“Wingspan” features 170 unique species cards filled with real-world information, life-like illustrations
By Meilan Solly
MARCH 12, 2019
“Wingspan,” an eclectic new board game that transforms players into avian enthusiasts working to attract visitors to competing wildlife preserves, boasts a level of scientific rigor typically unseen in the gaming world.
As Siobhan Roberts reports for The New York Times, creator Elizabeth Hargrave—a self-proclaimed “spreadsheet geek” and avid birder—crafted “Wingspan” with mathematical precision: Drawing on data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird citizen-science project and All About Birds portal, as well as Audubon’s online guide to North American birds, Hargrave made a massive spreadsheet detailing information such as habitat, wingspan, red-list status and diet. At one point, the document reached a staggering size of 596 rows by nearly 100 columns.
To turn this treasure trove of factoids into a playable gaming experience, Hargrave collaborated with Stonemaier Games. Jamey Stegmaier, co-founder and president of the game publishing company, tells Audubon magazine’s Shaymus McLaughlin that he was instantly intrigued by Hargrave’s description of “Wingspan,” explaining, “There’s something about birds that instantly captures a human desire to collect, sort, and admire.”