A recent study has shown that playing boardgames can improve a child’s mathematical abilities. Whether that’s true or not is another thing, but it shows that even though we live in an increasingly digital age, people still like playing board games!
Which is lucky for us, as we’ve recently launched a few of our own, and not just any versions. These are officially licensed versions of the classic boardgames Monopoly, Cluedo and playground favourite Top Trumps!
Working on these games over the last six months proved informative, as well as challenging. Deciding on what goes on the boards (We’re quite pleased with the decision to make the Monopoly about the modern museum, while Cluedo covers the historical ship, with Top Trumps a mixture of the two), how the scoring works on Top Trumps (Had the argument about the dog’s uniqueness yet? Put it this way, how many dogs have you seen in your lifetime compared to Tudor-style carpenters rules?) and whether “You are overheard telling people the Mary Rose sank on her Maiden Voyage, go directly to Jail” is too in-jokey (we decided not, as it would be informative as well as amusing to the who knew about the myth).
One of the biggest challenges, though, was Cluedo. At first, it might seem an obvious one: who sank the Mary Rose! We have an event, we have facial reconstructions of the crew, it’s pretty much already done!
However, there are issues that would come up if you went with this option. The sinking of the Mary Rose was a major maritime tragedy, a lot of lives were lost, and we’ve made every effort to show as much respect as possible for those who lost their lives. To turn this into a board game, blaming real people for causing it, would not be acceptable.
To avoid this problem, we had to create a new event, an attempted sabotage prior to the actual sinking. We also had to create new suspects. Coming up with back stories, with stories loosely based on some actual historical characters (there were, for example, some French gun captains in Henry’s fleet, and it seems the galley was the home of many an injured sailor) was the easy part, we needed to give them faces. After considering getting an artist to make them up, or using stock actors, we decided that if we weren’t going to use the ship’s crew, we use the museum team! This also allowed us to include a female character, which was one of the requirements for Cluedo, as the game must always start with Miss Scarlet, who we turned into a ships ‘boy’ called Robert, or ‘Bob’ (no prizes for guessing the inspiration for that!).
Six members of our team of staff and volunteers were chosen, three of whom actually appear in the interpretation films in the museum demonstrating some of the artefacts, and posed for a photograph, which was then sent off to the artist to make into digital paintings. It’s nice to think that they are now immortalised forever in a classic boardgame, up there with the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Spongebob Squarepants.
UPDATE: A Mary Rose Cluedo Day is taking place on 6th April 2016 at the Mary Rose Museum, admission is FREE, and you can meet the staff and volunteers who played the suspects!
This article was written by Simon Clabby for the Mary Rose website. All opinions are his own, and may not represent those of the Mary Rose Trust.