Alfred Twu, who created the fantastic US high speed rail map that went viral last year, has now created a new board game based on that map. It’s available on Kickstarter and the window to fund the game closes tonight at midnight.
Twu has raised money well past his initial goal, so he will be able to produce an initial run of the game. But there are some good pieces of swag available to those who pledge today, especially at the higher levels.
The game concept resembles, in a very basic sense, the highly successful Ticket to Ride board game, although this is focused on building a modern, national HSR network in the United States. As much as I enjoy playing Ticket to Ride, it is a game whose imagery is rooted in the past, the world of the robber barons of a century ago. The High Speed Rail Game is a cultural reminder that rail is a modern thing, and that the modern US needs a national HSR network. The game can potentially inspire people to think about what such a national network would look like.
While this blog focuses mostly on politics and policy, the fine grained details of how the HSR system will work and where it will go, most major decisions in this country are made not on facts but on values, especially cultural values. Prop 1A passed in 2008 in part thanks to strong support from younger Californians who understand that rail is an important part of a better future. The widespread attention Twu’s map received shows the importance of imagination. A board game like this can help fuel a deeper cultural bond with the idea of HSR – even if it is primarily about play.
I made my pledge, and look forward to getting the game later this year!