Game theory: Timeline
Games have never been more popular and in their column Dr Louise Robinson and Dr Ian Turner take us through Timeline to find out if it is any good...
What is Timeline?
Let’s start with a question… look at this list: The discovery of the molecule, the invention of antibiotics, the discovery of photosynthesis and the discovery of the 1st Tyrannosaurus skeleton. Can you put them in order?... (answer at the bottom of the page, no cheating).
Timeline contains 110 two-sided cards featuring scientific discoveries and inventions. One side contains the discovery and illustration, the other contains the crucial date information. Players each have four cards at the start of the game with the dates hidden and take it in turns to place a card in the expanding timeline, but they must get the placement exactly right. Incorrectly placed discoveries mean players draw another card and the first player to place all their cards correctly, wins.
Is it Fun?
Timeline is one of those beautiful games that can be picked up, played and put away in under 10 minutes – perfect for a coffee break. It is also frightfully easy to pick up and begin playing. Despite this Timeline is still fun, as players try and stretch their brain cells and work out if the discovery of X-rays came before or after the invention of aspirin. The game gets progressively harder as more and more cards form the timeline, especially with eight players. You find yourself wishing you had paid more attention in class as you try and recall “when Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria.” It is quite amusing when someone is a few hundred years or so out with their placement.
Is it Educational?
The games main education value is bringing 110 important discoveries in science and the years of their discovery to the attention of players. The reverse of the cards also contains details on the individuals responsible for the discoveries, though it is tiny font! Remembering the dates of things is useful for context (and quizzes!) but not particularly useful for a science lesson. The purest may also have some arguments about the dates and individuals named for example “the invention of the laser” is accredited to C. H Townes in 1954, but this does not mention his co-worker A. L Schawlow, or that the first laser was not actually built until 1960 by T.H. Maiman.
A fun and quick game with a science theme that may result in a greater appreciation of the history of science and through extensive play, memorisation of key dates in scientific history. BTW the answer is; the discovery of the molecule (1811), the discovery of photosynthesis (1845), the invention of antibiotics (1887) and the discovery of the first tyrannosaurus skeleton (1905).
Dr Louise Robinson is Lecturer in Forensic Biology and Dr Ian Turner an Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching, both at the University of Derby.