Board games are making a comeback to entertain bored families housebound due to COVID-19, but the Parks family of Crofton is already well ahead of the game.
Darryl and son Zebb Parks designed and started playing a board game they call V.I. Combat three years ago. The awareness of their game has realized a resurgence as people combat their longer hours of downtime created by the virus.
“Mostly coincidental, for sure,” said Darryl of the opportunity to market their game to a suddenly wider and more captive audience.
Daughter Zoey, 12, famous along with Zebb for a recent video on COVID-19, also became involved and the family’s teamwork is making the game take off faster than a fighter jet.
The game, Darryl said, is much like Risk but designed from the map of Vancouver Island. Timing was everything for taking it public at the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn.
“At the end of February in the Chemainus hotel, we had kind of a game launch,” he indicated.
Around 30 people showed up to give the game a try. A big tournament was played on the Pro Map and Trevor Brown became the first V.I. Combat champion.
“After playing with friends for the last year, we have decided to launch the game to save up for a 3D printer to help produce pieces,” Darryl noted.
A Facebook page and YouTube channel were both started in the past month and a half, attracting plenty of attention.
The Parks family is not only creative with the game, but also in the marketing department. Zebb and Zoey have starred in YouTube commercials touting the game and show a definite flair for the dramatic.
Before formulating the game plan, Darryl and Zebb were playing a lot of Risk and also a game called Axis and Allies. As Zebb was learning how to play three years ago, he thought it would be neat to incorporate Vancouver Island, and since he goes to Gulf Islands Secondary School and lives in Crofton, those areas specifically.
They started to design a board of Vancouver Island, spending many weekends adjusting the map on Photoshop and turning it into a board game map.
“We never intended to make a game to possibly market, we were just having fun designing and trying to make it into a working game,” recalled Darryl. “The board kept getting better and better, and we kept slowly adding things to it.”
As a group of players joined them once a month, seven main regions of Vancouver Island were designed into the game: Greater Victoria, Cowichan, Nanaimo region, Pacific Rim, Comox Valley, North Island and the Gulf Islands.
Everything changed when Zoey wanted to play.
“The game was a bit tricky to learn, and we noticed it was a bit complicated to learn for someone new,” noted Darryl.
Zoey suggested a shorter and faster version of the game was needed for those who didn’t want to monopolize their time in Monopoly fashion for four hours or more. Thus, the V.I. Combat 1/2 map was created with basically half of Vancouver Island and a half map of the original but still an advanced game to play.
“At this point, we had given three to four games away for Christmas presents and the kids wanted to try and sell it,” Darryl indicated. “Our main issue was how complicated it was to learn how to play. We had talked about making YouTube videos, but were still stuck on how to do the rules. We finally came up with a solution. The solution was to make a third game which taught players how to play. Our solution was V.I. Combat Jr. It was easy to play, and it was great for younger and new players to teach them how to play our more complicated game.”
Three games eventually led to a fourth, V.I. Combat Pro, with a better map, more islands and more additions to the original board for hardcore players. So there’s now V.I. Combat Jr., 1/2 Map, Full Map and Pro Map.
“I really like the junior,” said Zoey. “It’s really quick and easy. I can also learn about Vancouver Island a lot.
“We play quite a bit because it’s a big family game we play together, especially since we’re all in the house together.”
“I always thought it would be so cool if we could play on Vancouver Island — that’s where we live, obviously,” said Zebb, 15. “It’s so cool we got all the geographical stuff in. It was awesome. It’s so fun to play.”
They were buying pieces online but it was getting expensive. Since the launch, they’ve been selling the V.I. Combat Jr. game in the community to raise money for a 3D printer to make their own custom pieces soon.
With everyone currently staying at home, they’re charging $45 for V.I. Combat Jr. and will deliver it by contacting them at email@example.com.