Auto Shop



Mick & Pam Rabin
Al Garrett
Peter Young

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

| Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References |

Instructional Objective

When confronted with the need for car maintenance or repair, learners will be able to decide between taking their automobile to a mechanic or doing the job themselves.

Learners & Context of Use

The game is designed for students learning about basic automotive care and maintenance (typically within a high school or adult school setting). Since the learners are not experts, game components are designed to allow for a broad but basic range of knowledge. It could be played as an enrichment and/or reinforcement activity after traditional instruction and learning. Each time the students play the game, their base of knowledge is  improved as answers are divulged and discussion about car systems is a natural outgrowth of the game's play. Instruction in the 6 major systems of the car is typically presented prior to game participation, but less experienced students can improve their existing knowledge with repeated play of the game.

Object of the Game

A car owner will be able to diagnose, maintain, and repair his/her vehicle in the most economical and successful manner possible, after using the game as part of an organized high-school or junior college course in automobile maintenance..

Game Materials






Time Required

The game would take less than 5 minutes to set up. The game could last from 1-3 hours depending on skill level and luck of the roll. The game would be completed over a single play period.

The Rules

1. Players start with $2500.00 and 10 time tokens. During the game, players can trade in knowledge tokens for $400.00 each, and time tokens for $200.00 each.

2. Players roll the die, to see who plays first. The highest score wins.

3. The players' pickup truck player pieces are placed on any colored spoke segment to begin the game, as selected by each of the player. There is no specified starting point common to all the players.

4. The starting player rolls the die and moves his/her pickup truck the number of path segments indicated on the face of the die, in either direction around the board along the circular path around the tire.

5. If the move lands the player on a road hazard segment, the player has an opportunity to earn a knowledge token.This is accomplished by correctly answering the question on the card, which is read aloud to the current player by the next player to their right.  After the questioned player answers, the player reading the road hazard card must always read the answer aloud.

6. If the move lands the player on a colored spoke segment, the player has an opportunity to earn a colored spoke token by correctly answering a question related to a vehicle subsystem. After the player reads the question on the face of the trifold spoke card, the player must choose between a dealer repair/service or doing his/her own repairs/services. The card is then passed on to the next player to the right, who compares the current player's answer to the correct  response listed on the flaps of the trifold spoke card.

  6.a. The player may choose to perform the maintenance. If the player answers the "Do it Yourself" (DIY) sequence correctly, the player will earn a number of knowledge tokens, spend money, and spend time tokens as indicated on the trifold spoke card and receive a colored spoke token for that spoke. If a player answers with more than one wrong answer in the  DIY section, they pay the money and time tokens, but earn no knowledge tokens or spoke token.

6.b. If a player elects to have the maintenance performed by a dealer, they will spend money, time tokens, and earn knowledge tokens as specified on the trifold spoke card and the colored spoke token for that spoke, for a correct answer. There is an opportunity to earn knowledge tokens by identifying any unnecessary steps performed by the dealer, as listed on the trifold spoke card. If the player does not identify the unnecessary steps correctly, they pay the money and time tokens, but will earn no knowledge tokens or spoke token.

If the player receives a colored spoke token, the token is then placed in the bed of his/her pickup truck player piece, and the next player  whose turn it is casts the die to continue play.

7. Players proceed in clockwise order (after first roll is determined).

8. The game ends when a person has collected at least one color spoke token from each of the spokes.

9. Winner is determined based upon total points derived from the scale below, based on the money, time tokens and knowledge tokens each player possesses at the end of the game.

1 Time Token = 2 Points

1 Knowledge Token = 4 Points

$100 = 1 Point (Round remaining funds to nearest hundred)

1 Spoke Token = 1 Point

The player with the most points wins the game.

Design Process

We wanted to use replicas of objects used in automobiles. Initially, we envisioned a realistic representation of the systems of an automobile through which the player pieces would travel. Instead, we opted for a more abstract model, in which we adopted wheels and tires as a metaphor, because they suggest a cyclic process like the typical sequence of repairs and maintenance encountered in car ownership. Replicas of off-road pickup trucks were adopted as player movement pieces because they provide a place to store the "trivial-pursuit"-like token scheme embodied in the game. "Monopoly"-like cards were used, both for introducing a set of intermediate "hazards" as well as the tri-fold "spoke question" cards which convey most of the knowledge-domain content of the game.

We used various car manuals, magazines, and consulted with a secondary-school auto-shop instructor: he indicated that he had no knowledge of any board games of this type. Two of the developers played the prototype game several times, and discovered that the spoke card design required improvement: it had to be modified so the answers were not divulged to the current player using the card. Initially, the cards were roughed out on 3"x5" index cards, and the board was hand-drawn. Adjustments were made to accommodate the size of the player pieces and the card dimensions. Finally, when the geometry was sorted out, computer imagery was used to construct the board and cards.

We found that, once the details of the wheel design were discussed carefully, and the index-card/sketchboard model was prototyped, that very few modifications were needed. Only the rules required more careful elaboration, but their content remained essentially unchanged in the current version. The lesson here was to spend a substantial amount of the total development time discussing the game design and trying the prototype, before implementing it in a more finished form.


Books & Journals

Electronic Sources

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Last updated October 22, 1998