Book of Beasties is a cute card game in which players must work with Oscar, Abigail & little Mimic to help the bizarre creatures that have escaped from the Aether through a mysterious blue portal, using weird and wonderful contraptions and collecting comforts for their comfort zones.
BUT WAIT! Not all is as it seems – the game also acts as a tool to help teachers, parents and guardians talk to children about mental health.
It offers a more relatable and enjoyable platform to broach issues such as depression and anxiety – the focal point of the initial game – both of which have been and still are firmly sat on the list of taboo subjects of conversation.
There are three sections to Book of Beasties – two of them being the before convo, and the ongoing convo.
The Before Convo: Before the game is played teachers, parents or guardians take the kids through each and every card. talking about how each beastie feels, discussing which items could help them and how they could be practiced in the real world.
Each child is asked to choose beasties they feel they most relate to – that becomes their spirit beastie going forward. This is a handy insight into how each individual may be thinking and feeling that may not have been available beforehand.
The group then practices some of the exercises on the item or action cards.
The Ongoing Convo: Once the players are comfortable with the concept, the game and all of the cards – having played it a few times – the game is then taken into the playground or home and continues to be played, with the conversation about mental health continuing outside of the classroom.
As mentioned, the initial Book of Beasties game will focus on depression and anxiety. It will give adults an easier platform on which to talk about the mental wellbeing of children in their care in a subtle and comfortable manner.
There are 10 different beasties in the deck, each representing a certain disorder or form of a disorder, with their ailments clearly and simply explained on the card.
Here to help are a number of items that are specially designed to assist certain beasties with their issues – these can be translated into real-world wellness exercises such as healthy eating and breathing techniques.
The deck also consists of certain actions, which makes the game a bit more competitive and challenging – and finally comforts that can be collected and put into the player’s comfort zone.
If you run out of comforts you are out of the game, unless you have the Merchant Card (we’ll explain later) then you can trade that for a Comfort Card and stay in the game.
The aim of the game is to help as many beasties as you can and collect them in your comfort zone ready to send them back home, through the portal into the Aether.
The game is designed for 2 – 4 players and can last up to an hour – the player who manages to help one each of the ten beasties first, wins.
First and foremost, every player is given three Comfort Cards to start off with. The deck is then split into two parts – the Beasties (grey) and Comfort (pink) cards, and Item (green) and Action (blue) cards.
Each deck is shuffled, with the Item and Action Cards being dealt four per player – the two decks are then placed side-by-side in the middle.
On their turn, every player must decide which deck they will pick from.
Either burn and turn from the Item and Action deck – baring in mind they must always have four in hand – or brave the Beasties and Comforts deck. (You may collect as many comforts as you like, the more the better)
When a player comes face to face with a Beastie, they must check their hand to see if they have the correct item by matching the symbols…
…or if they have a useful Action Card. Remember though, not all actions are good!
Last but not least, there is the Merchant. This old fella wanders around the game offering up opportunities to trade cards – either item-for-item, or item-for-comfort.
Note: The Merchant is an addition to the four cards in hand – if he is drawn from the deck the player must draw card immediately afterwards.
Mental health affects 1 in 4 people, and 1 in 10 children in the UK according to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) – that’s 1,100,000 kids in our care that are suffering from illnesses ranging from eating disorders to schizophrenia.
However the most prominent disorder amongst young people is depression, which affects more children today than at any time in the last few decades. Worryingly the MHF claims that 70% of these kids are not being given the help and support needed to combat such disorders at an early age, which may in turn help them later in life.
We want to help change these stats…
Our ambition for this game and other similar projects to come, is to normalise the subject of mental health amongst younger people, inside and outside of the classroom.
From talking to teachers – including SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinators) representatives from a number of school, and a number of the children in those school – it is apparent that many feel uncomfortable talking about their own and their peers mental health.
There also appears to be a lack of help for those children who do suffer – with minimal material especially for them to offer a gentle helping hand.
Book of Beasties makes it easier for kids to talk about this subject by relating how they feel and how they think others feel to the characters – then learn simple ways to help combat disorders as they arise.
It does not claim to be a cure, or a final solution but a coping mechanism that can be delivered and monitored as the children progress and continue to play.
Our hope is that by making mental health a normal part of day-to-day chat and removing it from that list of taboo subjects, it will appease the suffering that can go hand-in-hand with all disorders.
It may even lead to diagnosis and then the opportunity of treatment for some children.
With your help, this could become a reality even sooner than we imagined – and you could be a part of changing our kids’ futures.
DISCLAIMER: SCHOOL TRIALS ARE BEING CARRIED OUT UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A TRAINED TEACHER AND SENCO (SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS COORDINATOR) REPRESENTATIVE.
THE GAME IS NOT YET ACCREDITED BY ANY AUTHORITATIVE BODY, AND WE ARE WORKING HARD TO PUT TOGETHER A RELEVANT BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS, WHO WILL HELP US DELIVER THE GAME IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE.
MENTAL HEALTH IS A DELICATE SUBJECT TO BE TACKLING, BUT THERE IS NOTHING ELSE LIKE BOOK OF BEASTIES OUT THERE & PUT SIMPLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE.
IT IS NOT A CURE, IT IS NOT AN END GAME TO MENTAL HEALTH – IT TEACHES CHILDREN THAT MENTAL DISORDERS EXIST, OFFERING A HELPING HAND (THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE BEFORE) TO UNDERSTAND & HOPEFULLY COPE WITH SUCH ISSUES.
The biggest challenge we have faced so far is getting people to listen to us. But some have and those are the ones that have seen the potential of Book of Beasties and the opportunities it opens up to those teaching it as well as those playing it.
We want to put as much research into this as possible and are continuing to talk to schools and kids to make sure every aspect of the game is what they want and need. More cards will be added, others will be changed until we are sure that it is as near perfect as we can get it… And then we’ll improve it more.
The final obstacle will be getting the game out there, but we have a plan – we always have a plan – we accept all the support and help we can get, in any form it comes – and it is with that support and help that we will achieve our goal of having Book of Beasties in every school firstly in the UK, and then beyond.