The Fun Tale: Utah Professor Creates Canterbury Tales Board Game

A professor at the University of Utah has come up with a creative new way to engage students in Geoffrey Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales': a board game! Read on if you've ever wished you could join Chaucer's pilgrims on their famous journey.

By Sarah Wright


From Book to Board

The prevalence of movies based on books makes it clear that a lot of people see books not as finite works, but as sources of inspiration. Some people seem to find it annoying when books are interpreted into new forms, but others see it as a testament to the inspirational value of reading. Though film is the most common adaptation, books have inspired everything from music to fashion. But can you imagine a board game based on classic literature?

One man has done just that - made a board game out of a book. A lecturer and assistant professor of English at the University of Utah, Alf Seegert has designed several board games. He was initially inspired by the popular game 'Settlers of Catan', and has made several games in the genre of German-tyle or Eurogames, two of which have been published. Seegert's love of game designing collided with his profession when, inspired by material from one of his courses, he decided to make a game based on The Canterbury Tales, a classic work of British literature by Geoffrey Chaucer.

'The Road to Canterbury'

The Chronicle of Higher Education describes the game as inspired by the classic book, but Seegert's new game isn't intended to mimic the story. Instead, the game, called 'The Road to Canterbury', features characters from The Canterbury Tales, including the Pardoner. The Pardoner is a fantastic example of the tongue-in-cheek irony that characterizes Chaucer's most famous work; a supposedly religious man, the Pardoner's main concern is bilking money out of his traveling companions under the guise of offering holy pardons (for a steep price, of course).

One interesting aspect of the game that could also make it appropriate for inclusion in the classroom is the fact that no one gets eliminated during the game, so everyone plays to the end. The goal is to earn money, and whoever makes the most in the course of the game wins. 'The Road to Canterbury' takes about an hour to play, according to The Chronicle, and is designed for ages ten and up - perfect for the high school classrooms that are likely to feature Chaucer's work as a reading assignment.

Though the game doesn't have a publisher, it's a popular enough idea that Seegert has earned more than $15,000 on the Web investment site Kickstarter. If you're interested in eventually purchasing 'The Road to Canterbury', consider an early investment through Kickstarter - giving $45 or more will earn you a copy of the game.

If you're looking for some great books that might inspire you, check out these five books you should read before college.

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