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Educational Game Review: ‘Complexity’ from TechnoNature

Complexity from TechnoNature is a compelling game where knowledge means survival. Some educational games suffer from minimal mechanics, but Complexity has solid gameplay stemming from chance cards, as well as competitive strategy to claim body systems that will intrigue even experienced gamers. Players learn not only the game’s effective tactics but also the complex systems that make the human body run.

The scenario behind Complexity sets players as survivors of a shipwreck on a deserted island. Rescue will come in a week or perhaps more, if they can make it. Other such survival games might focus on outward issues like shelter, but Complexity gets to the core of human survival: food. Players must make it through their days conserving energy and avoiding injury to be in the best health.

The primary resource in Complexity, as it is in biology, is the calorie. Bills and coins represent calories, from the 2,000-calorie daily ration to the 500-calorie coin featuring a bunch of bananas or a pineapple. Players begin with 4,000 calories worth of food and a Health Chip, which represents how healthy their body is. The goal to win is to collect the most health chips by the end of the game. If a player ever loses his or her last health chip, that means they are out.

Complexity plays out in a series of rounds representing the days on the island. Some days, players will work to build up their supplies, claiming banners representing the different systems of the human body or stashing away calories. Other days hold Consequences, in which players draw from the corresponding deck to face troubles such as suffering a cavity and needing to seek out alleviating plants, or battling a virus bought on by mosquitos.

On still other days, players will face Questions, drawing from that deck and answering trivia to win further calories or end up losing them. Questions relate to different parts of the body, from the function of the brainstem to the filtration methods of the kidneys. Bad consequences or wrong answers will cost calories, paying out to the correlating body systems. Savvy players will grab banners for these systems to claim those lost calories.

Aside from its straightforward play for maximizing resources, Complexity’s strongest suit is its educational material. The questions cover a remarkable depth of human anatomy while remaining approachable. Despite the dense topics, players will quickly pick up the terms and meanings. Play in Complexity is also highly adaptable, making it perfect for classrooms on different schedules. The game could last one set of seven rounds or more if time allows. The Questions deck could even be used on its own as a points-scoring trivia game.

Complexity is a board game for two to six players aged 12 and up. It is a medium-length game, with each “week” lasting about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how quickly players make their decisions each turn. With its sometimes complex mechanics, younger players may need help along the learning curve. However, doing so will not only put them on a level playing field, it will also give them an impressive advantage in describing the human body for future human science courses.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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