“Explain and use the coordinate grid system of latitude and longitude to determine the absolute locations of places ... on Earth” (California State Board of Education, 2004, n.p.)
Students will be able to calculate the absolute and relative locations of world cities in terms of latitude and longitude. Students will also be able to determine the time in various time zones, given a base location and time.
Learners and Context of Use
The game is designed for use in the classroom by 4th and 5th grade students of Geography, ages 9-11. These students have already learned the concepts of latitude, longitude, and time zones; this game is designed to reinforce these concepts, and to allow the students to practice applying their knowledge in a new and meaningful context. In addition, the students will also be applying the basic mathematical skills of addition and subtraction of degrees of latitude and longitude.
No special accommodations would need to be made for students to play this game in the classroom, other than the availability of a large table. All materials needed to play the game are included in the gamebox. The game can be played more than once because each player’s starting and destination cities are likely to be different each time the game is played.
Prior to playing the game, the instructor would review basic principles of latitude, longitude, and time zones with the students. After playing the game, the students would take part in an instructor-led discussion of their experience with the game, including how they approached issues that arose during play.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to be the first player to reach his or her destination city, by strategically combining amounts of latitude and longitude degrees to traverse the map from his or her starting city.
The game box contains the items described below.
The game board is a map of the world, measuring approximately 16" by 25", as pictured below:
The board includes latitude and longitude lines at 15° intervals. In addition, the world’s time zones are marked along the bottom of the board with different colors, and each country is shaded with the color corresponding to the time zone that it respects. Finally, the International Date Line is depicted on the right-hand side of the board.
Each city represented by a card in the City Cards deck is marked on the board with a red dot, with the name of the city, the country in which it is located, and its coordinates printed next to it, for convenient reference by the players. An example is shown below:
There are four player pieces, colored red, yellow, green, and blue, so that up to four players can take part in the game.
The players use the spinner to determine which type of card they must draw at the beginning of each turn. The three types of cards are Latitude, Longitude, and Wild Cards, as depicted on the diagram of the spinner below:
This design should be printed on a circle of card, and a plastic or metal arrow should be attached to the center, so that it can spin freely. The players spin by flicking the arrow and looking to see where it points when it has stopped spinning.
Deck of City Cards
There is one deck of City Cards, with one card representing each city marked on the map that players can land on. As an example, the front and back of the City Card for New York are shown below:
As can be seen above, each City Card also displays the name of the city with which the main city is paired; this additional city is the player’s destination city, while the main city is his or her starting city for the game.
The country, latitude and longitude coordinates, and destination city for each city represented in the City Cards deck can be seen here (this information is for the game developer only; the players simply use the information printed on the board and cards).
There is one deck of Wild Cards, which present situations that affect the players by creating obstacles to their movement (e.g. canceled flights), or by allowing them greater flexibility in their travels (e.g. a free flight to anywhere within 30° longitude). In addition, certain Wild Cards allow the players to travel “for free” if they correctly answer questions related to time zones.
The front and back of a sample Wild Card is shown below:
A list of the text on all of the Wild Cards is available here.
Latitude and Longitude Cards
There are one deck each of Latitude Cards and Longitude Cards. The players collect and combine these cards in order to accrue degrees of latitude and longitude, which they subsequently use to make “journeys” to different cities on the board en route to their destination cities.
As an example, the front and back of a typical Latitude Card are depicted below:
Likewise, the front and back of a typical Longitude Card are depicted below:
Scratch Paper and Pencils
Because the players will need to make frequent mathematical calculations in order to determine the number of degrees of latitude and longitude that they possess or require, the game provides scratch paper and pencils that the players can use to make these calculations.
The game takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of players. The fewer the players, the faster the game.
Each player has his or her own starting city and destination city. The first player to reach his/her destination city wins the game.
Players move toward their destination cities by collecting the necessary amounts of longitude and latitude cards. Players can also use their longitude and latitude cards to travel to intermediate cities along the way. Each player’s starting and destination cities, as well as the other cities she stops in along the way, become her own; this means that the other players cannot stop in these cities.
The game is played as follows:
- Each player draws a City Card from the City Cards deck. The main city featured on each player’s card becomes her starting city. The corresponding destination city is located at the foot of the same card. The player must then also take the card of her destination city from the City Cards deck. These two cities “belong” to that player, and she will hold those cards for the remainder of the game.
- When all players know their starting and destination cities, they can take a moment to determine which will be the shortest way for them to travel around the world (east or west), and how many latitude and longitude degrees they will need to do so.
- Beginning with the player whose first name comes earliest in the alphabet, players take turns counter-clockwise or clockwise around the game board. Each player begins his turn by spinning the spinner. The player then draws a card according to the result of his spin. If the spinner lands on latitude, he draws a Latitude Card. If the spinner lands on longitude, he draws a Longitude Card. If the spinner lands on wild, he draws a Wild Card.
- The Longitude and Latitude Cards display varying numbers of degrees. Players collect these cards, and can combine them to travel to different cities. On each player’s turn (after spinning), she can choose to use her cards to travel, if she has enough degrees (both latitude and longitude) to reach another city. For example, if 43° latitude and 6° longitude are required for a move, the player can give up a 45° Latitude Card and a 10° Longitude Card in order to travel. These cards are returned to the bottom of their respective decks. The player does not receive “change” for any degrees she submits above the number required. (Alternatively, the player can choose not to travel; in this case, the player’s turn is over.) Wild Cards present different scenarios and circumstances that affect players’ travel plans and/or movement across the board.
- If a player lands on an intermediate city during the journey from her starting city to her destination city, she gets to “own” this city. She takes the card for that city from the City Cards deck and holds it for the rest of the game. From this point on, only she is allowed to land on that city. Landing on intermediate cities therefore allows players to block other players from using those cities as stopover points - a tactical move that will make it harder for the other players to reach their own destinations.
Modifying the Game
The game can be modified in two ways:
- Round-trip game. To extend the duration of play, the rules can be modified so that each player must not only travel from her starting city to her destination city, but must also, after reaching her destination city, travel back to her starting city. This modification will approximately double the playing time of the game, allowing greater learning and reinforcement of the concepts.
- Team game. Instead of playing individually, players can form teams and play together. This game modification might be particularly suitable for players who are having difficulty with the concepts being taught and reinforced by the game; as teams, they can “pool” their collective understanding to make the required calculations, and to solve the problems presented on the Wild Cards.
Example of Game Play
To demonstrate how the game is played, here are some moves from a hypothetical game being played by Amy, Matt, and Molly.
- Amy, Matt, and Molly each draw a City Card to determine his/her starting city:
- Amy draws the San Diego card. The card names Bangalore as her destination city, so she finds this card in the deck and takes it.
- Matt draws the Stockholm card. The card names Perth as his destination city, so he finds this card in the deck and takes it.
- Molly draws the Cape Town card. The card names Dallas as her destination city, so she finds this card in the deck and takes it.
- Looking at their own cards and at the board (a world map), Amy, Matt, and Molly figure out the shortest way to get to their destination cities. For example, Molly sees that Cape Town's location is 33°S 18°E, while Dallas is at 32°N 96°W. Whether she goes east or west, she will need to travel 65° longitude. However, she will have to travel 246° latitude if she heads east, but only 114° latitude if she heads west. She therefore decides to travel west.
- Amy plays first, as her name comes first alphabetically. She spins the spinner, and lands on latitude, so she draws a latitude card, which is worth 20°. She keeps this card.
- Play continues in this way until one or more players have obtained sufficient longitude and latitude cards to travel to another city. For example, Molly is at her starting city, Cape Town. She spins the spinner, and collects a 25° latitude card to add to the cards she already holds. She now has 40° longitude (two 20° cards) and 75° latitude (a 50° and a 25° card), and calculates that she now has enough to travel to Asunción, Paraguay, which is on the way to her destination city, Dallas. This journey requires 75° latitude and 8° longitude. Molly gives up all of her latitude cards, and one of her 20° longitude cards, by putting them back in the deck, and moves her player piece to Asunción. (She does not receive any “change” for the 12° that her longitude card exceeded the required amount.) Finally, she takes the Asunción card from the deck, and keeps it. From now on, no other player can land on that city.
- Amy spins the spinner, and lands on wild. Her Wild Card says: “One free flight to any city within your time zone.” By this point in the game, Amy has reached Oslo, Norway. She looks at the board, and sees that she can take a free flight to Lagos, Nigeria, which is the same time zone. Nobody else has landed on Lagos yet, so she is free to fly there. She calculates that flying to Lagos will bring her closer to her destination city (Bangalore, India), in terms of longitude, so she moves her player piece to Lagos.
- Matt spins the spinner, and lands on wild. His Wild Card says: “It is 2:00pm where you are, and you must confirm your hotel reservation in your destination city. The hotel staff can be reached only between 8:00am and 8:00pm (their time). If you cannot reach them, your travel is delayed - lose a turn.” Matt is in Stockholm, Sweden, and his destination city is Perth, Australia. He looks at the board, and calculates that Perth is 7 time zones ahead of Stockholm, so if it is 2:00pm in Stockholm, then it must be 9:00pm in Perth. However, the hotel staff in Perth cannot be reached after 8:00pm their time, so Matt cannot travel, and his turn is over.
- After several more turns, Molly finally has enough longitude and latitude degrees to reach her destination city, Dallas, so she moves her piece there. Molly has won the game. (If the Round-trip version of the game were being played, the game would not yet be over: she would now have to get back to her starting city, Cape Town.)
The game originated with the idea of reinforcing basic concepts of world geography, and how they relate to travel. During our research, we discovered that these skills and concepts are well aligned with California’s fourth grade curriculum standards. We reviewed geography websites to help develop our ideas and decided that the principles of latitude and longitude would be the primary focus of the game, and that it should be necessary for players to demonstrate their understanding of these principles in order to win. We also decided to incorporate concepts associated with time zones, as these are involved in how different cities and countries are geographically relative to one another.
We originally conceptualized the game as a “trivia” type of geography game, in which players would answer geography questions in order to proceed along a defined path on the map. We wished to design the game so that players would need to combine their knowledge of all of the aforementioned concepts to advance across the board. This seemed to lend itself well to the format, but we were interested in creating a game that could have multiple paths and outcomes for players, and wished to avoid a simple, single-path game. Drawing upon ideas from Ellington, Addinall, and Percival (1982, chapter 4), and Dodge (2003), we decided that each player would have a unique starting and destination point, that he or she should be required to calculate distances between different points on the board in order to reach that destination, and that he or she would be allowed to move freely to any cities around the world. This would permit the players to make strategic decisions about their moves on the map.
Since we shifted from a trivia race game, we decided to create longitude and latitude cards to be used to traverse across the map. The cities were selected so that every city pair (starting city and destination city) are the same distance apart, in terms of latitude and longitude degrees, as every other pair, to within ten degrees. This ensures that all players have almost exactly the same amount of degrees to collect in order to complete their journeys.
The prototype game board consisted of a world map with latitude and longitude lines and the world’s time zones color-coded and labeled to indicate how time zones are assigned to different regions. This proved to be a successful format, and the final version of the game board deviated little from the prototype. The prototype board was labeled with cities, but was not labeled with the exact coordinates.
After the initial testing of our prototype, we discovered that the game needed a job aid for the players to reference the exact coordinates of each city in order to perform calculations when determining the distances between cities, in terms of degrees. As a result, we created a reference chart containing each city’s name country, and coordinates. We also learned that we had to decrease the proportion of obstacle cards (e.g. “Flight canceled due to bad weather - lose a turn!”) in the Wild Cards deck, because those cards prolonged the duration of the game excessively.
We conducted another usability testing session with our classmates. From their feedback, it was apparent that the chart was an inconvenient tool for the players to reference the city coordinates, and was a distraction from the game board. Therefore, the final version of the game board has the coordinates of each city marked directly next to the city’s name.
- California State Board of Education. (2004). Grade four: History-Social Science
content standards. Retrieved October 9, 2004, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/
be/ st/ ss/ hstgrade4.asp
- Dodge, B. (2003). First steps in board game design. Retrieved October 9, 2004,
Courses/ EDTEC670/ boardgame/ BoardGameDesign1.html
- Ellington, H., Addinall, E., & Percival, F. (1982). How to design a board game. In A handbook of game design. London: Kogan Page.
- National Geographic. (2004). Lesson plans: Longitude, latitude, and mapmaking.
Retrieved October 1, 2004 from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/
xpeditions/ lessons/ 01/ g68/ mapmaking.html
- Nova Online. Lost at sea: The search for longitude. Retrieved October 9, 2004,
wgbh/ nova/ longitude/ findgame.html