In Arts & Entertainment

Conquer the mussels in this new game.

Local man masterminds Mussel Madness board game

When Michael Timm was the editor of the Bay View Compass newspaper, he edited a column that covered the mussel invasion of the Great Lakes.

"I became fascinated," says Timm. "The general public still doesn't get – emotionally — how big a deal this change is. Basically, the mussels flipped the food web upside-down in less than a decade. There are trillions of them. But because most of us don't see them, we don't care."

Timm started to think about how he could convey the seriousness of the situation in a fun way to adults and children alike. Eventually, he created a board game called Mussel Madness.

"The types of complex challenges the mussels pose require that we think and act cooperatively to preserve both environmental quality and economic opportunity. I want to inspire the next generation to solve problems that way. I believe one way to do that is through fun engagement," says Timm.

Timm started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a limited run of 100 games. If a person pledges $60, they will receive the game. The campaign runs through Oct. 15.

"The game has a very DIY feel, but the board is beautifully printed in color on vinyl at Clark Graphics and Milwaukee artist Andrea Guzzetta did the artwork," says Timm, who has a master's degree from the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

Mussel Madness is a cooperative game. "If anyone loses, no one can win. You quickly realize that really you're playing together against the Mussels. This creates a really interesting dynamic as players have to choose to balance self-interest and the common good," says Timm.

In 2015, Timm led a team to create "Three Degrees," a climate change game prototype that won second place nationally in the Climate Game Jam sponsored by the White House. He is currently designing a place-based app game experience called "Water Story MKE" that will debut next year.

"Mussel Madness" is Timm's first board game.

"You can't get this in stores. It's a unique item that would make a perfect gift for the otherwise impossible-to-buy-for. Great for families or educators of the middle grades," he says.


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