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Board Games


Go Travel: Africa

By Linda Pliagas

When Margaret S. Emmons visited Jerusalem in 1992, sixteen years ago, she did not foresee that she would later develop a business inspired by her travels.

While in Israel, Emmons picked up a souvenir game, “Jerusalem Picture Card” and brought back to Iowa. She began playing the card game with her grandson and he enjoyed it so much that he soon began to share it with his friends.

“They liked the game so much and learned a lot, it was a good learning method,” Emmons says.

When Emmons realized how much the card game enhanced her grandson’s knowledge of geography, she began to create games of states and cities modeled after the popular classics, Go Fish and Authors. Games featuring American and Canadian destinations became popular with her local elementary and middle schoolers. Next, she was inspired to make a professional game and because of her experiences she chose Africa.

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It was after her first trip to Africa in 1975 that she became inspired to create Go Travel: Africa, a card game featuring the fascinating continent.

“Many of the pictures on the cards are ones we took on our trips,” says Emmons. For example, she featured her son Bob on the card of Morocco wearing traditional garb.

Next, Emmons traveled to Kenya, beautiful photographs of exotic animals were taken and incorporated into the cards as well. The photography was so stunning that Emmons also organized slide shows for her hometown in Iowa.

In 1983, Emmons was invited to Africa to teach in two medical schools and after a visit to a village church became involved in agricultural development work. More photos and contacts followed.

Emmons worked in conjunction with graphic artists for nearly three years to develop the colorful and informative cards featured on Go Travel: Africa. Each one engages the player with a vivid display of an African country, personal photographs, replicas of stamps, and fascinating geographical information. Emmons also developed Go Travel: Africa’s concept and players’ guidelines.

Go Travel: Africa consists of 52 cards, which are grouped by 13 color-coded regions. The object of the game is to draw and exchange cards with other players to make complete sets of four countries of one region. The game is appropriate for players ages
eight to 80.

When Emmons attends homeschool conventions, she says that she receives compliments from both adults and children alike. “They always come up to me and say, ‘We tried to learn about Africa and we just gave up, until we played Go Travel:Africa’” she says.

It gives Emmons pleasure to know that grandparents, parents and children alike are not only enjoying themselves when they play Go Travel: Africa, but they are also learning about that fascinating continent.

“My goal is to help people learn more about Africa,” Emmons reveals. “The game provides a basis for further study.”

By pursuing her interest in Africa, Emmons has learned a lot and has enjoyed organizing the information into a fun game. She could be considered an example of the notion that learning need never cease.

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