Board in Isolation: A Game Connects Friends During Quarantine


Camden Burk

The board used in Camden’s Star Wars-themed game

James Connor, Contributor

As he sits inside a room filled with Star Wars Lego sets, Camden pans his camera over a game board sitting on the floor. It’s for Axis and Allies, a game in which players compete against each other to conquer the globe during World War II. While the Axis and Allies board covers a significant part of his rug, the board for the game Camden invented is twice the size.
Camden Burk, a junior at Northport High School, spends much of his spare time tinkering with gamesboth brand-name and his own. “I’ve kind of been making similar games since sixth or seventh grade because I’ve always been into board games and such,” Camden explains. His most recent creation is a Star Wars-themed game in which the objective is to eliminate other players and take over the galaxy. Normally, the game serves a fun pastime for Camden and his friends to play during their off-periods. Now, it’s become a way to combat isolation in the face of a global pandemic.
Camden says the game is a way for the players to remain connected with each other. “The game offers an opportunity to engage with people, whether you’re building an alliance with them or thinking about how they’re going to respond to different things. It kind of played a role in connecting [some players]; they’re a lot closer than they’ve been in the past.”
The shift to a long-distance version of the game hasn’t been easy. Camden notes the difficulty he experienced in taking a game designed to be played in person and re-designing it for remote play. “Before the coronavirus pandemic, I had this giant six by three foot map that I’d kind of lug around school all day in a red bag. I kind of had to simplify it for doing it digitally.” What was this digital solution? A group chat for the players to communicate and a Google Doc listing the rules.
In the end, Camden believes the values of the game (namely, keeping friends connected), outweigh the challenges. “Especially now, you have a big problem; people are kind of keeping to themselves, not only isolating physically but also socially, so I think this really helps with that.”
And as for the winner, the end of the game is similar to this quarantine: no one quite knows when it will end, but everyone will try to get through together.