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PLAYFUL | How a Teenager Created a Lake George-Themed, Family-Friendly Board Game

PLAYFUL | How a Teenager Created a Lake George-Themed, Family-Friendly Board Game

Pictured above: Bryna Haldeman, creator or The Silver Bay Game, in front of Silver Bay YMCA Retreat Center. All photographs + video courtesy of Frog Pond Entertainment / The Silver Bay Game

Before cell phones and internet gaming, board games were a popular way to bring families and friends together in all seasons. Now, with social distancing rules in place, staying home and playing board games are suddenly having a moment. 

While playing Monopoly or Scrabble can be a challenge, designing a complex board game is a completely different story. Just ask Bryna Haldeman, a 16-year-old high school sophomore and violinist who is interested in digital and instrumental music. Four years ago, she began designing a game inspired by her summers with her grandparents in the Adirondacks. The Silver Bay Game, Haldeman’s board game is available on sale via a Kickstarter campaign pledge (you can still help them reach their goal by August 21, 2020...after that date the game will move into pre-order) and is being released under her and her mother's, Tracey Haldeman, company Frog Pond Entertainment. The game celebrates the time she spent at the Silver Bay YMCA Retreat Center, a conference and family resort on the shores of Lake George. 

Press play to watch The Silver Bay Game preview video

“Lake George is a very beautiful place with mountains surrounding the cool, clear water,” said Haldeman in an interview with New York Makers from her family’s full-time home in Maryland. “It is a place in the world where I feel like I am a part nature.”

NEW YORK MAKERS: What was the inspiration behind the game?

BRYNA HALDEMAN: One summer, my grandfather and I thought it would be fun to make a game about Silver Bay. Visiting the Silver Bay YMCA Retreat Center on Lake George has been a tradition in my family since my grandmother was a little girl. Silver Bay is a very special place with lots of fun things to do. We wanted to capture that fun in a game that would help transport players back to the lake even in the winter when they might be far away.  

NYM: Can you talk about the process of designing the game?  

BH: It started out as a project that I worked on with my grandma and grandpa. My mom is helping now, too. It’s like starting and running a business, and that takes a lot of people. We started by making an outline of what would happen in the game, how the board would look, and how play would function. We wanted the game to be as unique as the place, and decided the board would not flow in only one direction, but that players could travel back and forth along spaces making up the letters “S” and “B” on the board. We created action cards to move players instead of using dice. We can tell even more of the story of this unique place through the action cards. We created a sketch of the board and the cards, and ran through lots of test playing. After each round of play we had so many ideas to make the game better every time. Even now, four years after making the first draft and playing the first round, we are still inspired with new and creative ways to make it better.

Haldeman's grandmother, Gail Haldeman, painted the four Lake George islands, Odell, Hewitt, Hatchet, and Agnes, for The Silver Bay Game

NYM: What is the object of the game, and can you go over some of the rules? 

BH: The object of the game is to visit as many destinations on the Silver Bay board as possible, and collect the card for that destination. The game is over when all destination cards are claimed. The winner is the player who has collected the most cards. The game is for two to eight players. In advanced play, there are “Helper Cards” that let players “help out” and earn pine cones in order to purchase the destination cards. Only in advanced play do the destination cards need to be purchased with the pine cones. There are islands the players can visit to collect pine cones. There is a boat that can move players from island to island across the board. 

NYM: How does the game compare to Monopoly?

BH: The Silver Bay Game is similar to Monopoly in that players are collecting resources in order to acquire a card when landing on that card’s space. The game is different from Monopoly because the resource is based on pine cones not dollars, and players earn the pine cones through being helpful. There is also some cooperative play in the game related to the moving of the boat between islands. Of course, players may also try and make it harder for other players by moving the boat away from them, but, we hope they choose to be helpful!

NYM: Did you encounter any challenges while designing the game?

BH: One challenge has been finishing the game without my grandpa. My grandpa passed away the year (2016) we started designing the game. It was hard to work on it without him because it made me sad.  Now, I’m happy to think about him and all the great memories we made together at the lake.

Get the The Silver Bay Game on sale by clicking this link and making a pledge. After August 21, 2020, the game will move into pre-order. The game goes into production September 2020.