Among a bumper crop of clever, fun and educational games for adults and children sprouting up this year, Diversity Works”a card game extolling the appreciation of more than 60 different cultures”promises the most, er, diverse range of applications. Created by Cultural Concepts Inc. of New York City, Diversity Works is played with a deck of cards featuring questions of etiquette, sports, food, fashion, customs, religion, business, music, holidays and language of cultures around the world. One side of the card asks a question; when answered correctly (for varying point values), the card is placed opposite side up in the center of the players, revealing one letter of the word "diversity." One player continues to pick cards until he or she answers a question incorrectly, then the next player is given a turn. All players win as a group when the word "diversity" is spelled by the correctly answered cards. The player who adds the last letter to the word earns five bonus points and is the global winner; the player who earns the most points during the game is the universal winner. Another variation of the game limits time, speeding up the play. Diversity Works can be played by two or more people or in teams.
Resembling a multicultural Trivial Pursuit, Diversity Works attains a large part of its fun from the astounding number of fascinating facets it explores of many different world cultures. Denise Bailey, founder and president of Cultural Concepts and a former high school English teacher, designed the game not only for fun but as a tool to promote racial tolerance and understanding among young people and adults. The game d s this by sharing cultural information while at the same time providing children with the opportunity to further develop emotional self-esteem, intellectual growth and improved social relationships. A tall order for a card game to be sure, but Diversity Works certainly gives it an enterprising and entertaining try. Great for family, school, parties, travel (the approximately 3"x3" cards fit in a box of similar size) or workplace.
In addition, the Cultural Concepts Web site, www.cultural-concepts.com, features a "share your heritage" response section that encourages visitors to submit information on their own cultural traditions and customs, which may be incorporated in future editions of the game. Cultural Concepts itself was formed this year by a diverse group of individuals with Egyptian, Norwegian and Swedish roots who shared a vision of a product that would transcend racial and ethnic lines in its inclusion of all groups.
Question: What is the one universal action, the one signal, the one form of communication that is used and understood by every culture and in every country? Answer: A smile. For ages eight to adult. Call (800) 497-8221, fax (201) 626-4242.
Also new on the turnpike, and designed for travel play, the card game Rubberneckers from Chronicle Books, San Francisco, attacks family car-ride ennui with a vengeance. The brainchild of brothers Matthew and Mark Lore, who perhaps spent too much time on the road both as children and adults, and exuberantly illustrated by Robert Zimmerman, Rubberneckers is composed of 68 cards bearing instructions on objects, people or activities to see or instigate in order to earn points. If you manage to coax a fellow traveler (in another car) to make the peace sign back to you, for example, you earn five points. If you see a smoke stack, five points; with smoke coming out of it, add another five points. And if you see someone in another vehicle either reading, picking his or her nose, singing, talking on a phone or eating, you bag 10 points (per activity). The first player to earn 100 points wins. When an item or action has been accomplished, the player places that card on his or her scoring pile and draws another card. Wild cards, car-pool cards, super Rubbernecker cards and share-the-road cards increase the complexity of the game. Supercompetitive and team play also expand the options. Packaged in a sturdy, colorful box sized for glove compartment or seat storage pocket, the game's engaging design, simple rules and broadly selected items make it a road-trip accessory of substantial value. Ages five and up. Call (800) 722-6657.
The M.J. Moran Company, of Meriden, Conn., offers a new series of whimsical card games for children ages six and up: Pizza Pests, I Scream, Dog Pound and Pegleg. Each game builds playfully on its imaginative theme. Pizza Pests takes the traditional memory and matching game a step further”players don't just collect matched sets in a pile, they use the wedge-shaped cards to assemble three different varieties of pizza, with six types of bug "pests" (this is one picnic we might not have wanted to attend). Players of I Scream (for ice cream, of course) seek four of a kind (sundae, Popsicle, cone, etc.) while chanting "yum-yum-yum." Dog Pound matches dog with owner (not as straightforward as it may seem), and Pegleg develops piracy skills of a kinder, gentler sort. All feature evocative artwork and silliness abounds. Call (800) 656-6726, fax (203) 235-2817.