If you have happened to notice an increased number of rarely-seen birds around Singapore, that's because it is migration season.
And rather fitting for this period, a board game about the perilous journey birds take while crossing continents will be released soon.
Created by a five-man team from local design and editorial consultancy firm Tuber comprising four Singaporeans and one Vietnamese, Fly-A-Way allows players a glimpse into the trials and tribulations birds go through during migration and the ways average people can do their part for conservation.
The game is produced in collaboration with non-profit BirdLife International Asia.
How to play
In the board game, players act as conservationists with the aim of helping birds successfully complete their individual migratory routes along the East Asian-Australasian flyway, which extends southwards from Russia and Alaska to Australia and New Zealand.
The flyway is one of the busiest and most important, passing through 22 countries and is utilised by around 55 migratory species and five million birds.
Players have to place links to connect routes to the birds' destinations.
In the meantime, birds will have to contend with realistic threats, ranging from poachers, forest fires and window collisions (the latter of which commonly occurs to migratory birds in Singapore).
Severe "Bird-tastrophes" can also happen — wide-scale disasters like deforestation, which will handicap all players.
However, players can save the bird and help them fight back with special cards.
Learn more about different bird species
Fly-A-Way features 42 migratory bird species, with beautiful illustrations of each printed on the cards.
Some of the species in the game can actually be sighted in Singapore, such as the Black baza, Black-capped kingfisher, Chinese egret, Chestnut-winged cuckoo and Oriental honey-buzzard.
Not only can players admire the vibrant illustrations, they can also learn more individual species, such as their conservation status, unique attributes and habitats, which include wetland, open country and forest.
Raising awareness on wildlife conservation
The game was first conceptualised in Mar. 2019.
Speaking to Mothership, Simon Vincent, who is part of the team behind Fly-A-Way, said that they first fell in love with the idea of migratory birds after working on a brochure on migratory bird conservation for BirdLife International Asia.
They wanted to share more about the birds' "life and trials — but in a new, fun and engaging way".
The team decided that a board game was the perfect medium to attract and educate people, as it allowed them to map out the "drama" of bird migration "in a palpable way".
One of the takeaways from the game the team hopes for is for people to appreciate the importance of wildlife conservation.
"Creating a board game with BirdLife International Asia as our knowledge partner was also an exciting challenge for us. The gameplay had to be thrilling, while also keeping true to the real-world dangers that conservationists are tackling."
Unfortunately, the game is not commercially available — yet.
Fly-A-Way is currently on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and has raised over S$41,000, four times more than its original S$10,000 goal.
The additional money pledged has since been channeled to improving the quality of the board game set, such as upgrading it with linen finishings, changing the pawns to bird-shaped ones and the links to feather-shaped ones, and developing AR-enhanced bird cards.
Vincent shared that they will likely fulfil the orders for the Kickstarter backers by mid-2021.
Only then will the team be able to assess the demand and discuss how non-Kickstarter backers can get their hands on the game.
Part of the proceeds from Kickstarter will go to Birdlife International Asia’s conservation efforts.
The Kickstarter project ends on Dec. 14. If you would like to support Fly-A-Way, you can pledge your funds here.
Top photo from Fly-A-Way Kickstarter