You can learn a lot from board games.
You can test your dexterity with games like Flick ‘Em Up, Flipships, or Pitchcar. You can test the steadiness of your hand with Jenga or Operation. You can test your deduction skills, your memory, your trivia, your tactical ability, your pattern matching, and your luck in all sorts of games. And along the way, you can learn history, strategy, negotation, and deception.
But, according to an article sent in by a fellow puzzle fan, there’s a board game out there that teaches you the rules of the road as well.
It’s called The Driver’s Way, and in the African country of Sierra Leone, it became law that you had to purchase and play this board game to learn road safety.
The game was actually designed by the assistant inspector general of police in Sierra Leone, Morie Lengor, and he designed the game in the hopes that it would reduce the accident rate for drivers in his country.
Now, this is a pretty cool idea, and I think more skills should be taught through board games. Do detectives need to play Clue or Deception: Murder in Hong Kong in order to learn their trade? Should we have exterminators playing Mousetrap and virologists playing Pandemic?
Just imagine if a court could order someone to play Sorry until they respected the meaning of the word.
Anyway, I thought this was a weirdly fascinating factoid, so I went on the hunt for more details. There weren’t many.
The news regarding this story broke in 2013, and the vast majority of articles about the game date back to that initial media blitz. Practically all of them carry the headline “You Have to Play a Board Game Before You Can Get a Driver’s License in Sierra Leone.”
Moreover, almost all of the articles were in some way factually incorrect, because they were thirdhand or worse reports, copying and paraphrasing from another article which did the same from another article which MIGHT have linked to the original.
Recent search results (and by recent, I mean 2018, which is the latest reference I found to it) are scarce, and parrot the same information from 2013. Most articles don’t even have an actual image of the game, using any image with a road — be it The Game of Life or just one of those small town rugs from kindergarten class with roads drawn all over.
Descriptions of the game vary. Some refer to “spotlight-themed dice” and answering questions, while others compared the game to “a cross between Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, as well as Scrabble.” I have no idea what form that game would take, and I suspect the person who wrote it has even less of a clue.
I can’t find anything that verifies this became a widespread tool for driver safety. A planned global production expansion appears to have dried up quickly, and I can’t find anything on the 3000 copies of the game articles claim were already manufactured and distributed. There’s not even an entry for the game on Board Game Geek, which is an otherwise exhaustive resource of board game info.
And yes, I did go as far as to actually reach out to the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority about this, but they haven’t gotten back to me.
So, sadly, until we can find out more, we must consider this story a delightful flash-in-the-pan and not the start of a board game-learning revolution that could transform us all into Battleship-hunting, Forbidden Island-exploring, Kerplunk masters of a thousand different legally-bonded skills.
For now, anyway.
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