an animal in the Ark.
Building the Ark – Without looking, reach into the bag and pull out a chip.
· A Green chip is a stall, which allows any one mammal to be placed in the Ark.
· A Yellow chip is an aviary, which allows any one bird to be placed in the Ark.
· A Red chip is a cage, which allows any one reptile to be placed in the Ark.
· A Blue chip is a flood warning.
After drawing a Green, Yellow or Red chip, approach the Ark and drop it in.
After drawing a Blue chip, yell "The Flood Is Coming!" When players hear this, they should try to throw whatever animals they are holding into the Ark. Players must remain in the circle while tossing the animals. Any animals that "miss the boat", must stay there until hunters retrieve them later. Return the Blue chip to the bag. As the game progresses, the Blue chip will be pulled out more frequently, because the Ark will have more vacancies (which are chips waiting to be replaced with animals.)

Hunt for an Animal – Run toward the scattered animals and grab one. Try to get one that already has a mate on board. It's okay to peek into the Ark! After all, you have your orders!

Place an Animal in the Ark – If you think that there is room in the Ark for one of your animals, announce that you are placing it there. There is room if a chip of the proper color is in the Ark. There is also room if your animal's mate is already on board (they'll share living quarters). Approach the Ark, drop your animal in, remove the appropriate chip and return it to the bag. If you discover that the required chip is missing or that the mate is not on board, you must take the animal out and end your turn. (To save time, other players may point out the fact that a mate is not on board.)

After completing your turn, return to your place in the circle and pass the bag to the player on your left.

Victory: The game is over when all of the animals are on board, or when everyone gets tired of playing.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #2 - Barnyard Rush
by jord
Ages: 6 and up

A storm is brewing and the race is on to get the animals into the barn! Barnyard Rush is a race between two players to get all their animals to safety before the storm hits.


32 square tiles (2" x 2") - 16 mud puddle tiles, and 16 grass tiles
6 Animal Miniatures (3 each of 2 species)
2 pasture tiles (start locations - 4" x 2")
1 barn tile (finish location 4" x 2")

Spread out the square tiles, face down. Players alternate drawing and placing one tile at a time to form a 4x4 game board. In the middle of one side of the board, place the barn tile. Opposite the barn, place the two pastures, and each player places his or her animals on their pasture.

<br />
Eg:<br />
               ***********<br />
               *  BARN   *<br />
               *   TILE  *<br />
          *********************<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *********************<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *********************<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *********************<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *    *    *    *    *<br />
          *********************<br />
          * Pasture * Pasture *<br />
          *    One  *    Two  *<br />
          *********************<br />

On his/her turn, a player may either move one of their animals, or draw a new tile and place it on any unoccupied tile. Animals move one space per turn, and may not enter a mud puddle tile or a tile occupied by another animal. Animals may not move diagonnaly. There is no limit as to how many tiles may be stacked on top of one another.

The winner is the first player to get all three of their animals into the barn. If neither player is able to move an animal or draw a tile, the winner is the player with the most animals in the barn.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #3 - Habitat
by grayscale
Ages: 8 and up

The idea behind Habitat is to use block construction as a metaphor for ecology, or ecology as a metaphor for construction. Either way, it's about the tension between stability and chaos.

The pieces in Habitat are 3d blocks in various shapes. There are two main types: resources and species. Resources are generally flat square pieces. Organisms are more varied in shape, and representational, like an elephant piece is kind of big and blocky, a tree piece is kind of tall with a stable base, etc. The organism pieces come in several colors, and each color represents an ecosystem.

The tricky bit is, the pieces in one color all "fit well" together, like all the red pieces have a surface with the same curve, so it's easy to stack the red pieces together and build structures with them. But if you have a mix of red, green, and blue pieces it's harder to create stable structures. It's not clear to me yet how to design a set of pieces like that. I've got some vague ideas, but it's going to take some experimentation to see if any of it's workable.

The game starts with all players taking a habitat stand, a bunch of resources, and a set of pieces of one color and putting as many pieces as they can on the habitat. The habitat stands are basically just a frame with some variations to keep it from being too symmetrical. You generally need to lay resources on the habitat to make stable platforms to place the organism pieces. The habitat stands are not very large, it's supposed to be hard to put all the pieces on a habitat. Any pieces you can't fit are removed from the game. You get a slight penalty for pieces you lose, to help keep the game crowded.

Each player then takes an Ark piece. The Ark piece is what you use to carry pieces around. You hold the Ark by the bottom, and pieces are carried on the top. The Ark has a small top, so carrying more than a few pieces needs some dexterity. Any pieces that fall off your Ark are removed from the game. The Ark doesn't have a stable base, so you can't set it down without losing the pieces on it.

Each turn, you move to the habitat on your left. The first thing you do is take a piece from that habitat and hand it to the player on your left. And that player must do something with that piece, either add it to the habitat in front of him, or add it to his Ark. This resembles unplanned migration, like animals hitching a ride on ships and becoming a problem in a new habitat.

During your turn, you move pieces between the habitat and your Ark in some way. I'd like it to be pretty arbitrary, like everyone simultaneously doing whatever they like for a minute, but it might have to be more limited than that. In any case, pieces must stay on your Ark or on the Habitat, except for the piece that you're moving with your free hand. Any that fall are removed from the game.

The goal of the game is to end up with the "best" habitat. I don't really know what the ending condition is going to be yet. I think it's something about "people" pieces that are mixed in with the organisms. The people pieces start scattered, they can be moved by any player, and when the game is over, you score points for the habitats that your people are in. I don't know how habitats are scored either. The tricky bit is finding something simple that 8yos can do but isn't too simple that adults would get bored with it. The idea I'm starting with is to give each piece a value, and the habitat is scored as the sum of the pieces on it. But that doesn't really feel right, because I want the game to have a feeling of "trying to build a civilization when the habitats are usually on the verge of collapse". Maybe if I make a set of pieces and play with them a bit, I'll think of something.

For me, "must make use of 3D miniature animals" is the interesting constraint in this challenge On the one hand, it seems kind of boring to use animal miniatures as specialized pawns. On the other hand, if they can't be replaced with pawns, I can't easily test ideas.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #4 - Ketchikan
by Hamumu
Ages: 8 and up

The Tlingit people are a native tribe in southern Alaska, known for their ornate woodcarving. As a Tlingit carver, bring honor to your clan by carving the totem poles the spirits ask of you!

Players: 2-5
Time: 30 minutes
Ages: 8-adult


15 Animal Totems (red, brown, and black totems of Bear, Raven, Frog, Beaver, and Salmon)
5 Spirit Guides (transparent plastic versions of the 5 animals)
50 Quest cards
50 Shaman cards

(Sample Totem – Stained wood, with a peg and hole so they can stack)


Take all the Totems and stack them randomly into 3 Totem Poles of 5 Totems each. Each player selects a Spirit Guide. Please, let the younger people pick first!
Shuffle both decks of cards. Each player draws 3 Shaman cards to hold in their hand. Play begins with the youngest player.


1 - Draw new Quest cards to get up to 2 (3 in a 2 or 3-player game). Quest cards are kept face-up in front of you.

2 - Take a stack of any number of Totems from the top of any Pole and move them to the top of another Pole, without changing their order. If there are less than 5 Poles, you may start a new one instead of putting it on an existing one.

3 - Claim Quests if possible. See Claiming A Quest below. Once someone claims 10 Quests, they win!

4 – If you have more than one Spirit Guide at this point, return them to the other players. Give any Spirit Guide to any player, so long as everybody is left with one Spirit Guide at the end of your turn. Play proceeds to the left!

Claiming A Quest

To claim a Quest, if its conditions are met, just take the Quest card and lay it face down by you. You may claim any number of Quests per turn.

There are 3 types of Quests:

The first kind is a specific complete Totem Pole.
The second kind is a Totem Pole in specific colors (the Totems may be of any type).
The last kind lists a set of Totems which must be on top of Poles. The order and height of the Poles doesn’t matter.
In any Quest, if you see a tri-colored Animal, that means any color counts.

Your Spirit Guide may help you to claim a Quest. Place it temporarily on top of any existing Pole and count it as any color, if that will claim a Quest for you.
You may claim the Quests of any player. Claim them as normal, but you also get to take their Spirit Guide! While you have it, you may continue claiming Quests with the help of both Spirit Guides, and of course may collect even more Spirit Guides from other players in this fashion.
If you claim a Quest without the help of any Spirit Guides, you may draw a Shaman card to add to your hand. You may not draw if you already have 5 Shaman cards.

Shaman Cards

When Shaman cards are played, they are discarded. They are:

(5) Trickster Raven – Play when someone plays any Shaman card. Discard both cards without any effect.
(15) Carving Beaver – Play at the beginning of your turn to move stacks twice.
(3) Guardian Bear – Play at the beginning of your turn, leaving it face up by your Quests. As long as it is there, nobody but you can claim your Quests. Discard it once you claim one of them.
(10) Frozen River – Play before an opponent’s turn. He is skipped.
(5) Spirit Dance – Play at the beginning of your turn. Trade your Spirit Guide with any other (including ones that aren’t in play).
(2) Selfish Owl – If a player has selfishly claimed at least as many Quests as there are players in one turn, play this card. It forces them to give one Quest to each other player.
(5) Wild Animals – Play at the beginning of your turn. All animals that match a Spirit Guide you hold this turn can be considered any color.
(5) Very Wild Animals - Play at the beginning of your turn. All animals that match a Spirit Guide you hold this turn can be considered to be any animal.


Simple Game - To make it easier for young kids, remove all Shaman cards and Spirit Guides, making it simply a game of matching the Totem Poles to the Quests. You can make it simpler still by removing all Quests except the exact Totem ones.

Handicap – To handicap older people, say that they no longer believe in spirits, and so they get a Spirit Guide which younger players can take from them, but they can’t use themselves.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #5 - Bug Collecting
by Shifty Pickles
Ages: 6 and up

Your creepy science teacher has assigned the class a bug collection for homework. In order to impress her and score some extra credit you need to be the first entomologist to complete your bug collection.


4 3D ENVIRONMENTS each has designated sticky spots that hold the feet of specific types of insects. The 4 environments are:

GARBAGE HEAP: Lovely piles of rotting refuse. The garbage heap has spaces for 1 grasshopper, 2 flies, 1 beetle, 1 stink-bug and 1 lady-bug, 1 bee

MEADOW- A beautiful field of flowers and grass. The meadow has places for 2 butterflies, 1 bee, 1 grasshopper, 1 lady-bug, 1 stink-bug, and 1 fly

VEGGIE PATCH – A garden of ripe veggies. The patch has places for 2 lady-bugs, 1 beetle, 1 stink-bug, 1 bee, 1 butterfly and 2 grasshoppers

FOREST- Lush greenery and rotting logs. The forest has places for 2 beetles, 1 fly, 1 stink bug, 1 butterfly and 1 bee

4 COLLECTING NETs to hold 1 each of the 7 insects

4 EACH OF 7 MODEL INSECTS: lady-bugs, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, stink bugs, bumble-bees, and flies.


THE EGG: Insects and spider are stored in the egg, a cylindrical container with a small opening which insects can be shaken out of, until brought into play

8 SIDED DIE: 3 sides labeled HATCH! 2 sides labeled NAB!, 1 labeled SLITHER!, 1 labeled SWAP, and one with a picture of a frog labeled GULP!


Each player grabs a Net. This net will remain theirs for the entire game.

Each player selects one environment and places it in front of them. this becomes “their environment”. As the game is played environments and players will change positions. The environment currently in front of any player is always “their environment”.

Each player then shakes one insect from the EGG and places it in the appropriate place on their environment. During this initial draw only, if a player shakes out an unplayable insect or the spider it should be returned to the egg and another, playable insect chosen.

The player who has the grossest bug story takes the first turn.

At each turn the player rolls the die and play proceeds as follows:


HATCH is rolled: The player shakes the egg until 1 insect falls out. If they have a space for that insect on their environment they may play it there, if they have no appropriate ecological niche then they must choose the environment of another player who has the appropriate space and play the insect there.

NAB is rolled: A player may use their net to collect one insect from their environment. Each net has space for only 1 sample of each species, (a player may not collect 2 bees for example) If a player has no collectable insect in their environment then play passes to the next player

SWAP is rolled: The player must trade environments with another player of their choice.

SCURRY is rolled: All players grab their nets and crawl to the seat of the player opposite them doing their best insect impression.

GULP is rolled: A hungry frog has hopped into the room. All players must quickly grab their nets and hold them above their heads. The slowest player gets caught by the frog and must choose 1 insect from their net to return to the egg (unless they are in possession of the Spider, see spider rules below).

When the spider is shaken from the egg it takes up permanent residence on the environment currently in front of the player who shook it out. The spider will travel with the environment when it is swapped. Whenever a player is in possession of the spider environment the extra collecting prowess of the spider’s web allows them to collect an insect from any player's environment when they roll a NAB.
Spiders, however, are particularly tasty. Therefore, if a player in possession of the spider gets caught by the GULP then the spider is automatically eaten by the frog and must be returned to the egg.

Winning the game:
The first player to fill their net by collecting all 7 types of insects wins the game.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

by doho123
Ages: 4 or 5 and up

A small inflatable pool filled with colored inflatable animals (say, 10 different types of animals) where each animal is roughly about 6 or 7 inches in size. A bag with small miniature animals that matches the inflatable animal shapes.

To create the tallest stack of inflatable animals without it tipping over. A stack consists of a single stack of animals, one on top of the other.

How to Play:
Each player has a defined “play area” to build their stack which are all roughly the same distance away from the central pool of animals. One player reaches into the bag and pulls out two random animals. All other players then race to the pool, and find one of each of the drawn animals. Taking the animals back to their area, they must stack the inflatable animals building on their stack from previous turns.

Any player who’s stack falls over must place all of their animals back into the pool and is out of the game.

The player who finished stacking their new animals first is given the bag to randomly select the animals for the next round. When it is down to two players, they take turns drawing the animals from the bag, and building their stacks.

The last player to have their stack tip over is the winner.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #7 - The Circle of Life
by Scurra
Ages: 5 and up

There are twenty-four chunky wooden sculpted animal pieces showing five different African animals. Each animal is on a base of a different number of squares, these squares being the same size as the spaces on the gridded board. In addition, the bases are shaded in one of four different colors.

Monkey (1 square) (8 in total, 2 of each color base)
Hyena (2 squares) (4 in total, 1 of each color base)
Lion (3 squares in a line) (4 in total, 1 of each color base)
Wildebeest (3 squares around a corner) (4 in total, 1 of each color base)
Hippo (4 square – 2x2) (2 in total, each has two colors on two squares)

The board shows the African savannah, with a waterhole and a forest border (and probably the odd tree as well – indeed, I could imagine a physical tree piece that could be placed on the board to vary the layout from game to game, although this might pose health and safety issues.) The board is double sided, with a 6x6 grid overlaid on one side, and an 8x8 grid on the other.

Basic game (played on the 6x6 board):
Players take it in turns to place an animal on the board until the grid is full. It is pretty obvious that none of the pieces can overlap, although the 3-corner piece might be tricky for small children to use effectively.
The last player to place an animal on the board wins.

Once the players have grasped the central principles involved, various limitations can be introduced, singly or in combination. Some examples of these limitations might be:

- Players cannot place the same animal their opponent placed.
- Players cannot place the same type of animal next to each other.
- Base colours cannot be directly adjacent.
- Animals can’t be placed in inappropriate places (Hippo must be by the water pool, Monkeys must be next to the tree, other animals can’t be in the tree etc.)
- Certain animals can never be adjacent (Lion and Wildebeest / Monkey and Hippo)

Advanced game (played on the 8x8 board):
After placing an animal on the board, the player must move another animal to a different location with no spaces in common with its previous position. The last player to be able to both place an animal and move one wins. Note that any, all or none of the restrictions suggested above may be used in this version of the game as well.

I would project that this game could be played by relatively young children (5?), as the basic game is pretty elementary. But adding the various restrictions should ensure that it remains a challenge as they get older. Players are learning about tiling, adjacency and efficient use of space, but they are also learning about animal habitats and interactions (obviously somewhat superficially, but you can’t have everything.)

In theory this could be played by multiple players, but I suspect it’s only a two-player game at heart. The various possible placement restrictions do allow for considerable handicapping potential. [Readers may realise from the title that there could be some sort of Disney tie-in for this one. In my dreams.]

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #8 - Farm Team
by Kreitler
Ages: 5 to 7

The Farm Team Playset consists of a variety of farm-themed toys that can be used together for free play or guided activities (suggested in the accompanying manual). The centerpiece of this collection is "Farm Team" -- a cooperative game for 3-5 children ages 5-7.

Playset components:
One 4m x 4m plastic drop-sheet activity mat.
One "bushel basket" containing 30 miniature animals (mostly farm animals, some fish and birds, and a few exotic animals like crocodiles and elephants).
One deck of 20 Farm Team activity cards (not to be confused with the "guided activities" found in the instruction manual).
One small 3-minute sand timer (shaped like a grain silo).
One large 35 minute timer (shaped like a *large* grain silo).
Four 25 cm inflatable cubes, which, when stacked together, form 6 different scenes depending on the arrangement of their faces.
Four washable plush "geo-shapes", 15-20 cm wide (ball, cube, tetrahedron, and torus).
One instruction manual.

The back of the activity mat is printed with an illustrated countryside with roads, farms, a lake, mountains, small town, etc, all scaled to fit the with miniature animals. This is used for free play and some of the guided activities.

The front of the activity mat is divided into a 5x5 grid of colored squares (blue, yellow, green and red) over which a simple farm scene is drawn in black line art. The scene: a brook runs from the upper right to the lower left, terminating in a small pond. All water squares (6 total) are blue. 5 of the lower right squares are wheat and corn fields (yellow); one contains a tractor (red). 5 of the upper left squares are red (farmhouse, silo, etc) except for one yellow square containing the sun. The remaining squares are green (grassland and forest).

Farm Team Game
Players try to complete physical objectives while constrained to behave like animals. Players take turns acting as the "Farmer" who makes decisions for the group and tries to coach them during play. The team has 3 minutes to finish each activity. The team wins if they complete 10 activities before the 30-minute timer runs out.

Basic Play
Randomly select 10 activity cards and shuffle them.
Mix the animals in the bucket.
Start the 35-minute timer.

The oldest child starts as the Farmer.

The Farmer draws an Activity card and reads it out loud, performing the described setup.

The Farmer starts the 3-minute timer.

The "farm team" must complete the activity described before time runs out. If they succeed, the Farmer discards the Activity card. Otherwise, the Farmer places the Activity card at the bottom of the Activity deck (to be tried later if time allows).

A new child becomes the Farmer and the next turn takes place.

The game ends when the children complete all Activities or the 35-minute timer expires.

The following rules apply to *every* activity:

If an activity uses geo-shapes, every animal player must touch a geo-shape during the activity.

"Animal players" (i.e., everybody but the Farmer) must obey the restrictions of their animals.

Horse: must move on all fours. Cannot use hands. Must carry items on back.
Fish: must move on belly. Fold hands over heart and point elbows out from body like fins. Cannot use hands. Must stay on blue squares.
Frog: must move by hopping on all fours. Can use hands to grab objects, but only while in mid-air.

Only the Farmer may talk. Animal players must make noises appropriate for their animal. Any body language is OK as long as it’s “animal appropriate”.

Fill the Silo: stack 3 inflatable cubes into a tower on the "silo" square (see Activity Mat).
Farmer: place any 3 geo-shapes in the yellow fields.
Farmer: pick 1 player to be a Frog. Draw the other animals and give them to the players.
Animal players: get the geo-shapes from the fields to the top of the silo.

Swimming Upstream: all animal players are fish.
Farmer: give 1 geo-shape to each player.
Animal players: push your geo-shape from the pond to the end of the stream.

Stampede: place 1 inflatable block on the left square in each row on the mat.
Farmer: Draw animals and give them to the players.
Animal players: push/roll the blocks all the way to the right, then all the way back to the left.

Age range: given above.
Physically engaging: complete physical tasks.
Animal miniatures: could be cards or dice in the game, but are miniatures to add play value to the set.
Players make decisions: the Farmer makes many explicit decisions. Implicitly, animal players make many “physical decisions”.
Market appropriate: should be appropriate for kids of any age.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #9 - Safari Party
by Dwight Sullivan (aka "Xaqery") and Mark Galvez
Age: 5 to 9

This is a block stacking game.

Players: 2 to 6
Age range: 5 to 9
Game time: 10 to 15 minutes

Howie’s Small Party
One day, Howie the hippo decided to have a small party for some of his friends at the zoo. So he called his other hippo friends, Lucy, Fred, Ethel, Sam, Bill, and Marietta.

Marietta asked if she could invite a couple of her friends. Howie said sure a couple more couldn’t hurt. So she called her Elephant friends Frank, George, Sean, Matt, Marry, and Susan.

Susan then asked if she could invite a couple of her friends and Marietta said sure a couple more couldn’t hurt. So she called her Giraffe friends Tom, Mark, Nancy, Dean, and Bob.

Bob then asked if he could invite a couple of his friends and Susan said sure a couple more couldn’t hurt. So he called his Monkey friends James, Jack, David, Brian, Max, Tory, Nick, Rob, and Morgan.

Boy was Howie surprised when everyone showed up!

6” X 6” Board
18 Elephant blocks
18 Hippo blocks
18 Giraffe blocks
30 Monkey blocks
Buzzer (small 12 second timer that buzzes when the time is up)

Please see the pictures of the Animals and the Game Board

Place the board in center on a flat steady surface.

Place the buzzer near the board.

Give each player: 3 Elephant blocks, 3 Hippo blocks, 3 Giraffe blocks, and 5 Monkey blocks.

The youngest player goes first and then play continues to the left.

Each Turn:
On your turn choose one of your animals then start the Buzzer.

You have to add the animal anywhere on the board or on other animals.

You can place it any way you want as long as it stays on the board or the other animals. No animal can touch the table.

You can only touch your own animals. You can not push or move the other animals.

If the Stack falls and one or more animals touch the table during your turn then that your are out and the remaining players have to start a new round.

If the Buzzer goes off that you have to end your turn and it’s the next players turn.

If you are playing your last piece you have to cry out “Safari Party”. Otherwise it’s the next players turn.

If it is your turn and you have no more pieces to play you win!


If you are the last player in the game you win!

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #10 - Surprise Party for Sleepy Bear
by yogurt
Ages: 6

The animals are throwing Sleepy Bear a surprise party. But Sleepy Bear still hasn't gotten out of bed yet, so the animals must build the party around him, hiding every time he stirs!

A cooperative game for 3-6 six-year-olds.


Playing Mat
A large mat portrays Sleepy Bear's one-room house. This is decorative.

Animal Figurines
The animals are realistic but dressed, like Beatrix Potter characters. There are two bunnies, two raccoons, a toad, a duck, and a mole.

Hidey Cups
Plastic cups decorated with stickers of couches and other home furnishings. The animals will hide under the cups. Some cups are bigger than others.

Custom Dice
Each player has a jumble of six-sided dice. Only two random sides are used on each die.

One side always has an animal type: bunny, raccoon, toad, etc.

The other side always has a party supply: cake, music, gift, chairs and doors. (Doors represent arrivals, as we'll see below.)

Each player has a round-bottomed bin for dice.

Sleepy Bear timer
Sleepy Bear is a squishy transluscent pajama-clad bear. Squeeze him and an LED inside him slowly flashes different colours, accelerates, then stops. (I bought something similar for $2.99. Any cute timer will do.)

Party Cards
Each card shows five random party supplies. For example: cake, chair, cake, music, music.


The players must find the party supplies needed to make the surprise party a success. But if Sleepy Bear starts to wake up, they'll need to hide the animals and all the party supplies they've found so far.

Players will simultaneously search through their bins, hide items under cups, and pass items left and right. All under the time pressure of a flashing bear!


Place all the animals outside the house.

Place a bin in front of each player. Roughly divide the dice between each bin.


Starting a Round

Turn over two Party Cards. These are the party supplies the players will need to find as a group.

Everyone stirs their dice.

Squeeze Sleepy Bear to start the timer.

Players may now root through their bins looking for useful dice.

Adding an Animal

If you find a die with an animal and a door, you can bring that animal inside the house and set it in front of you.

You can have more than one animal in front of you. If you have too many animals to manage, you can pass an animal to someone else (see below).

Finding a Party Supply Yourself

When you have an animal in front of you, you can take any party supply die from your bin with that animal's symbol on it.

Announce what party supply you've found and put it under a hidey cup.

Finding a Party Supply for Someone Else

If you find a supply the party needs, but someone else has the necessary animal, you can pass them the die or ask them to pass you the animal. (See below.)

Passing Dice or Animals

You can only pass dice and animals to the person beside you, so if you're not sitting next to the person who needs your item, you'll have to pass it from person to person.

You must place the item in another person's hand. You can't put it on the table to picked up later. If your neighbour is busy, you'll have to wait. Jump up and down to show how excited you are.


When Sleepy Bear starts flashing quickly, it's time to hide.

Everyone works together to put the animals and party dice under the cups. Some cups may fit more than one item.

Sleepy Bear awakes

When Sleepy Bear stops flashing:

Put animals who are not completely hidden under cups outside the house. They dove out a window at the last second.

Put party supply dice that are not completely hidden back in a bin. It doesn't matter whose.

Sleepy Bear now goes back to bed. Lift up the hidey cups to see what the group found.

If you have all the party supplies on a single Party Card, turn that card over. Put the matching dice back in any bin.

If you accidentally have dice that don't match any Party Card, or if you have too many of one type of party supply, put the extras back in any bin.

You're ready to start another round.


If the players complete six Party Cards and have all 7 animals in the house, everyone shouts "Surprise, Sleepy Bear!" You win!


To make the game harder for older players, you can turn over different amounts of Party Cards. If you want to make it possible to lose, set a limit to how many times Sleepy Bear can go back to bed.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #11 - The Matching-Matching-Matching Game
by jhager
Ages: 3 and up

This game can be played with 1 to 3 players. The game is appropriate for children aged 3 and up. It should help the children learn how to identify shapes and colors; how to take turns; how to thinking about an object in two different ways, which may help with lateral thinking; how to win and loose; and how decisions affect future choices.


* 6 wooden animals (in 6 different colors)
* A Bag
* 36 cards (in 6 different colors with silhouettes of the 6 different animals)

Rules of Play

This is a cooperative game, all the players win or all the players lose. This is important because your young child will mimic your attitude when you win or lose.

The goal is to chain together all the cards in 6 or less chains. The game has been designed so that it will be won more than lost.

It is best to start by playing the 2 or 3 player game with your child. Place the 6 wooden animals in the bag and give each player 3 cards. The remaining cards are placed face down in a stack.

The youngest player starts the first chain by drawing an animal from the bag. The player plays a card that is the same shape or color of the animal and draws a new card. When playing a card that matches a player may proudly declare “match”, “matching”, “matches”, or indicate the color that matches, or when the animal matches make the noise the animal makes. Be silly and have fun. If a player cannot play one of their cards, the player must pass. Play continues around the table. If no one can play a card then a new animal is drawn and another chain is begun.

The game is lost if no one can play a card and all 6 animals are used. The game is won if all 36 cards are played.

Rules for Solitaire and Competitive Play

For a solitaire game a player should use 4 cards.

If you wish to engage in a competitive game, use the following rules. Each player gets a deck of 36 cards. A player may have up to 4 cards in their hand. A chain is started and there is no turn order. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins. There is no winner if neither player gets rid of all their cards.

Designer Notes

Not surprisingly, my two and a half year old son has taken an interest in games. He has recently started pointing out that his green crayon and a green object “match”. This game was designed for him with this contest in mind. He requires a little bit of help while playing, but it is cooperative so an open hand doesn’t break the game.

I have attempted to make the game easy to win because winning is more fun than loosing. I choose 3 cards because he can hold them in his small hands and occasionally has a choice of what card to play.

The competitive game has not been play tested. It is a specialized form of the card game speed but is playable by young children that do not know the numbers or the script that represent numbers.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #12 - Lost in the Fog
by Kefa
Ages: 8 and up

A children game for two players.
Age 8

At the Rula-Coola Zoo on a misty day, the Hayans, a family of albino gorillas, have forgot the way to come back to their cages. The Schwarz, another gorilla’s family, are still looking for their friends. They don’t know but they hamper each other. They’re lost in the fog.

Game material

36 cards (12 starting cards with opened cage on the front, 6 of Hayans family and 6 of Schwarz family; both numbered 1 to 6. 24 misty cards)
12 3D gorilla’s miniatures (6 whites and 6 blacks, all of different shape and numbered 1 to 6)

Goal of the game

Take this big animals by the hand and be the first to make a chain of gorillas and reach one of the opposite opened cage.

Set up

The older player places the twenty-four misty cards face up to form four rows of six cards each. After choosing their own gorilla’s family, and taking the respective miniatures, the players place the six numbered starting cards of the opposite family attached to the misty cards row next to them in the order they prefer and put the gorillas on the correspondent numbered card.


Albino gorillas (whites) move first and then payers alternate moves. On each turn players have to move two of their gorillas. The first gorilla move on two empty cards and the second one move only on one empty card, not strictly in this order.

The biggest gorillas (numbers 1) and the smallest ones (numbers 6) can move in any direction and they can change it when move on two cards.

The other gorillas (numbers 2,3,4 and 5) can move only forward, backward, to the left and to the right.

When a bigger gorilla finishes in front of an opposite smaller one, the smaller goes backward to the adjacent empty card.

When the biggest gorilla finishes in front of the opposite smallest one, the biggest jumps over the smallest to the adjacent empty card beyond it.

When the smallest gorilla finishes in front of the opposite biggest one, the biggest goes backward to its starting card.
Is not possible move gorillas along the starting cards row and is not possible put two gorillas on the same card.

The chain have to be formed by six gorillas placed on six adjacent cards joining the two starting row cards. Remember that one gorilla is necessarily anchored to its starting card (with the opened cage of the opposite family) and another must have the same number of the opposite starting card (with the opened cage of its on family). The other four gorillas take each other by the hand in the mist.

End of the game
The first player who makes a gorilla’s family chain wins the game.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #13 - Animal Parade
by buthrukaur
Ages: 4 and up

2-6 players

Animal Parade is a game that grows with your children. The game becomes more complex as the players age. The age ranges of the game are as follows:
Scranimals: 4-6
Zoo-Parade: 5-10
Animal-Pit: 10+


60 Card deck (Hind-quarters, Mid-section & head of 20 animals)

27 Point tiles (1x9, 2x12, 3x6)

20 Animal miniatures matching the 20 animals made by the cards

Scranimals: put various mixed creatures together by matching shapes, colors or patterns. Winners and losers not recommended.

Zoo-Parade: put animals together and score the tokens the animal is currently on. Most points wins.

Animal-Pit: trade animal parts to score points. Most points wins.

Each card 4 values:
Shape (circle, triangle or square)
Pattern (spot, stripe, or patches)
2 colors

Scranimals: deal each player 5 cards and set tiles in stacks by value. The board is not needed in this game.
Zoo-Parade: Place the tiles in their respective spots around the board 3 tiles on each spot. Then take the animal head cards and shuffle. Starting with the red space draw the top head card and place matching mini on the tile moving clockwise until each tile has 2 animals. Place the last 2 on the 3 tile spaces. Shuffle the head cards back into the deck and deal each player 5 cards.
Animal-Pit: Setup just like Zoo-Parade except deal the entire deck out.

Scranimals: Players take turns drawing the top card from the deck and discarding a card. Players are attempting to for a set of three cards (Hind:Mid:Head) by connecting the cards by a common pattern or shape. If the cards are all from different animals the player receives 1 point. If two are the same 2 points and three same is worth 3 points (taking the tile from the appropriate stack.) Then sets are discarded and the player then draws 3 new cards. Reshuffle the deck as needed. Game ends when one of the stacks is empty.
Teaches: Shapes, patterns, counting, colors, matching.

Zoo-Parade: Players take turns drawing a card from the deck or the board. If the card is drawn from the board the play may pick up any stack on the board and take one card, then replace the stack where he got it. Then if he has a set of card (all three cards matching in colors, shape and pattern) he can discard them to the side of the board and score the animal. Take that animal from the tile and the top tile that the animal was on. He then draws the top three cards from the deck.

If he does not have a complete set he must discard a card face down to the space on the board that matches either the pattern or shape. When he discards the card he must announce one of the colors on the card. After discarding, he must advance one of the animals from one of the tiles to another tile with the restriction that there cannot be more animals on a space then there are tiles. Play proceeds to the next player. The game ends when the deck runs out of cards. Player with the most points in tiles wins.
Teaches: animals, shapes, colors, matching, addition

Animal-Pit: In Animal-pit the players can negotiate trades by holding one to three cards out from their hand and announcing a single trait on all of the cards. When two players agree on a trade based on the one trait they may exchange cards then move 2 animals on the tiles by the same rules as Zoo-Parade. Whenever a player completes a set he announces the name of the animal stopping play. He removes the animal and the scoring tile from the board and play continues. The game ends when any player has less then 4 cards. Players may not trade in such a manner that they would end up with less then 4 cards. The game must end with a player playing a set. Player with the most points wins.
Teaches: negotiation, tactics.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

Entry #14 - Noah Zark
by OutsideLime
Ages: 6 and up

A game for 2-6 players aged 6-adult

Through the endless reaches of space travel the starships of the gentle and curious beings known as Zarks. Zarks move from planet to planet, avoiding all intelligent life and capturing two of each animal that they find there. After the animals are catalogued and studied, they are released unharmed back to their homes. The Zarks’ endless mission: To record all of the animal life in the universe!

We join the starship of the wise Captain Noah as it has completed one half of its mission on this particular planet. One of each of the animal species on the planet has been captured, and it is now Noah Zark’s job to guide his crew in the discovery and capture of the second animal for each pair….

You play the part of a crewmember on Noah Zark’s starship. Noah operates the Find-O-Scope, a powerful telescope that reveals animals on the planet surface one component at a time. You and the other players are responsible for capturing the animals once they’ve been fully revealed. Your object: Be the first Zark to capture 6 of the animals on the planet!

1 gameboard

1 Deck of 64 Animal Cards

1 Deck of 40 Gadget Cards
60 3D plastic Animal components (12 different types, 5 of each type)

Setting Up

Deal 6 Animal Cards to each player, and set aside the remainder. Deal 2 Gadget Cards to each player and place the remainder face-down in the Gadget Deck space on the gameboard. Each player keeps their Animal and Gadget Cards secret in their hand.
Put the animal components in a stockpile where everyone can reach and see them.

Decide fairly who goes first. Play goes clockwise around the table.


There are four steps to your turn.

1. Spin the Find-O-Scope. The result of the spin will be Legs, Body, or Head. This tells you what category of animal component Noah has spotted. There are 4 different types of Legs, Bodies, and Heads. Here they are:

2. Choose a component from the proper category and use it to build an animal.
• LEGS building rules: Legs must go into one of the empty spaces on the gameboard.
• BODIES building rules: Bodies must be connected to LEGS that are already on the gameboard (that don’t already have a Body connected to them.)
• HEAD building rules: Heads must be connected to BODIES that are already on the gameboard (that don’t already have a Head connected to them.)
••• If there is no place for the component you’ve selected, return it to the stockpile and go to the next step.

3. Draw a Gadget Card from the deck OR Play a Gadget Card. One or the other, not both.

a) Draw a Gadget Card from the Gadget Deck and add it to your hand. If the Deck is exhausted, shuffle the Gadget Discard pile and use it as a new Gadget Deck.


b) Play a Gadget Card. Read and follow the instructions on the card, then put it into the Gadget Discard pile.

4. Capture an animal. Any player that has an Animal Card (either in their hand or face-up on the table) that matches a complete animal may Capture that animal. Since no two Animal Cards are the same, there will never be any arguments over this.
a) A complete animal is one that is composed of an assembled set on the gameboard of Legs, Body, and Head.
b) When you capture an animal, lay the Animal Card face-up in front of you… it’s worth 1 point towards your goal of 6. Capturing an animal you’ve captured already does not earn you any extra points.
c) Disassemble the components of the captured animal and return them to the stockpile.

How To Win

Victory is yours if you are the first player to capture all 6 of the animals shown on your Animal Cards! Excellent work, Zark!

Some Sample Gadget Cards.

Time Flexer – Start your turn over again, but don’t undo anything you just did.
Scope Scrambler – Remove 1 animal component from anywhere on the gameboard and return it to the stockpile. The component removed must be the most recent one that was added to that animal.
Ditch-a-tron 5000 – Discard one of your Animal Cards and draw a new one from the top of the Animal Cards Deck.
Super Sight – Take a component of your choice from the stockpile. The next time anyone spins that category, you may add your component to an animal BEFORE that player has a chance to.
Grabber Jammer – Place this card face-up on the starship. No one may capture an animal until your NEXT turn.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game Design Showdown Sept 2005: "Kiddie Zoo"

This Challenge is now completed, with another collection of interesting designs.

Based upon the votes that were PM'd to me, we have the following results ...

First Place (25 points -- 4 #1's, 1 #2, 2 #3's) -- Bug Collecting by Shifty Pickles (Entry #5)

Second Place (21 points -- 3 #1's, 2 #2's) -- Noah's Ark by Challengers (Entry #1)

Third Place (18 points -- 1 #1, 4 #2's, 1 #3) -- Ketchikan by Hamumu (Entry #4)

The rest of the scoring went as follows ...

  • Noah Zark by OutsideLime (Entry #14) -- 14 points (2 #1's, 1 #2, 1 #3)
  • Safari Party by Dwight Sullivan (Xaqery) and Mark Galvez (Entry #9) -- 13 points (1 #1, 2 #2's, 2 #3's)
  • Surprise Party for Sleepy Bear by yogurt (Entry #10) -- 10 points (1 #1, 1 #2, 2 #3's)
  • The Circle of Life by Scurra (Entry #7) -- 9 points (1 #1, 1 #2, 1 #3)
  • The Matching-Matching-Matching Game by jhager (Entry #11) -- 4 points (1 #2, 1 #3)
3 games each received 1 3rd-place vote:
  • STACKANIMALS! by doho123 (Entry #6)
  • Farm Team by Kreitler (Entry #8)
  • Animal Parade by buthrukaur (Entry #13)
3 games received no votes:
  • Barnyard Rush by jord (Entry #2)
  • Habitat by grayscale (Entry #3)
  • Lost in the Fog by Kefa (Entry #12)

You can continue the discussion about this Challenge within the critiques thread, found here:


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