San Diego
Xi Cheng, Pei-Shan Chuang, Nancy Lai,
Monica Veinbergs, Gentiana Cheung

Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials

Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References

Instructional Objectives
Players will become familiar with the general whereabouts and characteristics of the major attractions in the vicinity of San Diego. They will learn of the many places of interest that they can visit when they are in San Diego and strategies to plan a trip in San Diego. They will also acquire historical knowledge of San Diego and gain better understanding of U.S. culture.


Learners and Context of Use
People new to the San Diego area will find this game instructive. They could be foreign students in high school or college, ranging in age from 15 to 25, possibly even older. As long as they are not native to San Diego, they will learn something about the history and environs of the city.

The game acculturates foreign students to the myriad choices they may encounter in San Diego. Given that most of them are here for only a certain limited period of time to further their studies, they have to choose how to spend their leisure time wisely. The design of this board game attempts to expose them to the many attractions of San Diego and is suitable for newcomers as well as for visitors interested in what the city has to offer.

This game can be played during orientation week for both international and domestic students from other parts of the States. It can be played more than once to familiarize players to the different options they have with their time in San Diego. They may be motivated to make a trip to a historical or cultural site that they have not previously considered before as a result of playing the game.


Object of the Game
The goal of the game is for players to move around the board accumulating as many points as possible. Whoever has the most points (numbered chips) at the end is the winner. When the player runs out of time cards, he/she can no longer play the game.


Game Materials

A board with about 60 places of interest in San Diego.

[1]  [2]  [3]  [4]

Game pieces with faces representing a variety of multicultural backgrounds on them for different players


A box of chips with different values on them: white chips are worth 5 points each, green chips are worth 10 points each, red chips are worth 30 points each, and yellow ones are worth 50 points each


Time cards: 1, 2 and 3 hours (100 cards of each).

front[PDF] back[PDF]

Question cards contain knowledge of daily life and histories of different places in San Diego.

front[WORD] back[PDF]

Chance cards contain content related to real life experiences that players may encounter in San Diego. Chance cards may help or hinder a player from winning.

  front[PDF] back [PDF]

Two spinners to determine the rate of players¡¦ mobility: one for the trolley, the other for rental cars [PDF]


Time Required
Minimal time is required to set up the game, which takes about 1-2 hrs. to play. The number of players can vary from two to six.


The Rules

General rules

1. Each player selects a game piece to represent himself/ herself.

2. Each player is given the equivalent of 36 hours of time cards at the beginning of the game.

3. Using the same spinner for everyone, players will spin to determine who will go first. The one spinning the highest value goes first. Second highest value goes next, and so on.

4. All players start at the Airport site by means of a rental car.

5. The spinners will tell players how many cells they can move up each time it is their turn.

6. Special rules for BALBOA PARK/DOWNTOWN (RED-LINE TRACK) movement:
For those going to Balboa Park/ Downtown area, they have the option to go by trolley (use the trolley spinner), but will have to pay for that with 2 hour time cards. For those choosing to stay with a rental car in Balboa Park/ Downtown, 15 points will be taken from them.
(A table of transportation modes around Balboa Park/Downtown area is provided on the board as well.)

7. MOVEMENT RESTRICTION: A player can only go in a backward direction in dead end paths (i.e. Imperial Beach, Coronado, etc.)

8. Whoever has the most points (numbered chips) at the end is the winner.

9. When the player runs out of time cards, he/she can no longer play the game.

Cell Landing Rules:

Fuchsia, green, or orange

     50 pts.
     30 pts.
     10 pts.

Players receive:

Regular Points
¡Eyellow chip (50 pts) for landing on orange-colored cells.
¡E red chip (30 pts) for landing on fuchsia-colored cells
¡E green chip (10 pts) for landing on green cells

Bonus Points
May answer a question that can give them an additional 5 points (white chip) if they answer correctly.

¡ENo penalty for answering incorrectly.

Answer questions to gain points.

Answer right, get 10 points.

Answer wrong, no points.

¡E The question is read aloud by the player on their right.
¡E After question is answered, the card is placed at the bottom of the pile.
¡E Players have to answer a question.
¡E Correct answer: player receives a green chip.
¡E Incorrect answer: Player gets no chips.



Gain or lose points according to the content of chance cards. ¡EThey have to take a card off the top of the ¡§chance¡¨ cards and do what it says.
¡EAfter chance action is taken, the card is placed at the bottom of the pile.

Design Process

The original idea of this project was based on one of the team members, Xi¡¦s idea: Traveling in Hangzhou, China for foreigners. The initial design was to simulate the real life events that a traveler might encounter during a trip: time, money and transportation considerations, deciding which point of interests to visit, and adjusting to possible cultural differences that might influence the travel experience. In light of those content, several rules were generated: Players started with a limited amount of money and time cards which were to be paid during each visit of different landmarks. Chance cards were added to present the possible events encountered by travelers in an unfamiliar place. Several dices were used to differentiate various modes of transportation.

The first team meeting resulted in several changes of the boardgame design. Team members decided to shift the travel destination to San Diego. To narrow the range of movement with different transportation modes, team members also changed dice to spinners so that the movement numbers could be embodied in smaller values. Also, team members agreed to give a real context to the board and game pieces by using real siteseeing attractions and multicultural faces for the different players. However, we maintained the fundamental rules of the original design because they were applicable to different visiting spots.

One important consideration of game design was to decide what the learning content was and how to integrate those learning content into the process of game playing. The initial idea on learning content for foreigners revolved around three aspects: familiarization of the landmarks in San Diego and identification of their relative importance, effectiveness in distributing time and money during a trip and cultural differences in a foreign country. To integrate those learning content, the game was preliminarily designed in the following ways:

1) Classify the importance of landmarks by allocating different amount of time and money to them.
2) Design intersections of the movement path so that players have the chance to consider the best path to go according to their own situations.
3) Put events that represent cultural differences in Chance cards as unpredictable factors of the trip as well as this board game.

The team did not discard the possibility of adding historical knowledge to the board game. However, we still needed to figure out an ideal rule to integrate pure knowledge base content. The question-answering and movement design was not quite proper because this game intended to provide educational meaning in both trip planning and knowledge. In addition, we wished not to discourage players without substantial prior knowledge of San Diego in the first place.

When proceeding to draw the map, we encountered some decision-making points again. We tried to approximate the general layout of different places to real life, e.g. different museums along the track for Balboa Park. We realized that it was impossible to draw the map precisely to scale because many landmarks around Downtown would be excluded owing to the limited space of the downtown area on the board. And this would not be of the best interest of the players. Therefore we chose to enlarge downtown/Balboa Park and increased landmarks from 20 to 60 to enrich the sightseeing spots.

The usability test conducted with several players resulted in the following recommendations:

1) Simplify the rules: Several users pointed out that players paying time cards and money cards after landing each cells made the game quite tardy. It was also too complicated to calculate so many values after each movement.
2) Players also suggested us add knowledge of San Diego to enrich the content.

While quite a few flaws were revealed during the usability test, we were pleased to see that players did try to make a decision on which way to go and which landmarks to visit to maximize their chance to win the game. We believed that this process would be a very good rehearsal for foreigners who plan to visit San Diego.

With the feedback from usability test, we decided to dispense with the original idea of handing out paper money to players at the start of the game. We kept time cards as a factor that would exist in reality. And because the removal of money cards, we changed many chance cards that contained content of winning or losing money. We decided to replace it by points which would eventually determine the winner of this game.

We then dealt with the knowledge content that we intended to add in the board game. We decided to maintain the original rules of gaining points according to the color of each cell. Furthermore, we added two types of question-answering opportunities to encourage players to learn more about San Diego. One was ¡§question cells¡¨ in which players were required to answer questions to gain points. The other was to give players the option of answering questions when they land on the colored cells. This design would encourage players to increase their knowledge of San Diego. At the same time, it also maintained the original learning objectives that the board game intended to convey¡Xknowledge involving in traveling in a strange place, e.g. time constraints, identification of the different landmarks and knowledge of daily life in America.




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Last updated October 17 2004