Board game creators bring fun of Parliament
to homes with Question Time!
Tim Elliot, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Nov 2013
There's back-stabbing and branch-stacking, pork-barrelling and spin-doctoring. There are leaks and leadership challenges, dirty tricks and cheap shots. It's Question Time!, the board game we had to have, where you don't keep the bastards honest - you get the bastards back.
"Australian politics has always been full of drama," says Tess Shannon, co-creator of QuestionTime! "You couldn't hope for a richer environment for a board game." A former political science tutor, Ms Shannon has, together with her friend graphic designer Libby Blainey, spent the past seven years developing QuestionTime!, a board game she says is guaranteed to "bring out the Machiavellian instincts in just about any player".
Based on Australian federal politics, the game sees players work their way around the House of Representatives, starting at the backbenches, landing on different seats, including Stuff-Ups and Scandals and Party Room (e.g., "Blood on the floor. The party room has just sacked the prime minister. Go forward two seats").
The aim is to reach the frontbench, where you must successfully present three bills to Parliament.
Players are encouraged through the use of strategy cards to use any species of bastardy (political and otherwise) to scuttle the progress of your rivals.
There's even a seat called the Rat, which allows the person who lands on it to swap parties.
"It's basically exactly like Federal Parliament, only a lot more fun," says friend and Labor Senator John Faulkner, who launched the game on Sunday at Gleebooks.
Ms Shannon is a big fan of Australian political history, a field rich not only in intrigue and double-crosses but farce, folly and faceless men. "When I was tutoring, however, I found it difficult getting the students interested."
So she hit on the idea of a board game, a prototype of which she initially put together as a gift for Senator Faulkner on his 50th birthday. "John played it, and said 'I reckon this has real potential'. And so we went away and developed it."
Lovingly illustrated by political cartoonist Jenny Coopes, the game is a cross between Trivial Pursuit, Snakes and Ladders and Monopoly, one where a knowledge of politics is useful but by no means necessary. (Sample question: "Who said "I wish I'd never been to bloody Memphis"?")
"It's meant to be fun and raucous," Ms Shannon says. "But hey, if it whips up some interest in the history of Australian politics, then that's good too."
Question Time! - The Board Game
A board game for the political family - the Borgia family
Elizabeth Quinn, Weekend Notes, 8 Dec 2013
Christmas is on its way and with it come extended periods of time spent in unaccustomed close proximity with family members, and the opportunity to bond over a board game or two - or take sibling rivalry to the next level and get revenge for all those years of being the second-favourite child.
Punch ups, bullying, illicit liaisons and tears before recess – if this sounds like a day in the life of your typical school child you'd be right. It's also true of our elected representatives if the makers of newly released board game Question Time!, Tess Shannon and Libby Blainey, are to be believed.
The winner of this contest is the first player to pass three bills in Parliament by answering as many questions correctly as possible while avoiding the pitfalls of Party Room, Press Gallery and Stuff Ups and Scandals.
Question Time! provides hours of fun and an excuse to practise one-upmanship, show off to your friends and make up the rules as you go along – pretty much just another day at the office for our mighty leaders in Canberra. Once you've got the rules down pat, you can let loose with your inner pollie and surprise yourself with the depths to which you'll go to score a point against your opponent.
Having said all that, there is room for compromise: if all parties agree to a rule change, the constitution allows it. This is a particularly welcome aspect of the game for your reviewer, whose own idiosyncratic playing rules for Uno have been cast into question on more than one occasion. The ability to engineer the play to suit oneself is one of the many highlights of the game for her and her playing companion on their Question Time! debut.
Said companion also saw fit to suggest the one minute impromptu speech on a selected topic demanded by the Fillibuster cards be waived in the case of your reviewer, who as a rule enjoys the opportunity to air her opinions on just about any topic. But Question Time! is no place for sissies: a thick hide and an urge for revenge are great assets in this game of political point-scoring.
There is an educational element to this game of question and answer in all matters political, ranging from Australia's very first parliament to the current day. The opportunity to increase the degree of difficulty of the questions by nominating oneself as a Star Recruit is recommended only for the supremely confident: the calibre of the standard questions is challenging enough.
If you have a loved one who likes the sound of their own voice, welcomes the opportunity to hear it and knows everything, Question Time! could just be the ideal Christmas gift. And think of the hours of fun ahead around the holiday house kitchen table while they prove it. Or not…
By the Book - Politics
The game of politics is not for the faint hearted. But if you have always had an interest and want to get some flavour of the cut and thrust of life in federal parliament, then this might be the game for you.
Contestants take on a political party as if they are an elected member. They then move about the board trying to pass legislation, answering questions about politics and political history, moving from the backbenches to a ministry.
But even when you think you are within sight of victory, you can still get walloped by some heartless fellow parliamentarian. That is the most infuriating and yet also the best part of this game.
Although a person can make their way through on their political knowledge, sometimes sheer rat cunning is what will get you over the line.
Just like real politics, one moment a rooster, the next you're a feather duster.
Available from questiontimegame.com.au, gleebooks and a range of other bookstores, this is one of the quirkier ways to absorb a bit of political history.
Cut and thrust of politics
in spin of the doctor
William Yeoman, The West Australian, 28 Jan 2014 http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/21115006/cut-and-thrust-of-australian-politics-in-new-board-game/
How good's your knowledge of Australian political history? Try this question from the new board game, Question Time: name the Labor Premier of New South Wales who opposed the Scullin Government's monetary policies during the Great Depression, causing a damaging split in the Labor Party. Was it a) James Dooley, b) John Storey or c) Jack Lang?
Or this one, from one of the game's Stuff Ups & Scandals cards: name the former Labor leader who allegedly called Liberal Party president Tony Staley a deformed character, columnist Piers Akerman a cocaine user and columnist Janet Albrechtsen a skanky ho.
Despite my efforts to rectify the situation by reading numerous books on the subject, I admit to being an embarrassing ignoramus when it comes to Australian politics past and present.
Ostensibly a Trivial Pursuit-style board game involving "strategy, knowledge, luck, intuition and rat cunning", Question Time is effectively an interactive book which combines learning about such matters with fun. Consequently, I had a (very informative) ball playing it, even if I got most of the questions wrong and often ended up picking very unhelpful Press Gallery Cards ("You used the term 'Working Families' 21 times in your speech at the National Press Club." GO BACK 3 SEATS) or party Room Cards ("You have not kept to the Party line when you spoke to the media. You are a maverick. The Party is in damage control. GO BACK 3 SEATS.).
Conceived and beautifully designed by political science graduate Tess Shannon and graphic artist Libby Blainey and launched late last year at the Parliament House shop in Canberra, Question Time has been successfully tested by the House of Representatives Committee, the Senate Committee and a focus group of visitor services officers.
Basically, players use dice and a spin dial (the Spin Doctor) to move around a board which represents the Parliament's House of Representatives.
The object is to present three Acts to the Parliament from the Front Bench (an Act of Parliament comprises three Bill Cards of the same portfolio). If there are enough players, one can be elected as Speaker; during the course of the game, if you land on a Filibuster you will have to give a one- minute speech on a set topic.
I've only played this one-on-one so far but I can imagine it's a scream for bigger numbers of players, each of whom represents a different political party (the history of which you get on special cards).
I can even imagine things getting a little rough-and-tumble, and indeed seeing myself or other players ejected from the house.
But isn't that what the cut and thrust of Australian politics is in part about? And why it's better to learn about it through doing rather than reading?
Question Time (RRP $90) is available from Tactics - Fantasy War and Gaming, The State Library of WA and Crow Books. For more information or to purchase online visit questiontimegame.com.au
My mid-20's son played for a riotous 5 hours with his friends...we're keen to get our own copy.
I played your game on the weekend with a mixed bunch, and we had a surprisingly good time! I must admit, I didn't have high hopes for a Political themed game, but the varied mechanics actually kept us really engaged - though one player refused to filibuster and simply forfeited his turn if he landed on it!
OK. the game is a winner…. we played for an hour and a half and ran out of time… only just made it to the front bench. we had great fun with the questions and multiple choice made it easier…..we helped the kids, and explained the answers (the ones we knew) which always led to lengthy discussions… The 1 min speech was the kids favourite. Kids love that stuff - a bit like a verbal version of the game Baulderdash. We will need to set up a full afternoon, our appetite is wet, the bell's are ringing we need to backstab our way to glory!!!
I gave QT to my friends O and P for Xmas. A couple of days ago we took it for a spin – and had a riotously, rollicking good time. We jumped right in using the quick method but next time we are going to read up more so we can develop our tactics. We are in awe of your brilliance, knowledge and wit – and loved also the beautiful presentation by the talented Ms Coopes. So take a bow – your hard work and persistence has produced a gem.
It really is a great game! Most of us are govt students, so it got quite competitive, but we all had a great night drinking and playing. It is an amazing game that is bringing joy and knowledge!
Your game is fantastic and would be an asset to any school. As a primary school library officer I'll be putting this on 2014's wish list.
I played your game with my sister and brother-in-law last night till 2am!!? It's really good. Quite involved after a few wines but we got there. You've done a great job. Great questions I thought.
... While adults I’m sure would have fun with it, there is also great potential in the classroom. From a brief look, I can see that it would be suitable for high school students, but I know it would be a terrific teaching tool for primary students – providing it was at their level.
Hi Laughing and having great time playing game for first time.
Had four friends around for lunch today. Just finished Question Time and had a ripper of a time. Thanks
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