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Cranium® Zooreka™

Design Challenge: At Cranium, games were designed to give everyone a chance to shine. For Cranium’s first single activity strategy game for kids and families, the challenge was to create a game that employed strategy, while at the same time had safeguards in place to ensure that everyone had their winning moments, no matter their age or skill level.

Solution: For Zooreka, Marisa led the design of a game where luck and strategy are interwoven. Players have an opportunity to make strategic choices in a world of playful betting and luck that becomes the game’s leveling force, providing everyone an equal chance at winning the game. Mini-wins occur throughout the game as players win “zoo currency” that gets exchanged for parts of a zoo. Zooreka features a variety of zoo quarters, such as Otter Rock and Orangutan Junction, providing players a chance to personalize their own zoo. A large part of Zooreka’s success is the fact that players participate on every turn, keeping all players engaged all the time. The final game was universally enjoyed by kids and parents alike.

Favorite Moments: Our favorite moments in Zooreka were in watching how emotionally invested children were in the game as they carefully chose their zoo quarters and built out their own zoo—and how proudly they showed them off! We also enjoyed watching the countless “hoorahs” resulting from the roll of the dice, followed by the excited reception of the food, animal, or habit currency awarded.

Background: Marisa led the concepting and game design of Zooreka while she was an employee at Cranium. The game won the Toy Industry Association’s 2007 Toy of the Year award in the Games category.