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When arranging plans for Christmas Day, I was keen to find a game that was both suitable for children and has some longevity to it. Looking on various websites, Brainbox World was in a number of bestsellers and looked like something everybody could enjoy for the small price of £10. Overall, I was not disappointed.
Brainbox is sold as a fast and fun memory game that requires no pens, paper, pencils, playing board or even a table. Each round last about 10 seconds with all players getting involved and games can last for as long as you want them to but 10 minutes is the norm. The time was the major selling point for me as a nine year old and seven year old do not exactly have the longest concentration span.
Brainbox World contains 68 cards, each of which related to a different country with nice iconic graphics on each one of them to represent the nation. This includes flags, capitals, animals, buildings and sports. The object of the game is to get the most cards before the game is over (which is where you must decide the game length beforehand). Brainbox World is about observation and memory meaning that all players are on a level playing field so to speak.
How it works
As I’ve said, the game is essentially about memory and observation. If you’re looking for a Trivial Pursuit type question and answer game this is definitely not for you. It does state that it’s for ages eight and over but my 7 year old nephew had no problem getting to grips with it but I’ll come to age range later. Players are given 10 seconds to memorise one of the game cards about a country, studying the picture. Once the time is up, player one rolls the dice and player two will ask the question related to the dice number (questions are on the reverse of the picture card).
Player two must check the picture to ensure the answer is correct and if so, player one gets to keep the card. It is up to you as to how long you give players to answer the questions but 10 second is generally a pretty good starting point in this game. If the question is answered incorrectly it goes back into the box. After ten minutes the player with the most cards wins the game. In the event of a sudden death draw, each player picks a card and must answer all eight questions. The one who gets the most correct wins the game.
What's it like
In terms of a game, Brainbox World is good from the fact that it’s quick and easy. I am very used to playing games like Cranium, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly which can take hours. A ten minute game with no setting up can be very useful. In terms of educational impact I’m a little undecided. I played the game once with my nephews on Christmas Day and they were not entirely interested in a game where they don’t exactly have to do anything. There is not enough practical interaction for children and they were much more content playing with toys. Simple is one thing but it just wasn’t entertaining enough and after a few games does start to get quite repetitive.
As well as this, I consider myself to have a pretty decent knowledge of geography and was able to answer quite a few of the questions without looking at the card which if playing as a competitive game with a seven year old is slightly unfair. As an adult I had to almost get some answers deliberately wrong to make my nephews feel better which anybody who knows me realises how much I hate losing. On the flip side though, I did actually learn a few things whilst playing like the capital cities of some remote Asian countries. The kids did struggle a couple of times with some long words but maybe the game can be used for literacy teaching as well.
I must admit that Brainbox World is a much better option than if you were to just sit kids down and quiz them. The dice and timer do make it more fun than if they were just simply being forced to learn. However, future versions do need something extra. I’d be happy for a game to last 30 minutes if it had an element of fun to keep the kids more interested. That being said, for about £7.50 you can’t expect too much and it is very good value.
As a secondary use, Brainbox World would probably be a good teaching tool for the classroom. Children would probably respond much better to it at stood than being talked at by a teacher, at least I know that I certainly would have done. The cards are nice and bright which does keep attention for a little while amidst what is a relatively boring subject. Of course, a lot about Brainbox depends on the personality of the children as some will generally take to a game like this better than others. Everybody has favoured ways of learning.
There are a number of different games within the Brainbox range such as Maths, Nature, History and Inventions which are also constructed using the same format. It might be a good idea to combine the questions from all of these and make up your own game to avoid any repetition and learn in a number of subjects at the same type. If you want to buy these in the High Street as opposed to online they are available in retailers like WHSmith.
As a whole, I like the simple nature of Brainbox World as a bit of a break from those complex board games that take hours to set up and even longer to play, only to realise you’ve been playing it wrong for the entire time. There are definitely some learning benefits if you can get children to play at home without realising it is educational. The bright colours, dice and timer do go some way towards dealing with that problem.
Overall, I would recommend the Brainbox World game but I await to see what its longevity is. I can’t believe its one that the kids will play out of choice but is more one I would get them to play. Definitely worth buying from a value perspective though even if they don’t play it as much as you would like