Bird lover’s board game soars in popularity

The game Wingspan became an instant hit. ©Stonemaier Games

What do spreadsheets, birds, and board games have in common? They came together in Wingspan, a board game based on serious science that has become a phenomenon among board gamers. Elizabeth Hargrave, a Maryland health policy consultant and bird lover, used data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird citizen-science project, as well as its All About Birds and Audubon’s online guide. She built a spreadsheet sorting taxonomy, habitat, wingspan, endangered status and other categories and used formulas to come up with scores for each bird. Sound like something only an ornithologist would love? Not so. “During the pre-order period in January,” the New York Times wrote, “more than 5,000 games sold in a week; the game is now on its third print run, with a total of 30,000 games in English, and 14,000 in various foreign-language editions.”

Read more in the New York Times, or find the game here.