Rekenen is Dutch for "arithmetic." It is a racing-type game (like Candy Land), but it is numerically- rather than color-based. Players start on the 9 space and finish on the 8.
- the board (shown above)
- 16 operation cards
- 4 player pieces ("doughnuts")
- coins: quarter, dime, nickel, penny
For example: quarter, nickel, and penny ~> 25 + 5 + 1 ~> 31 ~> 3 + 1 ~> 4
This allows common objects to be used and creates an opportunity for more arithmetic during game play. It also reinforces the circular motif created by the doughnut-shaped player pieces and the circular steps.
In order to advance that number of steps, the player must move his doughnut to the next number, draw an operation card (which happens to be x^2 in the above picture), and correctly perform that operation on the number in 7 seconds. He can keep his spot if he succeeds, but he must move back to his old position if he fails.
Players take turns, and the first player to finish wins.
Design and Construction
While looking for a suitable name for my board game, I was inspired by the name "rekenen," which comes from the Dutch word for "arithmetic." I started looking at Dutch design (especially in experimental jetset's Dutch graphic design flickr set), which was quite compatible with my personal taste for minimalist, clean, simple design (as well as compatible with most of the mathematics textbooks I have had). Accordingly, I chose to work with a limited palette, flat colors, white, overlap, and sans serif characters. I chose to keep a circular motif, because the circle is a simple geometric shape, and also because both circles and math make me think of a kind of intellectual purity and balance. The pathway is an organic curve - although many think of rigid, straight lines when they think of math, being a science major, I have observed that graphed data often follows a mildly organic curve. Also, organic curves are balanced.
The game has a handmade aesthetic, which I have come to love after reading typography (which is now largely done on a computer) books with extensive sections on calligraphy and hand-lettering. The board is a textured rather than sterile white, all characters were hand-drawn and painted, and I left the paint on the doughnuts thin enough to keep the brush strokes visible. Operation cards were hand-written. Dutch (and Swiss) design has this reputation for being clean and sterile, but I've noticed that if you examine it closely, there are always personal touches and little quirks throughout the work. Mathematics theorems and their histories are like that, too.