The game covers four eras of Einstein's life.The game covers four eras of Einstein's life.The game covers four eras of Einstein's life. (Photo: Artana)

Game on! Einstein's life gets turned into a board game

With a Kickstarter campaign funded in mere hours, we go behind the scenes with the game’s creator.

When visitors would enter Albert Einstein's house, the physicist would often hand them a small handheld puzzle. He wanted to see how quickly they could solve it.

A man of science, he was also interested in playful ways to keep the mind occupied. It is with that spirit that a small Massachusetts-based company called Artana has created a new board game celebrating the life of the beloved genius.

They launched the game on Wednesday with a crowdsourced campaign on Kickstarter. The project became fully funded within a matter of hours. So, what does the game look like and how is it played? Take a sneak peek in the video below:

"With our games, people don't just play and enjoy. They think about what's meaningful to them beyond the game experience," Dirk Knemeyer, the company's creative director, told From The Grapevine.

Artana has previously worked on games about the lives of Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei. One of their more popular games pits Thomas Edison against Nikola Tesla in the war of currents in 1880s America. After featuring those luminaries, a game about Albert Einstein seemed like the obvious next choice.

"I think like most people in the Western world, I was an admirer of Dr. Einstein without knowing a whole lot about him," Knemeyer admitted. "As I started to do research, I was moved by Dr. Einstein's life. The science, of course, is important and he's inarguably one of the most important physicists – if not scientists – ever. But what really moved me was the story of his life as well."

Knemeyer, who was in the software industry before Artana opened last year, devised the game with tiles in four different shapes. Each one represents four distinct fields of Einstein's research: physics, mathematics, chemistry and philosophy. "He was taking ideas from everywhere. He was getting inspiration from all over the place. And I wanted to bring that to life."

Cards representing different major theories of Albert Einstein.Cards representing different major theories of Albert Einstein. (Photo: Artana)

Board and other tabletop games are experiencing a renaissance at the moment. "At the biggest convention in the industry, there were more new games released this year than there were new games released in the entire decade of the 1970s," Knemeyer told us. "That's a statistic that is indicative of not just the tidal wave of games that are being released, but the great consumer demand that is driving them."

And many, like Artana, are turning to crowdsourcing to get them from the drawing board to your dining room table. Last year, Israeli-American behavioral economist Dan Ariely turned to Kickstarter to create a card game about the choices we make in our everyday lives.

The Einstein game, which took about nine months to produce, caps off a year of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the theory of relativity.

An Albert Einstein doll greets visitors at the entrance.An Einstein doll greets visitors at the entrance to his archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

In the past year alone, Einstein has been the subject of everything from a graphic novel to a cake in the shape of the genius' head. His pop culture cameos not only play off his historical status, but also his iconic appearance. “Einstein's face is the most recognizable face worldwide,” said Hanoch Gutfreund, the director of the Albert Einstein archives at Hebrew University in Israel, a school the physicist helped establish. "If one can say anything about this, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."

Added Marcus Muller, the president of Artana: "Along with his fame as a scientist, Einstein embodied the attributes of courage and moral conviction, and evinced a personality of joy and lightness of spirit. This extraordinary combination made Einstein one of the most beloved individuals of the 20th century and we look forward to honoring his legacy.”

Pre-orders are now being accepted on Kickstarter for the Einstein game, which will be shipped next summer.

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