By Michalla Bolton
BetterMe, created by Dan O’Donnell, is revolutionizing the world of board games through a new concept — self-change through playing. BetterMe has the ability to change and shape lives by inspiring and encouraging players with each move they make. Through research, interview, and play I was able to dive into an uncharted gaming world. During this process I not only gained unique and memorable experiences but I was also able to begin a positive journey into personal development.
I recently played the free, print-up version for the first time with my boyfriend. Something I enjoyed about the print-up version was that it does not include game pieces. Surprised? The instructions encourage you to use personalized game markers. This could be a ring, a coin, a stone, or anything else that’s small. For our first game we selected two small “peace” and “courage” stones. I liked that this version of the game allowed us to bring in fun, silly, or meaningful personalized representations of ourselves.
In the first game I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be fun, that it was supposed to be engaging, and inspirational perhaps. We played for about an hour and, in that time, I learned what greatness really means to me. I learned in what ways my boyfriend finds himself fortunate. I was inspired to do good deeds, to make others smile or laugh, and to research people, places, and things that were worth knowing.
A week later I decided to do a follow up game with a group. That night the wealth of positivity that BetterMe has to offer unfolded even more. Our group had intellectual conversations that surpassed the generic go-to topics one tends to see in these situations. I watched as this small group of individuals made commitments to partaking in acts of kindness, self-improvement, and in helping others to reach their own goals through accountability.
All in all, when you put away your Candy Land, Apples to Apples, Battleship, Life, or Quelf you feel good right? You laughed, maybe you swore, you played, you had a great time with friends, and that’s what games are all about. Yet then you got ready for bed, you made dinner, you started to think about what you had to do tomorrow, about work, school, your kids, and that pile of laundry you still need to do. The difference? BetterMe keeps you in the game for days, weeks, even years after you play. What? I know! But it’s true. You are given suggested tasks that promote a better state of mind, body and soul living. And this isn’t some new age hippy game. It’s a game for everyone. You laugh, you learn, you connect, as well as make positive changes for yourself. So whose idea was this and what’s it really all about? I would like to take credit for the next part of this story, but the creator of BetterMe already conveys his passions so flawlessly that I will relinquish some of my words over to him.
Dan O’ Donnell: “After being an idea sitting in a google doc for years, Better Me™ suddenly sprang to life one night in the basement of a flea market (my home at the time) in Bellingham, Washington. I realized it was the best idea on my list, one that would help people around the world. So I ran upstairs to my office and grabbed a giant pad of graph paper and a handful of highlighters and colored markers. By the end of that night I had the game path, the card categories, and a basic idea of how the game would work.
Shortly after that, the first test game was played, with just myself and one close friend. In this very crude first game it was obvious to both players that this was really something special.
As a result of that first game, I wrote an email to my dad, thanking him for being such an amazing dad. I told him that after becoming an adult, I had realized that not everyone was as lucky as I was, going on fishing trips, to baseball games, having him teach me to tie knots, use tools, etc. I listed all sorts of fond memories that I had of my dad while growing up, right down to all the flat bicycle tires he fixed for me after I rode through the blackberry bushes again, and how he had reassured me that there really were no crocodiles under my bed, or gorillas in my closet at night. He told me he loved the email and felt like he should print it out and frame it. Although I knew how great my dad was, I’m not sure if I ever would have told him like that, if it weren’t for this game giving me a push. That one letter alone was worth the effort of creating this game.
My good friend, who played that first test game with me, made a commitment I’ll never forget. She decided to sponsor an orphaned elephant at a wildlife trust in Kenya, and to do it in her kids’ name for Christmas, which was only six weeks away. Here is an excerpt from her email to me soon after the game: “I’m excited! I wanted this to be a Christmas present for the kids last year but didn’t get around to it. Now that I’m accountable and it’s fresh in my mind again, I’ll make it happen!” And my actual response: “Awesome, such a cool idea! I bet your kids will LOVE that. I fu$%ing love this game and the action it’s making us take! Bam, Pow, Smack (Batman style)” She wound up sponsoring an orphaned one year old female elephant named Kihari. She shared the links with me, including photos and updates on Kihari’s daily life at the wildlife center, right down to details on her favorite playmates and what they enjoyed doing together. I’ll never forget that first game.
Since then, there have been many more games played, leading to countless wonderful actions taken and friendships strengthened by playing the game. I have really come to believe 100% that this game will make a real positive impact on people around the world. Better Me™ is the only game of its kind, and it’s available 100% free as well as for sale. It’s designed to improve relationships, and uses the power of accountability partnerships to help players grow and achieve goals in all areas of their life. It is based on principles from every age, from humankind’s early philosophies to modern concepts from positive psychology, etc.”
After speaking with Dan O’Donnell and playing BetterMe I have now made it my personal mission to help share this board game with the world. I have nothing against other games. I have a closet packed full of classics, but this game is worth the extra hype. I have never played a board game that held such lasting, positive effects in the way this one did. Nor had I ever played a game that spurred such interesting conversations with friends and family; as well as been so inspired to go out and make positive changes and movements. Dan and I agree that with the rise in the technological age this game not only offers players the chance to unplug and reconnect but to get back in touch with something we may not even realize was missing. So print your free version or head over to Amazon.com or BetterMeGame.com to purchase your game today. Prepare for positive impact.[metaslider id=5923]
What is BetterMe all about?
Players move around the game board and draw cards which prompt all sorts of positive action and discussion. Players race to fulfill each of their five life areas, heart, mind, body, people and tangibles.
Who can you play with?
Family – Friends – Coworkers – Classmates – Teammates – Neighbors – Church Members – Students – Festival Goers – Gaming Club – Mastermind Group – Networking Group – Fellow Travelers
Where can you play?
The Park – School – Coffee Shop – Family Reunion – The Convention – Holiday Dinner – Airport – At the Campground – At the Hospital – On a Plane – On a Bus – Waiting Room – Pub – Laundromat – Playground
“It will keep you accountable for your tasks, goals and positive habits. No more procrastination! Will recommend this game to everyone who is interested in developing themselves.!” -Daniel Stegehuis, Nieuwegein, Holland
“When I first played Better Me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But within minutes I was having fun while learning a ton about both myself, my friends that I came with as well as others that I had just met. I would highly recommend playing Better Me if you are open-minded and want to surround yourself with positive, open-minded people as well as become a better version of you, while having fun!”
-Johnny FD, San Francisco, CA, USA TravelLikeABossPodcast.com
“Better Me is the most memorable board game I have ever played and also the most enjoyable. There’s no other game where you get to meet complete strangers in such an intimate way, get to know people you already know in a way you never have before, have freedom and a supportive atmosphere to talk about yourself and at the same time have lots of fun and laughs. It’s really that good and you should play it as soon as you can.” -Russell Smith, England
Note: Dan O’ Donnell also founded PositiveAtmosphere.com and the Positive Thinking facebook page. Both are worth checking out.