Fun and games – just in time for Ayyam-i-Ha!

Gems of Virtue gameHe was ready to call it a night when the wheels started turning. Bobby Picker Jr. jumped out of bed, grabbed some graph paper, and began to draw. “It was very linear when I first started, but now it’s a beautiful piece of artwork,” he said about his creation.

It’s called Gems of Virtues, a strategy board game that brings out a player’s true character, and hopefully, Picker said, teaches them about honor and integrity as well.

Picker, an engineer from Edwardsville, Ill, isn’t the only Baha’i who’s created a way for friends and family to partake in a little fun and games. And since the Baha’i season of gift-giving and hospitality, Ayyam-i-Ha, is just days away, this is welcome news.

Aaron Kreader, of Evanston, Ill, released Treasures and Traps, a high adventure card game, in 2006. It’s a game for two to six players that can be played within an hour, Kreader said.

Treasures and Traps game“You’re on a quest to get three treasures. The first one to get them wins,” he said. “But the game is full of other surprises.”

Kreader, a designer and illustrator for Brilliant Star Magazine, is a long-time fan of the Dungeons and Dragons game, but found he didn’t have time to play the intense game anymore. So, he created his own game.

In 2007 Treasures and Traps was nominated for the Origins Award best card game of the year. And, it’s been picked up by a German game company (it should be noted that many popular games in the U.S. were invented in Germany).

Both Picker and Kreader were inspired by their Baha’i faith to create their games, but said the games appeal to people of all backgrounds.

“Virtues are universal. Anybody in the world understands what a virtue is — that’s why it has such mass appeal,” Picker said about Gems of Virtues.

In his game, players have to follow paths of virtues to win, and do so by drawing cards that have inspirational quotes on them. The quotes, he said, come from religious texts, philosophers and scientists.

Picker described his game as a toolbox, noting that virtues like humility, wisdom and love need to be taught to all people, as expressed in the following quote from the Baha’i writings:

“…the merciful God our creator has deposited within human realities certain virtues latent and potential. Through education and culture, these virtues deposited by the loving God will become apparent in the human reality even as the unfoldment of the tree from within the germinating seed.” (Baha’i World Faith, pg. 267)

Picker hopes to soon create a secular expansion pack for the game so it can be sold in public schools. “It’s a really fun game to play to get people talking about virtues,” he said.

Although Kreader’s game doesn’t include sacred quotes and lessons, he said the Baha’i Faith was a strong influence.

“It’s not a Baha’i game, but being Baha’i definitely gave me parameters for the game. I didn’t want sex, violence, drugs and alcohol…none of those things inspired me,” he said. “But we do have funny and outrageous cartooning in the game, like Mad Magazine-type things that would make a 12-year old giggle.”

He added that his wife, Lisa Blecker, gave the game the stamp of approval before he launched it. Thanks to her, he said, Treasures and Traps appeals to boys and girls and is intergenerational.